February 16, 2018 10:38:27 AM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Mississippi State women's basketball team earned a piece of history Thursday night.
Teaira McCowan and Victoria Vivians shared team-high scoring honors with 19 points to lead No. 2 MSU to a 95-50 victory against Vanderbilt at Memorial Gymnasium.
The win allowed MSU (27-0, 13-0 Southeastern Conference) to earn at least a share of its first SEC regular-season title. It also enabled MSU to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the SEC tournament. The top four seeds get double byes in the annual event.
MSU will have a chance to win the SEC regular-season title outright at 4 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2) when it plays host to Texas A&M at Humphrey Coliseum.
"If you're going to do this, y'all, you've got to stack classes," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "You can't get one good class and then go two or three years and get another. You've got to stack recruiting classes. You recruit, you retain and you develop and that's been the secret to our success."
McCowan added 11 rebounds for her 19th double-double of the season, and 29th of her career. Roshunda Johnson had 13 points and five steals, while Blair Schaefer added 12 points and Jordan Danberry had 10.
Morgan William added nine assists for the Bulldogs, who led 76-38 after three quarters.
McCowan, a 6-foot-7 junior center who also had 11 rebounds for her 19th double-double, said "chemistry" was the formula was for the unbeaten record.
"Knowing where people are on the court. Knowing who needs help and who doesn't need help. And playing for each other," McCowan said.
Vanderbilt, whose youthful lineup starts two freshmen, two sophomores and one senior, made 26 turnovers under constant pressure from MSU.
"I think you see why they're a national championship contending team," Vanderbilt coach Stephanie White said. "It's crazy to say, but they're probably even better than they were last year. They have more balance, they're shooting the ball from 3 particularly well. McCowan is a beast inside -- just really tough to handle -- and they defend the heck out of you."
MSU made national headlines when it ended four-time reigning national champion Connecticut's 111-game winning streak last season in the Final Four, avenging a 60-point loss in the tournament the previous season. MSU lost to SEC champion South Carolina in the final.
Roshunda Johnson added 13 points, and Blair Schaefer had 12 for the Bulldogs, who outrebounded the Commodores 34-20. MSU boasted a 17-5 advantage on the offensive glass as it dominated play most of the way.
MSU hit 10 of 25 from beyond the 3-point arc, including four by Schaefer, who is the daughter of coach Vic Schaefer.
The Bulldogs enjoyed their sixth-highest point total of the season. Jordan Danberry scored 10 points off the bench.
The Bulldogs outscored the Commodores 16-2 in second-chance points.
"We came out ready to play," coach Schaefer said. "I was concerned going in because Vanderbilt has been shooting the ball well as of late. They shot the ball well in this game. We forced 26 turnovers. That was a big stat. I really thought we went out there and took it tonight.
"This team has been in this position (clinching the SEC) and didn't respond. Tonight, they did. We played well in every phase of the game. I liked our toughness. The way we shared the basketball. The way we defended."
MSU and Connecticut remain the only undefeated Division I women's basketball teams.
The Bulldogs shot 54.4 percent from the field and hit 10 3-pointers. They had eight in the first half when they shot 50 percent from behind the arc. MSU also scored 36 points off 26 turnovers by Vanderbilt (6-21, 2-11).
Jazzmun Holmes matched Johnson with five steals.
Johnson had three 3-pointers in the first quarter to help MSU build a 26-11 lead.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs used a 12-3 run to extend the lead to 21 at 40-19. A layup by Vivians capped the first-half Christa Reed led Vanderbilt with 14 points. Kayla Overbeck added 12.
"It's special, but I think this group is a little greedy," Schaefer said of clinching a share of the regular-season title. "I think we'd like to go get it outright and I don't think we're interested in sharing rings with anybody."
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