Penn State vs. Michigan State Postgame Quotes

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Feb. 10, 2013

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Penn State Head Coach Coquese Washington

Q: How do you feel like you guys turned it around after the slow start?
A: Our defense. I thought we did a better job defensively of guarding them and not giving them easy shots. Offensively the first half, we were just playing too slow. We weren't running and pushing the ball up the floor when we had opportunities to. As I told the team, we were kind of muddling through on offense and I think we found some more energy late in the first half. We played faster, move the ball more and I think that carried over. In the second half, I think our defense intensity got us some opportunities in transition.

Q: What did you think of Alex's (Bentley) play today?
Q: You had 29 points off of turnovers today. Was that part of the plan? Did you think you guys were going to be able to do that today against Michigan State? A: I did not know the number but we take pride and we work hard on our defense and we want to make it tough for people to get good shots and to get open looks. I think as the course of the game went on, we got stronger. I felt like we gained more confidence defensively and we played better and together defensively and we kind of grew throughout the game. It doesn't matter how we get opportunities; whether it is from our defense or from good offensive execution, we just want to be aggressive attacking the basket.

Q: Can you talk about that crowd out there today?
A: The crowd was fantastic. Just walking out there at the very beginning and seeing that many people with the white shirts on. And as it was mentioned earlier, it is the last white out of the season and for our seniors, it was fantastic. We really feed off the crowd. We have a bunch of dramatic players on the team so when the crowd is going wild, it just feeds us, it gives is energy. The crowd was huge today. They gave us a tremendous boast.

Q: During your 21-7 run, what changed for you guys and how were you able to bring that into the second half?
A: I think Dara Taylor and her defensive intensity can be incredible at times. She got us started. She got a couple of steals and them we got some transition baskets, so I think it started with her pressure, with the defense. It gave us a little bit more energy and some momentum. We contested some shots and we got out and that just carried over to the start of the second half.

Q: What happened to Maggie (Lucas) at the end of the ball game?
A: She took a shot and has a little bit of a bruise in her side back area. She will be fine.

Q: This is really a tough stretch, playing every three or four days. How has that affected or impacted some of the things that the team struggles with initially?
A: I do not think it has impacted anything at all. They are all 19 to 20 years old. They play every three or four days. They will be fine and we have a tremendous strength and conditioning coach, so we are fine. It's more of a grind in conference play. You have to play at a high level for ten or eleven weeks and I think that is the tougher battle. I think it's the mentality of showing up every day and showing up to every practice focused and ready to execute and to fight through the monotony of the season. It is more of a mental challenge than it is a physical challenge for our kids. So far they have done a great job of fighting through.

Q: What does it mean take the season sweep from them (Michigan State)?
A: I really do not get into all of that. How many times we have beat them and all that. Michigan State is a great team. They are a tough team. They are a physical team. They are a hard working team. So any time you can beat them because of how they play, I think it speaks loudly of what the team is able to accomplish. We just want to win one game at a time and keep improving. We do not talk about getting the change to sweep them. We get a chance to see anybody to anybody again in the Big Ten tournament since we do not know how the standings are going to turn out and so it is about improving. It is about playing at our level. It is about taking all the challenges that are going to come our way. We are going to have physical challenges. We are going to have mental challenges. We are going to hit adversity throughout the game. We are not going to rebound. Can we bounce back? This is one game where we faced everything that they could throw at us: their defensive intensity, their rebounding, they are knocking down threes, they are making a push, they started out great, they started out on fire. How do we handle all that? How we handle all that will determine how good we can be. And how we handle that as players is going to exemplify who we become when we leave Penn State and who we are when we are not athletes. How are we going to handle adversity that hits us in life. That is what this is about. We do not care about season sweeps and all that. That's great for the media and that gives you guys to talk about. We want to win this game and now we are focused on the next game who I was told is Iowa. We will get ready for Iowa.

Q: With another 20-win season, how does that reflect on your consistency and on your senior class?
A: Did you say we had 20 wins this season? It is great. We will take it. We play Iowa on Thursday. I am happy for our seniors. They have done a great job. I know we lost three games. I know that number. But I am happy for our seniors. From where the program was when they were freshmen to where it is now, I take my hats off to them. We will try to make it 21 on Thursday.

#20 Alex Bentley

Q: You had a little bit of a slow start, how did you guys get it turned around?
A: We just had to adjust. Coach was telling us what we needed to do and we went out there and did it. We needed to adjust on defense and we needed more energy on the defensive end. We started to get after it and that's when the game started turning around.

Q: Alex, 15 out of 20 points in the second half, what were you seeing differently during the second half as opposed to the first?
A: Coach kept telling me to get in the lane. We were in the bonus there for a while, so she kept challenging me to get in the lane. My posts kept helping me out too, with their screens and steals. So, half of my points go to them.

Q: Alex, did it contribute toward the end of the ball game?
A: I just feel like we had a mental lapse. We were up 19 (points) and they brought it back within 9 or 10 (points). We just can't let that happen. When we get up, we have to keep that lead and keep getting after it.

Q: How did you guys feed off your defense especially mid-way through the first half to pick up your offense?
A: We always feed off our defense. That's really where it starts because we want to play fast and in order to play fast we get on our defensive end. So we are in passing lanes and we're pressuring up. Dara Taylor had some really good steals there and we just keep pressuring and running.

Q: For both Alex and Nikki, it's your last game as seniors for the WhiteOut, how did the crowd help you through the last couple minutes of the game? How does it feel for it to be your last game as seniors for the WhiteOut?
A: I feel great about it. Our crowd really helped us down there at the stretch. It's great to see fans in the stands and everyone supporting us. It's a great feeling. We had this mine and Nikki's freshman year, so it's awesome to be able to play in the environment that we play in now.

#54 Nikki Greene

Q: Nikki, these guys (Michigan State) have given you trouble over the years, what does it mean to you guys to sweep them?
A: It means a lot. It has shown our improvement over the years and we're playing really good. That's one reason why we really came out and played with them.

Q: For both Alex and Nikki, it's your last game as seniors for the WhiteOut, how did the crowd help you through the last couple minutes of the game? How does it feel for it to be your last game as seniors for the WhiteOut?
A: I didn't really think of it like that. It means a lot. The fans definitely helped out with getting our momentum going, especially after a couple minutes in the first half when we started getting steals. It feels good to come out with the win.

Michigan State Head Coach Suzy Merchant

Q: Where do you feel like this game got away from you?
A: Just in the turnover department. I thought we did some things that we normally don't do, and we've been pretty good at taking care of it. I thought those led to some easy points for them. But then we caught up and we were at the free throw line with a chance with three minutes to go to cut it to a two possession game, and could've got back in it. We just couldn't make our free throws, or get the ball to drop at certain times.

Q: What did they do defensively that caused problems for you guys?
A: You know how they were going to play. I don't know if there was one particular thing, it just seemed like some of our guards didn't do a good job of being strong with the ball. It should have been a foul situation, but instead they kind of bobbled the ball a little bit. I thought our bigs maybe didn't quite hold the ball as strong as they could have. We had a couple miscues from ourselves, just passing to each other and things that normally don't happen. It was a disappointing performance for us because I think we were certainly a better team than what we showed there in the second half. I did like that we fought back. We had a chance, and then we just couldn't make the free throws, or get a stop down the stretch there.

Q: You guys got a lot of offensive rebounds, but you only had five second chance points. Was that a big component why you weren't able to get over top?
A: Yes, that was frustrating. We did get some really good opportunities for rebounds, and then we just couldn't convert. You kind of look at theirs and they have 11, and they converted 12 points of those. For us, we got 18, it just seemed like we could have got a little bit better out of our efficiency rating for offensive rebounds. We just couldn't get the ball to drop.

Q: How difficult was Bentley for you guys today?
A: It was frustrating a little bit because we did some things early that I thought were effective, but then we got away from them in the second half. That's when she started to go a little bit. That was disappointing. She broke us down to the middle of the free throw line, which in the first half we weren't letting her get there. That's her shot: the right to left pull up jumper at the free throw line. We did a good job of keeping her to the sideline, both her and Lucas, not being able to break us down to the middle. And then we just had some breakdowns there where we weren't focused. Especially late in the shot clock she hit a couple fadeaways.

Q: You're used to playing in front of big crowds. Did the fans at Penn State today affect the game?
A: Not for us because, like you said, we're so used to it. We kind of like being the hated team. As a coach you're the underdog anyway when you go on the road in the Big Ten. I don't know if it had necessarily anything to do with it. It didn't hurt. But I think my team is veterans where we play in an environment and have a lot of people all around. So I'm not necessarily sure if it was a factor, but I thought it was a great atmosphere for women's basketball. I was really happy to see that for Penn State. It was an ESPN2 game, so that's good for our sport. I don't think that rattled our girls, I think the turnovers bothered our team more than how many people were in the stands. They were a great group, and they really cheered their team on well. When they got their transition game going you could hear it. It was fun to be a part of it. But I wouldn't say that was a factor for us, just because we've been around the block so much and we have that at home. But hopefully that continues here at Penn State. It's fun, and it's great for our team and our league.




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