STARKVILLE, MS (WLBT) - Vic Schaefer is once again being recognized for his work in Starkville. The head coach of the No. 5 Mississippi State women’s basketball team is among the late-season candidates for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Thursday.
Schaefer’s squad has responded to the loss of four seniors in consecutive seasons without missing a beat. The Dawgs are 25-2 with a 13-1 mark in conference play and are 5-1 against ranked opponents. MSU has been in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for 91 straight weeks, including a 55-week run inside the Top 10.
The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring margin (+30.4) and boast the No. 3 scoring offense (87.3 ppg) in the country. They top the SEC in field goal percentage (49.2 percent), assist/turnover ratio (1.3), assists (16.7 apg), rebound margin (+14.1) and offensive rebounding (17.9 rpg).
State has made history along the way again this season, especially in conference play. MSU handed Tennessee its largest loss in conference play with a 28-point win in February then closed the month with another 28-point win over then-No. 22 Texas A&M that marked the Bulldogs’ biggest win over a ranked opponent in school history.
Solid defense, a trademark of all Schaefer squads, has also been on display as the Dawgs held LSU to just 13 points in the first half on the way to allowing just 35 points to the Tigers in January. That marked the fewest points an opponent had ever scored against State in SEC play. MSU has twice held teams to just four points in a quarter this year.
Schaefer has developed a roster that features no McDonald’s High School All-Americans as he signed the program’s first such player in the 2019 signing class. He has helped his team respond to adversity as MSU followed its only two losses with 47-point and 28-point victories on the road in the next games.
The Bulldogs lost Chloe Bibby, who was third in the SEC in three-point field goal percentage and averaged 11.9 points, early in conference play, and replaced her with its fifth new starter of the year. Of the six players to start a game for MSU this season, only All-American Teaira McCowan had started for Schaefer before this season. Two of those starters, Anriel Howard and Andra Espinoza-Hunter, are in their first year in the program.
State tops the SEC standings and can clinch at least a share of their second consecutive regular-season conference title with a win on Thursday. MSU could win the title outright that night with a win and a South Carolina loss.
MSU will host LSU on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. CT for its final regular-season home game of the year. The contest will air on SEC Network+ and Senior Night ceremonies will follow the game. The Bulldogs will then close conference play against the No. 14/15 Gamecocks in Columbia, South Carolina, on Sunday, March 3 at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.