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March 19, 2011
PENN STATE LADY LIONS
Coquese Washington, Penn State Head Coach
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the way some of your role players, especially Renee (Womack) impacted this game?
A: I thought our bench was fantastic and probably for us the difference in the game. Renee (Womack) and Marisa (Wolfe), even though she only played four minutes, those were a big four minutes. Ariel (Edwards) came off the bench and really gave us a lift and obviously Maggie (Lucas) came off the bench and gave us a lot. I thought their energy, especially in the first half, with Renee and Ariel defensively getting some deflections, helping us in the press, being active and aggressive in the press, I thought they were tremendous for us today.
Q: Can you talk about the pressure level and how you picked up the tempo after starting out a little slow?
A: We just felt like we could get them to turn the ball over, play faster than they wanted to play, take some quick shots with the rebounding and go into transition. I think that helped us get our energy up defensively, we got some easy baskets, some transition baskets, and from then on, I think we had the confidence in ourselves and our abilities to finish the game up.
Q: Do you notice that Alex (Bentley) wants the ball and rises to the occasion?
A: She certainly does want the ball in pressure situations. She wants to take big shots, she thrives on it and it's a great asset to have for her as a point guard. She's going to take the big shot and she doesn't care if she makes them or misses them. Next time down the court she wants it again. I thought she played with a lot of confidence and made some big shots, especially when we needed them.
Q: How much does that help your offense when someone like Maggie (Lucas) can't get it going?
A: We feel like we are a team that has a lot of weapons. If you're going to get up and play really tight on Maggie and Zhaque (Gray), that's going to open up driving lanes and scoring opportunities for Alex (Bentley). Alex is showing she's capable of putting up big points on people.
Q: Dayton pulled within two late in the game, and you had just mentioned confidence, was that the general message during the timeout or was it more about the game plan and execution?
A: A little bit of both. We knew they were going to make a run. When you have a team that can score a lot of points in a lot of ways and Patrice Lalor played a great game. She played fantastic. I thought we did a great job on (Justine) Raterman but Lalor, she really killed us, especially in the second half, to keep them in the game. We just talked about how we knew they were going to make a run. We just had to withstand that, but then our defense had to step up. We had to focus on defense and not so much on offense. We needed to let our defense cue our offense and I thought down the stretch, the last four or five minutes, we got some pretty good stops to extend our lead. It gave us a little more confidence to close out the game.
Q: What do you feel like this does for your team, in terms of confidence, to get this win?
A: I thought we started out a little jittery, but I thought we were probably too hyped to play. That's what I worry about with the team. I don't worry about whether or not we are going to rise to the occasion, but sometimes we get overly emotional and we want it so bad we play outside of ourselves and outside of our character. I think with the layoff and since the Big Ten Tournament, we needed to get a game under our belt. I'm hopeful on Monday evening, it will be business as usual and we can come out and play and execute our game plan.
Q: How did winning such a close game help you guys out?
A: I don't like winning close games. I prefer that we win by 50 every night but it doesn't happen. The NCAA Tournament is competitive. If you were watching the men's games on Thursday and Friday, you see all kinds of upsets, close games and buzzer beaters and that's the NCAA Tournament. That's what we talked to our team about. This is going to be a tough game. It's going to be a close game and on Monday its going to be even more intense. If you continue to play throughout the tournament, every round gets more and more competitive. They've never been to an NCAA Tournament so your guess is mine, we'll see on Monday.
Q: Julia Trogele, your only senior, she didn't fill up the stat sheet with points and rebounds, but her hustle during the game made a difference. Can you talk about that a little bit?
A: She has a calming influence on our team, on both ends of the floor. She's a great communicator, she knows what she's doing and she communicates and gets other people where they are supposed to be. So even if she's not filling out the stat sheet, she's probably doing things that are helping us get in the right position to make the plays offensively or defensively that we need to make. That's her experience and her leadership having been out there. She's invaluable and we need her on the floor. In the first half when she was not on the floor, it was pretty good because she got to rest, but we need her on the floor.
#20 Alex Bentley, So., Guard
Q: Alex, did you feel that you had a stronger workload offensively with the way they kept denying Maggie (Lucas) the ball?
A: I wouldn't say that I was pushing for it, but I took what they gave me. They gave me a lot of open looks so I just took those shots.
Q: Alex, what was different in the second half offensively for you guys?
A: We were up, Coach (Washington) was telling us that the game was in our control and we just had to run our offense through, all the way through a lot more, and make sure that we were taking good shots.
Q: You guys had your first tournament at home. How important was it to feed off the fans throughout the game?
A: It was great to play at home, our fans are really supportive and they were loud today, and that's what we need. It was a great experience.
Q: How much did you guys think the defense pressure you guys put on Dayton helped?
A: It helped a lot. We knew that this game was going to come down to defense because we are both really good offensive teams. We knew the team that played the better defense was probably going to win.
#24 Mia Nickson, Jr., Forward
Q: Mia, can you talk about that 10-2 run you guys had early in the game?
A: We just wanted to push the ball, it was a good fast pace tempo that we like to play at. We just toned down our defense and held them to some points and we were able to get up.
Q: It seemed that at the first half there were a lot of bodies on the floor. Were you surprised at how physical the game got?
A: I don't think it was a surprise. It was a physical game. They are a physical team and so are we. We just played through it.
#20 Alex Bentley, So., Guard
Q: What are you feeling right now?
A: It feels great to get the win and to know that we will be playing again on our home court. It feels so good. It's good for the program to be back in the NCAA's and get this first win at home.
Q: How much of an impact do the crowd and the atmosphere have on you guys?
A: They get us going. They pump us up. They make us want to win, not just for ourselves but for everyone supporting us.
Q: Penn State got off to a slow start, what adjustments were made to contribute to the teams win?
A: I just knew that we needed to get stops. We got into a press and Renee Womack did an unbelievable job defensively and gave us a great spark off of the bench. We turned the game around by forcing turnovers in our press.
Q: Being a sophomore, what impact does this win have on your career?
A: It has a huge effect. I came to this school to try to help rebuild this program. I think that we are on the right track to do that.
Q: When time is winding down, the team seems to always put the ball in your hands what's going through your mind when there's limited time on the clock?
A: I want to make something happen. I want to get the best shot that we possibly can, whether it's me taking the shots or dishing it to a teammate.
Q: The game got really close tonight, what adjustments were made?
A: We just wanted to go together. Dayton did try to make a run but we just knew that if we got defensive stops, everything would go our way. Our focus was just being defensive minded and offensively, taking good shots.
#15 Renee Womack, So., Guard
Q: What was your role in today's win?
A: I concentrate on defense and rebounds and being that spark off of the bench for the team.
Q: What does this win mean to you personally?
A: It's a good win. I think that it is a statement win. We're saying that we are not just settling for being in the tournament. We want to go further.
Q: What adjustments were made as a team when the game got close?
A: We knew that we had to come together and stay together to pull out the win. We had to concentrate on defense and contest shots.
#11 Julia Trogele, Sr., Guard/Forward
Q: Being a senior, and pulling out this win on your home court, what does that mean to you?
A: This win is huge to me. Last year we were in the NIT and we lost. We all remember what that felt like and we didn't want to feel that again. We all just came together and pulled it out.
Q: This game got really close. The turnout could have gone either way. What was key in maintaining the lead when the game got close?
A: We pulled together and kept our composure. That was the biggest thing. We executed our offense and got stops on defense. In the end, we made our free throws and extended our lead. We took care of business.
Q: What do you guys need to do next to prepare for the Navy or DePaul?
A: It's just like any other game. We look forward to scouting them. We need to take care of our bodies and our minds and come back ready to play. Monday is a huge game. We have the advantage of being able to play them on our home court and the crowd has been really supportive. I'm really looking forward to it.
Q: What impact do the crowd and the atmosphere have on you and the team?
A: They pump us up. They let the ref's know when they do not like a call. They cheer us on and encourage us. That's something that we really appreciate.