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March 23, 2014
2014 NCAA Division I women's basketball championship
First Round · News Conference Day
Bryce Jordan Center · University Park, Pa.
Sunday, March 23
NEWS CONFERENCE QUOTES - Penn State
Coquese Washington, Penn State Head Coach:
Q: Coach, what did you think of Talia's [East] effort in this game?
A: I thought it was huge. She really established her presence, in particular in the second half. She really made a difference by getting some `bigs' and `ones.' Those plays were really big for us.
Q: In the closing minutes of the game, were you targeting the inside; did you tell them during the time outs to get inside and get the ball to Talia?
A: Yes we did. Especially during the second half we really wanted to get the ball inside. They were playing the box and went on Maggie [Lucas]. I thought they did a really good job of keeping the ball out of the post, while spying Maggie and double-teaming Talia. She split the double team a couple of times. She made some big plays and some big baskets. I think that gave the entire team confidence.
Q: In the first half defensively, it seemed like you guys were on your toes a lot. What adjustments in the second half did you make to thwart Wichita State?
A: I actually thought in the first half we were not aggressive enough defensively. We were not on the ball as intensely as we wanted to be. I think in the second half, especially at the start of the second half, we were a lot more aggressive. We were a lot more active on the ball. I think when we play that way and play aggressively like that our help rotation was moving a lot quicker. When we play like that, we usually do a good job of contesting shots and making people take tough shots. It allowed us to get out and transition.
Q: In the locker room some of the players stressed how much tougher the games get when you play NCAA teams. Is there something to be said about playing such a tight game and have to continuously fight in the first round as opposed to some of the first round games that have been more lopsided?
A: When the bracket came out and I saw that we were playing Wichita State. I thought that is going to be a tough first round game. They are a really good team. We did not have any misconceptions coming into this game about the type of team they were and what they could do. We talked all week about how tough this game is probably going to be because of the team they have, the players they have and the challenges they present to us. They also have outstanding coaching. Our focus all along has been that the NCAA Tournament is tough. The games are tough and every round gets tougher. You have to be ready for battles. You have to be prepared. Seeding does not matter. Where you play does not matter. You just have to understand that it is going to be tough. That is the mentality that we have. We are expecting another tough game on Tuesday.
Q: Coach, Talia saw a lot of playing time. What did you see in her that made you keep her in?
A: I thought she was a better match up with their four-guard lineup. She was doing a good job of rebounding. She did a good job defensively and doing the ball-strength defense that we wanted to play. I just felt like she was in a good rhythm. The team was playing well with her on the floor, so I just stuck with it.
Q: Coach, having been in the tournament many times, how does being back at home affect your approach in the huddle? Did you talk to them any different because you were at home and you knew that had over a thousand people behind them?
A: No, it is not any different. It is great having the crowd. You have to do things positively for the crowd to really get into the game. It is up to us on the floor to make those plays and to give them something to cheer about. We do not say to ourselves "alright we are down, but we are at home." We want to play our basketball and give our fans something to cheer about.
Q: Ariel [Edwards] said that at half time you called her out. Did you see her as the matchup that could be the problem for them?
A: I think that Ariel is aggressive. When she is aggressive offensively, it makes things easier, especially our offensive-flow. Things just go smoother for us. In the first half she was not as aggressive as I wanted her to be. I challenged her to be more aggressive and to attack more. She responded
Q: Coquese, with players like Talia and Maggie playing so well for you and having a lot of experience and being down in the first half, do you think that they are used to this and it does not faze them?
A: They play with poise. One of the things I thought they did in the first half was playing with poise and playing with confidence. As Maggie said, we do some of those situations in practice where we are down and we have to fight to come back. I was confident that they would make the necessary plays to put us back in the position where we could get the win. They did that on the defensive end, and it allowed us to come away with the win today.
Q: It is easy to take players like Maggie Lucas for granted. Was she a constant today? She had a few spark moments. Can you talk about her role as a constant throughout the game?
A: The thing about Maggie is that as long as she is on the court she is threat. The defense has to be aware of her. So that allows other players to make plays. It is just a matter of players like Ariel and Talia being aggressive. They have to really attack offensively, but what I liked about Maggie today is that she did some other things. She got some steals. She got nine rebounds. She impacted the game in ways beyond her scoring. When she did score some points you know they were some big points. They were momentum-changing baskets. She was a constant in all phases of the game today.
Q: How well do you think you used your size against Wichita today?
A: I think it definitely was a factor on our boards. We were able to get in there and get some second-chance opportunities. We got some defensive rebounds down the stretch when they were coming back. It definitely helped us at key moments in the game.
Ariel Edwards, #23 G/Forward
Q: Ariel, at the end of the game, Talia had a couple of big buckets to seal it for you guys. Did you know that you could go there and have that advantage inside and what was that like?
A: Talia played a great game today. We are all really proud of her. It's great to know that you can throw it in and get a good result out of throwing the ball to the post. That helped us out a great deal.
Q: Was there something that Coquese [Washington] said at halftime, a specific phrase or a specific word that propelled you guys on defense in the second half?
A: She kept telling us to be the aggressors, to be aggressive. That's what we tried to do coming out the first half is to dictate the pace of the game and dictate the way the game would be played.
Q: Going on that 17-0 run to start the second half, what did that do for your guys' confidence?
A: I would say that it helped a great deal. We knew that if we played defense that we would put ourselves in a good position and I felt like that's what we did. We also knew that they wouldn't go away. They are a great team, as Maggie said, and they battled with us the whole second half.
Talia East, #5 F/Center
Q: Talia, what allowed you to have such a dominant game on the glass and also have thirteen points?
A: I think I have to give all the credit to my teammates and coaches. Co [Coach Washington] at halftime was harping to us to throw it inside. I think Maggie [Lucas] , Ariel [Edwards], and Dara [Taylor] did a great job of that, just finding me for easy looks. That was awesome.
Q: Talia, was there something that you guys saw before this game that you picked out that you knew you had going into the game maybe that you had as an advantage?
A: Well, we knew we were a taller team so there was a focus on; you should throw it inside, go strong and be prepared for a double team.
Q: In the second half, you guys started pulling doing more boards. What started going right?
A: I think it has a lot to do with defense. We had help-side so that's going to alter people's shots and create more rebounds so, that definitely helped towards the end to score points.
Maggie Lucas, #33 Guard
Q: What adjustments did you make at the half that led to a 10-0 nothing to start the second half?
A: We talked a lot about of defense. Once we are able to get out and transition that's to our strength and I think T [Talia East] did a great job cleaning out the boards. So, I think that was big for us, just getting out there and transitioning.
Q: Maggie, you had those pair of threes in the first half. Is that when you felt like things were turning for you?
A: Yeah, you just know you kind of have to play through. You're going to miss shots here and there you just have to keep playing. Like T [Talia East] said, my teammates were there for me the whole time. They kept telling me to keep shooting and play through it and I was able to do that.
Q: You said earlier about winning the transition battle in the second half. Defensively, what adjustments, specifically, were made to win that transition battle?
A: I think we had really good ear-to-chest denials to start the second half. When we get out and deny hard, we can get some deflections and get out and transition. Like Talia [East] and Ariel [Edwards] said, our help-side was strong so, get some rebounds, just get it, and push it off the floor. That was a main...that was a big focus for us.
Q: Maggie, down eleven on your home court early in the game. What allowed you to stay calm?
A: We work on situations like that; being down and staying calm. I think we handled that pretty well and we looked to each other and played together and kept trying to stick to our game plan from the beginning. We figured things would start to go our way.
Q: Maggie, was there a point in the second half where you thought you had this thing won?
A: No, they kept fighting back. They're a very, very good team. We have a lot of respect for them. They did just keep fighting back so we know that we had to keep that on and be ready for this to come down to the wire.
Q: How different was it being down and having your home crowd around you to facilitate getting back in the game?
A: That's huge. We really look to our fans and they were awesome today. They were into it the whole game and we feed off of them. Next game, we are going to need the same thing, just a lot of energy. It's like having a sixth man out there.
LOCKER ROOM QUOTES
Tori Waldner, #44 Forward
Q: Can you describe the atmosphere in the arena today and how it benefitted the team to play a tournament game at home?
A: When we got the bid to play at home, we were really excited. Having home court advantage, knowing that all of your fans are going to be around you, is very exciting. Home court advantage means sleeping in our own beds, not traveling, being able to stay in the same place, and those are all great things as well.
Q: Can you describe how your team's size advantage helped out in the second half?
A: We owe all that credit to Talia [East] because she really just came out and was a beast in the second half. She had a size advantage on Wichita State and she really used that to help her down low and help the whole team out.
Q: What is your thought process now looking at the Dayton vs. Florida game...do you find yourselves rooting for one team or the other?
A: Coach hasn't even let us think about other teams to this point. It was all about this game, because it wasn't a guarantee that we would win- and as you saw, it was a close game. We have to keep focus on what we need to do to win so honestly we haven't even thought about it yet. We aren't rooting for anybody
Dara Taylor, #2 Guard
Q: What was said in the locker room at half time that prompted your team to have such a successful second half?
A: Just to pick our energy up, pick our defense up. They had a couple wide open looks in the first half that really gave them the chance to hit some open shots. We just kind of wanted to rev it up defensively- get after it, get up and deny and I think it worked to our advantage. Just to focus on the game plan, we kind of got away from it. We were a little jittery in the first half and everybody calmed down and started to play their game.
Q: How about the last couple of minutes of the game and the loose ball that got reviewed, what went on there?
A: I think that was a big play for us, we got possession again and then at the end of the game we went to T (Talia East). Down the stretch she finished great in the paint. She really had a size advantage and she took advantage of that at the end of the game.
Q: How did the team use its size advantage in the game?
A: You know we could have done a better job of using it. Obviously we were much bigger in the paint, but I think when it counted down the stretch we got some easy buckets and some rebounds and we used it to our advantage.
Q: Can you describe the energy in the arena and what it was like to play a tournament game at home?
A: It was great and we had an amazing crowd today. You know when we made that little run to start the second half, the crowd was amazing. It was the loudest I've heard it in a while. That's great to have that. We need a little bit of energy, a little push. To have that behind you was a great thing for us.
Maggie Lucas, #33 Guard
Q: What approach did you take as a team heading into this game?
A: You go into every game thinking that you are going to win and I wasn't going into today thinking it was going to be my last game by any means. You know we have another big game coming up and we focused 100 percent on Wichita State. We didn't look forward at all and we knew we had to win one game to move on. That was our number one focus was Wichita State, because they are a great team as you saw out there.
Q: What kind of things did Coach talk about at halftime for you guys to come out in the second half like that?
A: Just sticking together. We usually play better as the game goes on so we kind of relied on that. We knew that we were a little jittery early on, you know... we haven't played in a little bit. Like I said, we play better as the game goes on.
Q: How important is it for you guys to play off your emotion because you seem to play better when you are fired up out there?
A: It is very important. When we are playing together and fired up we make big plays. It is also important for us when things aren't going our way that we stick together and keep fighting.
Q: How were the fans today and how did that help out the team?
A: Oh they were awesome, they were unbelievable the whole time and they were really into it. Any time we scored or any time we got a stop, they were screaming and we were feeding off that so it was big for us. I've always fed off this crowd and they're the best. I use them as a reserve energy tank and I go to them when I need to get myself going. Our fans are loyal and they are always there for me.