Mississippi State senior Blair Schaefer holds up an SEC champions sign celebrating her teams win over Texas A&M on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018 to win the regular season SEC championship. Photo by: Jim Lytle/Special to the Dispatch
February 19, 2018 10:43:57 AM
STARKVILLE -- The chant started with 1 minute, 47 seconds remaining.
It grew in momentum until all of the 9,933 inside Humphrey Coliseum were yelling in unison to acknowledge what soon would become reality: the Mississippi State women's basketball team was Southeastern Conference regular-season champion.
Buoyed by a team-high 26 points from senior Victoria Vivians, No. 2 MSU defeated No. 17 Texas A&M 76-55 in front of the third-straight sell-out crowd at the Hump.
The victory helped MSU (28-0, 14-0 SEC) clinch its first SEC regular-season championship. It also is MSU's first SEC title in any women's sport.
Vivians tied her career high with 12 rebounds for her second double-double of the season. Roshunda Johnson added 16 points, Morgan William had 11 points and seven assists, and Blair Schaefer and Teaira McCowan had 11 points and 11 rebounds. McCowan's double-double was her 20th of the season.
"Today was special for these young ladies, my family and my Mississippi State family," MSU coach Vic Schaefer said. "It was a great atmosphere. Texas A&M has an excellent team. I thought we were spectacular the way we defended. We really came out of the blocks ready to go.
"Playing in this league, coaching in this league is a grind," he added. "You are playing against the best players and coaches in the nation. To be able (to win the SEC championship) before our Mississippi State family was special."
MSU opened the game on an 11-0 run. It led 24-9 after one quarter before Texas A&M (20-8, 9-5) cut the deficit to 29-23 late in the second quarter. But Vivians hit a runner and a 3-pointer off an assist from William and McCowan added a layup to give the Bulldogs a 36-25 halftime lead.
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair, who was Vic Schaefer's boss for 15 years at Arkansas and Texas A&M, said those baskets helped erase his team's momentum. The Aggies didn't get any closer than nine points the rest of the way.
In addition to clinching the regular-season title, MSU set a new school record for conference victories in a season.
MSU will try to complete the undefeated regular season against Auburn at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Hump and Kentucky on Sunday in Lexington, Kentucky.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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