No. 2 Mississippi State wraps up SEC regular-season title
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Shortly after the final buzzer sounded Sunday in front of a near-capacity crowd of 9,933 at Humphrey Coliseum, Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer grabbed a microphone.
The No. 2 Bulldogs had just wrapped up a 76-55 win over No. 17 Texas A&M. It was another ho-hum Southeastern Conference victory for Mississippi State (28-0, 14-0 SEC) outside of the fact that more history was made for Schaefer and company.
A win captured the first-ever SEC championship for any women’s team in school history and Schaefer’s tearful response to the fanbase he helped built capped it.
“I believed and dreamed of this day to share with you in this moment,” Schaefer said. “This is what makes Mississippi State so special.”
A few days after clinching at least a share of the conference title at Vanderbilt, Mississippi State had no plans of coasting. The Bulldogs used an 11-0 run to start the game with two 3-pointers a piece from Victoria Vivians and Roshunda Johnson to jump out to a double digit lead they would hold on to most of the game.
Vivians sparkled as she had all year with her 26 points and 12 rebounds on 10-of-16 shooting. It was a game she intended on making sure her team finished off.
Postgame Vivians played in confetti shot out of cannons. With losses in back-to-back SEC Tournaments and the national championship a year ago, she relished this celebration.
“We’re so used to having it thrown in our face after a loss. We enjoyed this one,” Vivians said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity (to win a championship) and I couldn’t do it without my teammates and our coaches.”
Aggies freshman Chennedy Carter scored 16 of their first 21 points and finished with 31 on 12-of-29 shooting. She was just 1 of 8 from 3-point range.
Sharp-shooter Danni Williams was held to just one point after averaging 14.7 a game coming in.
“(Roshunda) Johnson had a good game because she was the one responsible of shutting down Danni Williams,” Texas A&M coach Gary Blair said. “It wasn’t so much that we were doing wrong that they were doing right.”
While the Aggies were nearly one-dimensional with the exception of Anriel Howard (14 points and 10 rebounds), the Bulldogs had too many options than A&M could handle. Along with Vivians, Johnson had 16 points, and McCowan added her 20th double-double of the season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Morgan William had 12 points and seven rebounds, Blair Schaefer finished with 11 points.
The Aggies cut what was once a 17-point lead in the first half to six in the second quarter.
It was 36-25 for the home team at halftime and they would put the game away in the third quarter.
Mississippi State held the Aggies to 32 percent from the field and allowed just one long ball in 12 tries. The Aggies (20-8, 9-5 SEC) did hold the edge on the rebounds with 43-36.
CLINCHING TOP SEED: The Bulldogs had clinched at least a share of the conference title as well as the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament on Thursday night with a 95-50 win at Vanderbilt.
“To be able to do it in front of our Mississippi State family, it was very special,” Vic Schaefer said. “This entire team pays the price every day. I’m happy for my players and my staff.”
Mississippi State: Hosts Auburn on Thursday night.
Texas A&M: At Arkansas on Thursday night.