Second place, the two words that have followed Mississippi State University's Women’s Basketball over the course of head coach Vic Schaefer’s tenure. SEC Champions, the two words now follow that same basketball program.
“Sometimes, you have to go through really hard times, some really disappointing times,” Schaefer said. “I have been really disappointed at times for my kids and my staff, because I know how hard they work. It just wasn’t our time and sometimes the good Lord puts you through those times to get you somewhere bigger and better.”
Schaefer said accomplishing this victory at home in the Humphrey Coliseum just added to the experience.
“It was really special, and to be able to do it in front of our fans,” Schaefer said. “I couldn’t be happier for our players, I know how hard they work. I know the blood, sweat and tears they pour into this, as well as my staff. That is the thing I am thinking about when that happens, finally our kids are not in the locker room listening to somebody else scream on the floor. It is us.”
Victoria Vivians, a senior from Carthage, and Teaira McCowan, a junior from Brenham, Texas, took in the moment by dancing in the streamers as they fell on the team after the game.
“It (streamers) has always been going in our face, but it was not ours,” Vivians said. “So it was finally ours, so we just tried to enjoy the moment.”
Schaefer and his No. 2 Bulldogs (27-0, 14-0 SEC) captured the outright SEC Regular Season Title on Sunday night in their 76-55 win over No. 17 Texas A&M (20-8, 9-5 SEC). The title was not only the first regular season title in women’s basketball at MSU, but the first in any women’s sport at the school.
“This league is nothing but a grind,” Schaefer said. “You are going against the best coaches in the country, you are going against the best players in the country night in and night out, and these kids have answered the bell every single night.”
Not afraid of the big moment, MSU came out scorching hot as they took an 11-0 lead to open up the game, and finished the first quarter at 24-9. Roshunda Johnson, a senior from Little Rock, Arkansas, jump-started MSU to their 11-0 start with two threes, sending the 9,933 in attendance into a frenzy.
“It felt good,” Johnson said.
A&M got within six in the second quarter before MSU stretched the lead back to 11 at half. MSU ran away with the game in the third quarter, taking a 19-point lead into the final period. There, they continued to run away with the game. MSU’s largest lead of the night was 23 points.
The usual stars showed up for MSU on Sunday night. Vivians led the team in points with 26 points and registered a double-double by grabbing 12 rebounds.
Keeping true to their form all season, it was a team win for MSU. All five of the starters scored double digits. Morgan William scored 12 points and picked up seven assists. McCowan scored 11 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked two shots. Blair Schaefer scored 11, going 3-6 from behind the three point arc and was the only player to play all 40 minutes of the game.
Johnson scored 16 points, but her biggest contribution came on the defensive end as she shut down A&M’s Danni Williams, who entered the night averaging 14.9 points a game. Sunday night, she only scored one.
Their next game is Thursday at home against Auburn. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and the SEC Network will broadcast the game.
In the end, Sunday night was a big win and a big step for this program, but these Bulldogs have two more words they want to follow them by the time the season ends: national champions.
“We’re not done yet,” Vic Schaefer said.