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Penn State vs. Fordham
WNIT – Second Round
March 19, 2017
Coquese Washington | Head Coach
Q: You started off a little slow and it was your defense that got things going, specifically the full court press that seemed to add some momentum. Did you know that would be the key to get things going for you guys?
CW: We always talk about letting our defense dictate our offense. We can’t always control whether the ball goes in the basket and I thought early on we got some good shots, they just didn’t fall. Our defense was good the first quarter and once we got a few baskets to fall our defense stayed pretty high and allowed us to get out to a lead that first quarter.
Q: Amari did a lot tonight – scoring, assists, rebounds, steals. Could you talk about her play tonight?
CW: I think Amari is starting to round out into having the confidence that she can do a number of things. I think she’s learning; she doesn’t get as frustrated when things don’t necessarily go her way. If she misses a shot or misses somebody who’s open she doesn’t get as frustrated because she has the confidence that she can come back and make a play the next time. She’s an incredibly talented player and when Teniya and [Amari] are feeding off of each other like they were tonight, that confidence spreads through the whole team. She’s able to make plays on both ends of the floor and it helps our pace of play. When you have two guards out there who handle the ball as much as they do, playing against a man-to-man defense for almost 40 min and having only one turnover between the two of them, I’ll take that any day of the week.
Q: With the two runs there it was combined 27-2 run. It seemed you put it away early. How nice is it to have it in your hands from the start?
CW: It’s nice to play with a cushion, but one thing that we talked about was that when [Fordham] played Georgetown on Friday it was a similar scenario. They only scored 14 points by halftime and they managed to come back and win that game. They hit a lot of 3-pointers the second half after facing a double-digit deficit at halftime. We were well aware that their ability to make 3-pointers can have the ability to get them back in the game quickly, and the way they rebounded the ball tonight, especially early in the second quarter their second chance opportunities really hurt us. We never felt like we were on cruise control. We have a lot of respect for Fordham and their ability, and trying to play hard to try and keep that gap the rest of the game.
Q: Speaking of rebounding, you handled the Rams in nearly every category except rebounding. Is that something to be alarmed about or is it just because you guys were playing small most of the game?
CW: I definitely don’t think it’s because we were playing small, they just beat us to the ball. We didn’t do as good of a job rebounding as we normally do. You counter balance that with we did well. We did a great job taking care of the ball, only six turnovers…and we shot the ball very well; 49 percent from the field, 54 percent from the three-point line and 83 percent from the free throw line. When you shoot the ball that well it can counteract what you give up on the boards, but moving forward against Virginia Tech we will definitely pay more attention to that and hopefully get a better rebounding game.
Q: How valuable was it to be able to rest some of your starters because you had the lead today?
CW: I don’t feel that we rested people that much. It’s a lot of 30 plus minutes on the stat sheet, but when you can get Teniya a few minutes here and there it allows her to finish the game. Getting Siyeh [Frazier] and Jaida [Travascio-Green] reps in postseason play, and being out there is very valuable to their growth and development.
Q: What kind of progression are you seeing defensively from Siyeh and offensively from Jaida?
CW: Defensively with Siyeh, she’s doing a better job of containing the ball. She’s really quick, she has active hands and she creates steals and turnovers with her intensity. She’s doing a better job of containing the ball and not getting beat. With Jaida, coming off of her ankle injury, she’s starting to get her confidence and when she comes out and makes a couple of those 3-pointers, it really spreads throughout the team. It gives everybody confidence, spreads the floor, and gives more driving lanes for Amari and Teniya.
Q: Siyeh has got a lot of playing time. What kind of impact do you think Siyeh has made over these past few games?
CW: Being able to play Siyeh and, in some respects, not miss a beat has been really good for us. She’s practiced really well and she’s just going out on game day and doing the things she does in practice so it’s been seamless.
Q: Does this go back to what you have been talking about all season, the depth of your bench and the ability to rotate players and not have a dip in performance?
CW: I think one of the things I like about this team is our versatility. We played our first two games in this tournament and Ashanti [Thomas] hasn’t played very many minutes because we played against teams that were smaller but we’ve counteracted that by playing a smaller lineup and being impactful. Siyeh is a part of that because she can get out there and run around and get us going defensively. Versatility and being able to have productivity off of our bench is really important.
Q: What was your message to your team at half time, you were up big you were up by 24 at one point, so it doesn’t get to their head?
CW: At halftime, we talked about the Fordham-Georgetown game. I think they had 12 points at half time against us, they had 14 against Georgetown and it was a very similar situation. I just cautioned the team that Fordham wasn’t going to go away and we needed to continue to be aggressive, we needed to continue to be on the attack, and do the things we did the first half to not let them get to close and get back in the game.
Q: Could you talk about Amari’s progression throughout the season? A year ago, you were not in postseason play, she was rehabbing and now she seems to be playing more consistent.
CW: There’s no question one of the differences in the success of this team, and where we are at this point this year versus where we were last year, is Amari Carter’s presence. She’s a dynamic player and having her on the court just makes us a better team. It gives us more options, she’s fantastic with handling the ball, taking care of the ball, finding teammates, giving people easy plays. Having her out there to play with Teniya, having her out there to run the team on the floor, it’s just certainly a luxury and it’s no question our team is better this year because Amari Carter is playing.
Amari Carter | So./Fr. | G
Q: With just one turnover combined between yourself and Teniya, what went right for you ball handling wise and how were you able to take care of the ball today?
AC: I was just doing what I know how to do: take care of the ball and make the right passes to open people.
Q: In the last game you were making some athletic moves and today it seemed like the mid-range jumper was working. Coming off the knee injury a year ago, do you feel like your game is back? Do you feel like your offensive arsenal is back?
AC: Yeah, I feel like stuff just happens. I deal with it well, but really I just take what the defense gives me or how adjust to how the opponent is playing us. Whether they want to double the screen or trap the screens or whatever they want to do, it just depends on how they play us.
Q: How nice is it to be playing at home for these first couple rounds?
AC: I think we have played really well at home all season. A year ago, I didn’t know where we would be. The possibilities are endless, so I am just glad and happy to be here. I know we are happy to be here and continue on in the tournament in front of our home crowd.
Q: What is something that you guys can take from today and apply to your next game?
AC: Definitely that no team is just going to fold over and go away. Every team is going to fight; this is a tournament everyone wants to win. So just play the same game all four quarters.
Teniya Page | So./So. | G
Q: With just one turnover combined between yourself and Amari, what went right for you ball handling wise and how were you able to take care of the ball today?
TP: It’s pretty much [just making smart plays]. Making the right play and not trying to do too much, then finding people when they are open.
Q: Your teammates played really well tonight and you didn’t have to put the team on your back like you sometimes can. How much of a luxury is it when everyone is playing well and does that change your style of play?
TP: I wouldn’t say it changes my style of play, but it is good to have people rolling with the confidence to have more options. Most of the time that means I am going to be more open because [the opposition] tries to double Sierra [Moore] because she was playing well and then I was open. So, I think everyone being on the same page and having the confidence that everyone is going to be playing well is helping.
Q: Could you feel the momentum shifting early? It was kind of a struggle to start, but then you were able to rattle off a 15-0 run in the first quarter.
TP: I think it started with the defense and we got a couple steals and then we were able to get out in transition. I kind of feel that we started to get momentum that way and then at the beginning of the game we were doing a good job of boxing out and running. So I think it was the defense, especially Sierra at the top of the press and then Amari reading the passing lanes.
Q: You told me that Amari is your best friend on the team. How much fun did you guys have playing tonight? Especially playing at such a high level and at home in the postseason?
TP: Its fun. I feel like a lot of the time [Amari] and I are on the same page. I think one of her shots went in and it was probably a pass for me, but it kind of just went off at that point. It’s fun playing with her. Like I said, were always on the same page and we can always make jokes between each other to lighten the mood a little.