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Schaefer named WBCA coach of the year; three Bulldogs named region finalists

The Bulldogs' sixth-year head coach was named WBCA/United States Marine Corps Division I National Coach of the Year.

Posted: Mar. 22, 2018 4:41 PM
Updated: Mar. 22, 2018 10:50 PM

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) - Coaches around the country took notice of the coaching job Vic Schaefer has done this season at Mississippi State.

After guiding the Bulldogs to a historic 2017-18 season, the Bulldogs’ sixth-year head coach was named WBCA/United States Marine Corps Division I National Coach of the Year.

Three of his players – Teaira McCowan, Victoria Vivians and Morgan William – were named region finalists as well on Thursday.

Schaefer and the three standouts guided this season’s Bulldog squad to the program’s first Southeastern Conference regular-season championship, the first for any women’s program at MSU.

Mississippi State also advanced to the Sweet 16 for the third-straight year after claiming the school’s first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

With Monday’s second-round win against Oklahoma State, this year’s squad matched last season’s National Finalist team for the most wins in school history with 34.

The Bulldogs began the year winning 32-straight games, the second-longest win streak in SEC history. State also completed the regular season 30-0, the first SEC team to do so in 20 years.

While his 2017-18 squad has once again been stellar defensively, ranking 16th nationally in scoring defense at 55.6 ppg, it has also had one of the best offensive seasons but a Bulldog team, rating second in school annals with 2,873 points and 10th in the country averaging 82.1 ppg.

MSU has also posted the second-best field goal percentage in school history (47 percent), and it has knocked down 259 3-pointers, the most by an MSU team and the third-highest tally in SEC history. This year’s unit is also on track to once again set the season free-throw percentage record, hitting 74.2 percent from the stripe.

Vivians, McCowan and William have been key components in this year’s success. Vivians’ senior campaign has been the best of her career, as she is averaging an SEC third-best 19.6 ppg and pulling down a career-best 6.2 rebounds per game.

The Carthage, Miss., native has been efficient with her shooting, hitting 48.2 percent from the floor, 40.6 percent from the 3-point arc and 82.5 percent at the line. She is shooting 11.1 percentage points higher from the field and 12.5 percentage points better from 3-point range than last season.

Vivians, who passed Tan White for second at State in career scoring (2,443 points) has scored double figures in 34 of MSU’s 35 games this season, including 17 20-point outings. She has averaged 22.3 ppg against ranked foes this season while tallying 21.5 points and 9.5 rebounds through the opening two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Like Vivians, McCowan has also enjoyed a breakout season, boosting her season scoring average 9.1 points to 17.8 ppg and her rebounds 6.2 points to a Division I third-best 13.3 rpg. The Brenham, Texas, native has knocked down shots at a school-record 60.6-percent clip, the 15th-best percentage in the nation.

McCowan also claimed State’s season double-doubles record, hauling in 25. She has grabbed 10-plus rebounds in 31 of her team’s 35 games, including notching 20 boards on four occasions.

She has smashed State’s single-season rebounding record, hauling in the fifth-most boards by an SEC player with 466. Her performance on the glass moved her into third at State in career rebounds with 937, making her just the second Bulldog to record 1,000 points, 900 rebounds and 170 blocks for her career.

William has been a catalyst for the offense with her stellar distributing skills and ability to take care of the basketball. The Birmingham, Ala., native ranks fourth in the SEC dishing 4.5 apg.

She has also posted nine turnover-free games and committed two or fewer turnovers all but twice on the year en route to posting a 4.1 assist/turnover ratio that is second in the nation this season.

William has also started to step up her scoring, averaging 11.0 ppg on 47.6-percent shooting in the month of March. The Bulldogs’ career free-throw percentage leader, William is once again on pace to claim the top single-season mark as she has knocked down an SEC second-best 85 percent of her opportunities at the charity stripe.

After notching the first perfect home slate in Humphrey Coliseum history (18-0) and shattering the program attendance record (133,906), the Bulldogs face 4th-seeded N.C. State in Friday’s Round of 16 contest in Kansas City, Mo.

Tip from the Sprint Center is set for 6 p.m. CT on ESPN. The winner of that game faces either UCLA or Texas for the right to go to the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio.

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