STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – After guiding his Mississippi State women’s basketball team to its first Southeastern Conference championship and the first undefeated regular season by an SEC team in 20 years, Vic Schaefer has been named one of four finalists for 2018 Werner Ladder Naismith Coach of the Year by the Atlanta Tipoff Club.
A fan vote accounts for five percent of the final total, and Bulldog fans can vote for MSU’s sixth-year head coach once daily from March 19-30 at www.naismithtrophy.com/vote.
The SEC Coach of the Year guided the Bulldogs to the first SEC regular-season championship by an MSU women’s program behind a 32-1 record.
The 32 victories rank second in school history behind last season’s 34-win campaign, and they are tied for the most in the nation this season. The Dawgs recorded the second-longest win streak in SEC history with their 32-straight victories.
MSU finished the regular season a perfect 30-0, becoming the first SEC team to do so since Tennessee in 1997-98.
This season’s Bulldogs claimed eight wins against ranked foes, and they racked up an impressive 11 victories against teams in the RPI Top 50, fourth-most in the country.
The strong campaign earned Mississippi State another program milestone with its first No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Schaefer’s team is one of two schools in the nation to rank in the Top 10 in Division I in scoring offense and Top 20 in scoring defense. MSU enters the NCAA Tournament ninth nationally in scoring at 82.0 ppg and 17th on defense allowing 55.7ppg.
This year’s Bulldogs also rank fifth in the country in assist/turnover ratio (1.5), third in turnovers per game (10.6 tpg), third in turnover margin (+8.8), 12th in field goal percentage (47.1 percent), fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.2 percent) and third in scoring margin (+26.3 ppg).
Under Schaefer’s tutelage, Victoria Vivians and Teaira McCowan both earned All-America and First Team All-SEC honors. Vivians finished the regular season third in scoring at 19.6 ppg and shot 11.4 percentage points higher than last season from both the field and 3-point range while also pulling down a career-best 6.0 rpg.
McCowan was named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year after putting together a banner season that saw her average 17.7 ppg and rank third nationally with 13.2 rpg. McCowan, who recorded a school-record 23 double-doubles, also topped the country on the offensive glass with 5.9 rpg.
He's joined by Geno Auriemma of UConn, Kelly Graves of Oregon and Muffet McGraw of Notre Dame as finalists for the award.