March 12, 2019 10:50:38 AM
FROM SPECIAL REPORTS
STARKVILLE - Three-time Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year Vic Schaefer has been named a semifinalist for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Women's Coach of the Year Award, the Atlanta Tipoff Club announced on Tuesday.
Schaefer is one of four semifinalists to have previously won the award after receiving it last season. He is the only SEC coach to make the list. The list will be narrowed to four finalists on March 21, and fans will be able to support Schaefer by voting at NaismithTrophy.com/vote between March 22-April 3. Fan votes will account for five percent of the overall total. The winner will be announced on April 6.
After winning the SEC regular-season title outright, No. 4 Mississippi State cruised through Greenville last week to claim the program's first SEC Tournament championship. The Bulldogs won their first two tournament games by 15 points each, then exploded for a 101-70 victory in the title game against Arkansas.
Schaefer's squad has responded to the loss of four seniors in consecutive seasons without missing a beat. The Dogs are 30-2 with a 15-1 mark in conference play and are 6-1 against ranked opponents. MSU has been in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for 93 straight weeks, including a 57-week run inside the Top 10.
The Bulldogs lead the nation in scoring margin (+28.3) and boast the No. 2 scoring offense (86.1 ppg) in the country. They top the SEC in field goal percentage (49.2 percent), assist/turnover ratio (1.3), assists (16.6 apg), rebound margin (+12.9) and offensive rebounding (17.3 rpg).
Solid defense, a trademark of all Schaefer's squads, has also been on display, as the Dogs ranked second in points allowed in the SEC (57.8 ppg). MSU forced 19.6 turnovers per game and boasted the eighth-best turnover margin in the nation. Led by SEC Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Tournament MVP Teaira McCowan, State has blocked 174 shots, which is ninth nationally and tied for second in school history.
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 its next games.
Of the seven 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.
MSU will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history when the bracket is announced on Monday, March 18. The Selection Show will air at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN, and fans are invited to join the team for a watch party in Humphrey Coliseum.
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