Finalists for the Gillom Trophy were Mississippi State seniors Blair Schaefer, junior Tearia McCowan and senior Victoria Vivians. Vivians won the award for a fourth straight year. Photo by: Mississippi State Athletic Media Relations
March 5, 2018 9:26:48 PM
JACKSON -- Victoria Vivians is going to have to find some additional space in her living room.
The Mississippi State senior better make sure that space above the fireplace is fortified.
Vivians will have to pick a sturdy spot because she made history Monday afternoon by becoming the first four-time recipient of the Gillom Trophy, which is given annually to the best women's college basketball player in the state of Mississippi.
Vivians received the award in a ceremony at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. She was a finalist with MSU teammates Blair Schaefer and Teaira McCowan.
"I didn't know," Vivians said when asked if she knew she was going to receive the award. "I mean, fingers crossed when you have Blair Schaefer and Teaira McCowan, you've got a double-double and a get-down-and-dirty (kind of player) and all I am doing is scoring. C'mon now. They are doing all of the hard work.
"I am just very grateful because they put me in position to get the award four times in a row."
Vivians is having her best season for No. 4 MSU (32-1), which won its first Southeastern Conference regular-season title and had its program-record winning streak snapped Sunday in a 62-51 loss to South Carolina in the championship game of the SEC tournament. The 6-foot-1 guard from Carthage finished the regular season averaging 19.6 points per game. She reached double figures in 32 games, including 15 20-point games and two 30-point games. She was named to the SEC All-Tournament team Sunday after averaging 17.3 points and 5.3 rebounds in guiding the Bulldogs to the championship game for the third-consecutive year.
The third Bulldog to score 2,000-career points, Vivians has posted the best shooting percentages of her career, hitting 48.5 percent from the field, 39.5 percent from 3-point range, and 81.4 percent from the free-throw line. Vivians is also averaging a career-best six rebounds per game.
Vivians said her improvement from her junior to her senior season makes winning the award this year feel a little different.
"Last year, I stayed frustrated a lot," Vivians said. "This year, I am not nearly as frustrated as I was. I am more confident. I am taking great shots. I am getting to the basket because people don't really know how to guard me, so I can mix up my game a little bit."
Vivians, a first-team All-SEC performer for the third-straight year, hopes to use the award as motivation for herself and for the team. Vivians also is a finalist for the Wooden Award, Senior CLASS Award, Ann Meyers Drysdale Award, and the Dawn Staley Award. She is a semifinalist for the Naismith Trophy.
"Look, we have lost the championship game in the SEC tournament three times in a row," Vivians said. "It gets old, so I feel like it is motivation for us and the seniors because it is our last year, so why not try to go get it all."
Schaefer was one of three to share the SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year award for women's basketball. She also was named to the SEC All-Defensive team. Schaefer said it is an honor to be nominated for the award with special teammates like Vivians and McCowan.
"They're up for so many national awards, and I don't ever get put in awards like this," Schaefer said. "For people to actually put me in for something like this from the state of Mississippi, it really means a lot because I work really hard. I don't necessarily average the most points, but I really try and pour everything into my game. For people to see that, it is really special."
Schaefer, a 5-7 senior guard, is averaging 9.5 ppg. She leads the Bulldogs in charges taken (24), 3-pointers (88), and minutes per game (32). Schaefer is shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range.
Schaefer said the drive she has allows her to pour all she has into her time on the court and into her studies. She said being mediocre at things "drives me nuts," which is why she wants to be the best in her schoolwork.
"It motivates me to stay at the top because there are a lot of people that are like, 'I just want to go to college and play basketball,' " Schaefer said. "Basketball is not forever, so I feel like if I really pour myself into my academics it will pay off down the line whenever I need a job or people see my work ethic on and off the court they will be impressed by that."
McCowan, a 6-7 junior center, shared the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award with South Carolina's A'ja Wilson. She also was named first-team All-SEC. McCowan leads MSU with 23 double-doubles.
"It is a high honor knowing that Mississippi thinks the highest of you to be a finalist," McCowan said. "I have grown a lot. You can see (the difference in) what I do from last year to this point. It is a big jump."
MSU coach Vic Schaefer, who is Blair's father, said it is special to get to coach three great players and great young ladies.
"It doesn't happen very often," coach Schaefer said. "I think it speaks to our team and the success we have had with our team. Each of those young ladies made decisions to come to Mississippi State when maybe it wasn't the fashionably thing to do, but the legacy they have created is really unique and so very special.
"To have all three finalists today, it may never happen again."
This is the seventh time a MSU player has won the Gillom Trophy. Martha Alwal won in 2013. Alexis Rack won the award in 2009 and in 2010.
The award is named after former Ole Miss great Peggy Gillom.
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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