- Associated Press - Monday, February 2, 2015

Jonathan Tsipis knew one of his main goals in taking over George Washington was returning the Colonials to a women’s basketball power.

He has the team headed in the right direction, as George Washington earned its first Top 25 ranking in nearly seven years when the school entered The Associated Press poll at No. 24 on Monday.

“I think when you’re getting ranked in February, it’s a big body of work that people are looking at, as opposed to earlier in the year, when it’s a projection of how you should do,” he said. “We’re really excited.”

Tsipis has the Colonials (19-2, 8-0 A10), who last were ranked in the final poll of the 2008 season, riding a 17-game winning streak. They are five victories short of the mark set by the 1996-97 squad that won 22 consecutive games.

That streak is only part of the rich history of women’s basketball at the school, which appeared almost weekly in the poll for nearly two decades starting in 1991 under former coach Joe McKeown.

“This puts together what we’ve talked about with the tradition we’ve had here, the number of A-10 championships and NCAA tournament appearances and wins in the NCAA tournament,” Tsipis said. “It goes hand in hand with being ranked.”

The Colonials, who last were ranked in the final poll of the 2008 season, hit a skid from 2009-13 when they had four straight years under .500 — the school’s first since 1988-89. But Tsipis has started to return the team to its previous glory. The only losses this season came to Florida Gulf Coast, when leading scorer and rebounder Jonquel Jones was out, and to No. 5 Maryland.

“We were winning at halftime and they surged in the second half,” Tsipis said of the loss to the Terrapins. “There was such a difference in the two games. The game here and the game on the road last year, that’s part of the belief.”

George Washington lost at Maryland by 36 points last season. That defeat came one game after the Colonials pulled off one of the biggest victories under Tsipis when they beat then-No. 10 California.

“You have to believe you’ll win every game, and we felt like we showed we could on any given night play with someone who was highly ranked,” he said. “Not just get to NIT, but get to multiple rounds in. Those are building blocks that we have.”

Maryland (19-2, 10-0 Big Ten) remained No. 5 in the AP poll and moved up one spot from No. 6 in the USA Today coaches’ poll. South Carolina, UConn, Baylor and Notre Dame remained ranked ahead of the Terrapins.

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