- Associated Press - Monday, February 22, 2016

Tennessee’s 31-year run in the The Associated Press women’s basketball poll is over.

The Lady Vols’ streak of 565 consecutive weeks in the rankings ended on Monday when the 32-member national media panel did not include them among the country’s best teams. The streak started on Feb. 17, 1985.

“It’s really an amazing streak and a tribute to all of the players and coaches who’ve contributed to the Lady Vols’ rich tradition of excellence,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “The results this season haven’t been what we wanted, but I assure you my staff and I are working extremely hard to ensure that our players reach their potential and, in turn, help our program attain the level of success we expect at Tennessee.”

Tennessee (16-11, 7-7 SEC), which received two votes this week. had been teetering on the edge for the past month and finally dropped out after losing two of its last three games. With the Lady Vols out, UConn now has the longest active streak. The Huskies, who remain a unanimous No. 1 in the poll this week, have been ranked for 428 consecutive weeks.

It would take them roughly seven more years for them to match Tennessee’s record.

“It’s very impressive,” said Tamika Catchings, who starred for the Lady Vols from 1997 through 2001. “That’s huge. Like anything else, streaks come to an end at some point and time. Thirty-one years, that’s amazing. To be a part of it was really awesome. Highs and lows. Unfortunately, they are going through a little low right now, but it will get better.”

During that 31-year run, the Lady Vols had been the top team 103 times. They were in the first five for 407 weeks and top 10 on 506 occasions. Since the poll began in 1976, Tennessee had only missed out on being ranked a total of 15 weeks before Monday. The Lady Vols were not in the first poll, then missed four weeks during the 1981-82 season. They also had a 10-week gap in 1984-85.

Tennessee was arguably the most dominant team during the 1990s. It won its first national championship in 1987 and was victorious again in 1989 and 1991, then won the title in 1996, 1997 and 1998, making it the first program to win three consecutive championships. The Lady Vols won their most recent championships in 2007 and 2008; they have also lost in the national championship game five times and made five other appearances in the Final Four.

While the Lady Vols fell out, UConn continued its run at No. 1. The Huskies cruised through two more easy victories. They host SMU on Wednesday and then Tulane on Saturday. This was the 200th week overall that UConn has been No. 1 in the poll.

“I think it’s a reflection of the players we’ve had and the consistency,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “That’s what I’m most happy with. It’s been going for a long time and you look around the country and realize how difficult it is to sustain this. It’s not as easy as people think sometimes.”

The Huskies were followed by Notre Dame, South Carolina, Baylor and Ohio State. Maryland (25-3, 14-2 Big Ten) was No. 6 for the second consecutive week.

No. 25 Colorado State entered the rankings for the first time since 2002 after winning 21 consecutive games. No. 24 Missouri also returned to the poll while Florida fell out.

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