Seniors the focus of MSU women's basketball awards banquet
There weren't many dry eyes in the house at The Mill Conference Center on Tuesday night.
As Mississippi State women’s basketball coach Vic Schaefer said goodbye to the winningest senior class in school history at the team’s awards banquet, it wasn’t easy for him.
He called it a “bittersweet” event for him personally.
Also when Breanna Richardson, Ketara Chapel, Dominique Dillingham and Chinwe Okorie got their opportunity to step to the podium and say thank you to the coaches, teammates, support staff and fans, there were some tears at times for them.
Schaefer also didn’t hold back when talking about the class that won 111 games during their career and finished on the biggest stage, which was the NCAA Final Four and the national championship game.
“We are certainly here to celebrate an incredible season, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s a difficult night for me and a sad night for me,” Schaefer said as his voice began to crack with emotion. “I have to say bye to four … really special seniors, who have meant as much to me personally, as well as professionally, as any student-athletes I’ve ever coached. I couldn’t call a turkey right now if I had too.”
Schaefer credited Richardson, Chapel, Dillingham and Okorie for believing in what the coaches were saying and buying into their plan for building the Bulldogs.
As much as Schaefer appreciated the contributions of Richardson, Chapel, Dillingham and Okorie on the court, the character of the seniors is what he admired the most.
“The thing that impresses me the most about them is that they are loving daughters,” Schaefer said. “I could see that in the recruiting process and that makes them a great fit for me personally No. 1.
“They believed in a vision and then made it happen. We can all go through life and that never happen, but they made it happen. They took part and were a big part of why we stand here today with the success that we had. Their toughness and resilience along with their teammates was on display every night for 39 nights over the season.”
MSU started the season with a program-best 20-straight wins and set school marks for overall wins with 34, which was second-most in the nation, and a school record 13 Southeastern Conference victories.
The Bulldogs finished the season ranked in the top 10 for 19-straight weeks, which is the sixth-longest active streak nationally.
Along the way this year, MSU set school marks in points scored with 2,961, field goals made at 1,079, free-throw percentage at 73.1 percent, total rebounds at 1,482 and assists with 574.
Most of those assists were delivered by junior point guard Morgan William, who received the awards for Miss Offense and Most Outstanding Player on Tuesday night.
Blair Schaefer, a former Starkville High School player, won Miss Hustle and the Tommy and Terri Nusz Most Outstanding Bulldog awards, while Richardson claimed the Team Academic Award, Jacaira "Iggy" Allen captured the Academic Award, Jazzmun Holmes was honored as Most Improved, Teaira McCowan won the Sixth Man Award, just as she did for the Southeastern Conference, Dillingham was given the Miss Defense Award, and Victoria Vivians joined William as Miss Offense.
Dillingham and William received commemorative basketballs for scoring their 1,000th point during the season and Vic Schaefer was also awarded a basketball for getting his 200th career coaching win.
Larry and former MSU head coach Sharon Fanning-Otis were recognized by Schaefer as this year’s Fans of the Year.