Schaefer, McCowan

Mississippi State coach Vic Schaefer hugs senior Teaira McCowan as she comes off the court in the final minutes of her final regular season NCAA college basketball game.

Coach Vic Schaefer even said it himself at the beginning of the season about his Mississippi State Bulldogs.

After losing four senior starters from last year’s NCAA Final Four team that participated in the national championship game for the second-straight season, Schaefer was anxious to see how his team would respond in 2018-19.

Schaefer plugged Jazzmun Holmes, Anriel Howard, Jordan Danberry and Andra Espinoza-Hunter into the starting lineup to go along with Teaira McCowan and the Bulldogs have still enjoyed a high level of success.

MSU won the Southeastern Conference regular season championship for the second consecutive season and captured the SEC Tournament title for the first time by defeating Arkansas 101-70 on Sunday.

Already becoming the SEC Coach of the Year for the third time during his tenure with the Bulldogs, Schaefer is also on the list again for the 2019 Werner Ladder Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year Award, which was announced by the Atlanta Tipoff Club on Tuesday.

“It's about those kids,” Schaefer said after the SEC Tournament championship game. “To see the fruits of their labor come to fruition. As a coach, it's why you do what you do.”

With the SEC Tournament title obtained, MSU knows it has automatically qualified for the NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs are a lock anyway because of their 30-2 overall record. It will be the fifth consecutive season the Bulldogs will be included in the Big Dance.

State has been ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for 93-straight weeks, including a 57-week run in the top 10. It strengthened that hold by moving up one spot to No. 4 this week.

Fans who would like to support Schaefer and cast a vote on his behalf can do so by visiting NaismithTrophy.com/vote between March 22-April 3. Fan votes will account for 5 percent of the award.

Schaefer and his staff have been able to develop McCowan into one of the top players in the country.

After claiming SEC Player of the Year, SEC Defensive Player of the Year and SEC Tournament Most Valuable Player, McCowan, has been selected as one of four finalists for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award presented by Bona. That list was also released on Tuesday.

Along with scoring 17.8 points per game, McCowan averages 13.5 rebounds per outing and has blocked 174 shots.

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