The girls are 28-0, hold the longest active win streak in the NCAA, and have just claimed the program’s first ever SEC title. Each are historic accomplishments, but if you asked the team, I’m sure they’d say, “We aren’t done yet.” And indeed they are not. Whenever a team goes on an undefeated run like this, people often feel uneasy because they think they need to get a loss “out of their system,” but that is not the feeling around this team. For the Bulldogs, that loss came last year on April 2nd in Dallas. It is a new season, and they have the talent, depth, and experience needed to win it all.
The Bulldogs are averaging 83.5 points per game and are beating their opponents by nearly 29 points per game. This dominance is led by senior Victoria Vivians, who has the ability to score from anywhere on the court, averaging 19.9 points per game and is shooting 50% from the field. Like A’Ja Wilson for South Carolina, a team that goes on to win the National Championship has to have a game-changing player, and for the Bulldogs, her name is Victoria Vivians.
Under the rim stands six-foot-seven and powerful presence, Teaira McCowan. She has significantly improved from last season and is a major piece of the puzzle for this team. To this point, McCowan has a staggering 169 offensive rebounds, which is a huge part of why the Bulldogs are outshooting (and therefore, outscoring) their opponents by nearly 11 attempts per game. This may not sound like a significant number, but when you consider how deadly the team’s 3-point shooting is, it’s a game changer.
Speaking of 3-point shooting, Blair Schaefer and Roshunda Johnson are shooting a combined 42% from beyond the arc, coming through with a big bucket each time the team needs it most. Consistency at the 3-point line was a weakness for the team last season, but defending this new and improved deep-ball threat is proving to be a near impossible task for opposing defenses.
Even with all of those components, a championship caliber team needs a play-caller to run the offense: Enter, Morgan “Mo” William. Though she’s averaging only 7.3 points per game this season, she leads the team with 133 assists, more than doubling anyone else’s total. Mo has not put up many shots this season, but her impactful defense and very presence on the court makes this team better.
When you consider the players on the floor, the Bulldogs have a versatile scorer in Vivians, a strong presence and 62% FG shooter in McCowan, Ro and Schaefer throwing down 3’s from different area codes, and Mo running circles around defenders, this combination stretches defenses because there’s no weak-link on the floor. Compared to last season, the team is shooting more efficiently and allowing less points.
Behind the starters, Jazzmun Holmes, Jordan Danberry, Chloe Bibby, and Zion Campbell have logged a lot of minutes this season and have proven to be strong players coming off the bench for Coach Schaefer. They are plenty capable of providing a spark of energy to the team, and this depth will be crucial as the season grows longer.
Aside from the players’ playing capabilities, post-season experience is just as important. Anyone who has played sports knows that pressure and “the moment” can get to an athlete, but this team has already been there. They know what it feels like to be on the biggest stage, they have an incredible coach and senior leadership to guide them, and fans that will follow in droves to wherever they go.
Each of these components add up to what should be the formula for a team that can go all the way. First reported by Bob Carskadon following the team’s win over No. 17 Texas A&M, Vivians said it best when speaking of the celebratory confetti on the court. “It’s always thrown in our face and it’s never ours. It was finally ours.”