COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) - Kristi Bellock tied a career high with 18 points and No. 3 Texas A&M routed Wichita State 71-45 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
Playing in front of a hometown crowd, the Aggies used a big run at the end of the first half to erase a one-point deficit and take a 13-point lead into halftime. A 12-2 spurt early in the second half extended the lead to 52-29, and Texas A&M cruised to the victory.
Texas A&M (25-9), which won the national championship in 2011, is in the tournament for the eighth consecutive season. It was the first trip for Wichita State (24-10).
Michelle Price scored 12 points for Wichita State.
POSTGAME QUOTES – TEXAS A&M
Gary Blair, Head Coach
“Our crowd was tremendous. Hopefully we can have more on Monday night. I thought our team played well in spots. I thought defensively, we played solid. For the most part we did a pretty good job. We made some careless fouls. Kelsey’s got to understand to not put herself in a position to foul. If her man doesn’t touch the ball, she’s not going to get a foul. They did a good job of flopping on the middle of the court after a basket. That’s us not being aware. I thought Courtney Williams was impressive for the first half. You’re going to start seeing her in more press rooms because she’s starting to get it. Early on they were packing it in with the zone. They are mainly a man-to-man team. We had to make some adjustments on what they were going to give us and what they weren’t. Eventually, we won the game because of our boards. We didn’t turn them over. Our press was only good a couple of times. Karla Gilbert came to the rescue. She does the little things right. She’s basically a starter for us because lately Bellock and Bone have been getting into foul trouble. Bellock was there all day. She made good decisions and took good shots. Pratcher was just like an artist drawing on a canvas. She’s in a slump on her 3s. Finally she rattled home a 3 in the second half. I’m proud of the crowd. I’m proud of the effort. I’m proud of my bench for stepping in.”
On the start of the game:
“I thought they would open up in a man. The first five plays I had scripted out were for five different people. I wanted to show our balance early. As a result, they dropped into a zone and we became “jump-shot Judy’s” early. We got some transition baskets a couple of times. I think in the last five or six minutes we out-rebounded them by nine. We got the extra possessions. There are a lot of different ways you can win. It wasn’t pretty early. I didn’t like our passing. It wasn’t crisp enough against the zone. We were missing some wide-open people in the corner. I think eventually we want to get the ball to the paint and shoot that 8-foot shot.”
On Kelsey Bone’s foul trouble:
“It’s been that way all her career. She’s normally played through it pretty well. She hasn’t been in a whole lot of foul trouble for the rest of the year. In our last two games she has been. She’s got to learn what teams are going to try and do to her. She’s probably the smartest player I have on my team. She’s got to figure it out. I always take her out after that first foul to get her settled in. I want to make sure she’s not going to get that second foul. It’s not maturity. She’s mature. She’s just got to be smart. You could see what she could do in the second half. She’s hard to stop. I think from now on in there, there will be a little more size on us than what Wichita State has.”
On Adrienne Pratcher:
“Pratcher is a flow player. I wasn’t real thrilled that she took that first shot against the zone. She was open but she hasn’t been shooting well for the last five or so games. I want them to score a different way. Don’t settle early for the jump shot. Work the shot clock without getting the ball in to Bone. We have to be a little bit more patient on that. I just want Walker to flow. While Williams has been getting better and better, I’ve got to get Walker back to what she was doing. That’s a key for this basketball team because she always has to guard the other team’s best player.”
On playing without Kelsey Bone:
“We did fine without her. The best thing I do with Bone is give her a stare, sit her on the bench and keep patting Gilbert on the back. It will just work out by itself. It’s what A&M’s all about: the next man up. Those 4 points that Jones gave us gave us the 13-point lead. We’ve got to have those kinds of plays.”
On Kristi Bellock:
“She moves to the open spots and makes baskets in transition. This is like Christmas every day for her. She’s finally getting the playing time and attention. The WNBA and Europe keeps looking at her. She has a goal of finishing her career in New Orleans. There are a lot of good things happening but it’s her easy-going personality. I can get so mad at her in the game. I’ve got to get her to quit taking plays off. She’s a great midrange shooter.
Kelsey Bone, Junior, Center
On A&M’s teamwork:
“I think that’s the beauty in our team. We are just a balanced team. Now I am going to be the focus of team defenses. Even when I was on the floor and there were two to three people on me, my teammates did a great job of just getting shots. Adrienne did a great job of getting to their defense and making things happen. When you start talking about our team, you don’t just mention Kelsey Bone. You have to talk about everyone and that’s the beauty of this. I could be on a team where you could sit four people on me and it might be a long night. For this team, you have to pick your poison.”
On Wichita State:
“We knew that this was a team that was experiencing their first time playing in the NCAA tournament. We knew that a couple of their seniors were coming back home, so we knew they would come out with energy. Our goal was to withstand that and play them out. We knew that if we stayed on them for 40 minutes, we would be able to persevere. I think we did a great job of that, even with me on the bench. We were up by 13 at the half. That’s a good thing for us. We had jitters ourselves. We knew we needed to control the game to win.”
On her personal fouls:
“I was definitely disappointed in myself. I have to understand that teams are going to have game plans against me and I help them by picking up silly fouls. Regardless of how I feel about those calls, I have to play through them. It was good to get this first game out of the way. I can rebound and learn from that and not have to put myself in that situation again. It does give me a great sense of security to know that if something were to happen, there is always somebody waiting in the wings to step up and that’s just a testament to what our coaches have prepared us for.”
Kristi Bellock, Senior, Forward
On her personal performance:
“I just want to go out there and play hard. That has been my main goal for this whole season and for the rest of our games here. This is my last year and I just want to go out knowing that I gave everything I had. I don’t want to hold anything back. I have to thank Kelsey because she brings a lot of attention which makes my life a lot easier because they don’t guard me. I have a lot of open shots and there is no one there to knock them down. So I just want to thank Kelsey for all of my success this season. When Kelsey was on the bench, it was just playing hard and not giving up. It was knowing that when she is gone, someone else has the floor and someone else has to do all of the dirty work. I am just the next person in line and I am happy that today was a good game for me.”
On the steal-layup play with Jordan Jones:
“I know Jordan has a lot of energy. I saw her getting after her defender and tip the ball. I knew she was going to get a layup. I ran the court and got an easy layup. It is fun playing with Jordan and Pratcher because they both have great initiative, a lot of excitement and a lot of energy.”
On the crowd:
“I felt the 12th Man throughout the whole game. It was an amazing crowd. I hope they come out to Monday’s game as well.”
Adrienne Pratcher, Senior, Guard
On her personal performance:
“Before the game, Coach Blair told us they were either going to pack it in the zone or play man-to-man, but they were going to focus on Kelsey Bone. I think early in the game we were not able to hit our shots due to their zone. Later on in the game, though, I was able to dissect the zone, get into the middle of it and make good passes, and we were able to knock down shots. In the second half, we just executed better because we knew what we were up against and we were able to keep the lead.”
LOCKER ROOM QUOTES – TEXAS A&M
Karla Gilbert, Junior, Center
On A&M’s rebounding success:
“I think it was hard work across the board. We always emphasize on blocking out, so not only were they smaller than us, we did a good job executing the blockouts.”
On Courtney Williams’ progression this season:
“She’s progressed a lot. She’s more aware, smarter about basketball plays. You could see a couple times in the game, instead of staying out there for the 3-point shot, she realized, “Hey, I can go in and get that layup.” So it’s more basketball awareness than just making nice plays.”
Courtney Williams, Freshman, Forward/Guard
On scoring 9 of A&M’s first 19 points:
“They left me open on the side. I felt comfortable to knock the shots down. When they closed out, they left the baseline open, so I went in, took my time and made the shots.”
On her progression:
“I learned the system more. At first I was just hesitant and didn’t really know the system. I was thinking too much. After I got a spot, I just started playing my game and let the game come to me.”
On Kristi Bellock’s play:
“Bellock is one of the best 4 players in the country, to me. She’s so smooth. She can knock down that high post shot, get in there and get rebounds. She’s just a great player.”
2013 NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship
First Round · Texas A&M 71, Wichita State 45
Reed Arena · College Station, Texas
Saturday, March 23
POSTGAME QUOTES – WICHITA STATE
Jody Adams, Wichita State Head Coach:
“Well first of all, I've got to say I'm really proud of our team and what we did. The first eight minutes, it was great to see us execute what we wanted to do on both sides of the ball. When you hold a great player like Kelsey Bone to zero points in the first half, you're doing your job defensively. We struggled when we weren't scoring, and we let that affect our defensive side of the ball. This game doesn't define us. This program has been built on competing and out-working; we just ran into a very good team and an unbelievable center in Bone with a great supporting cast, which her supporting cast showed up big time tonight. We wish Gary (Blair) and his coaching staff and his team the best as they continue their run in the NCAA tournament.”
On what happened in the last 4 or 5 minutes in the first half to allow A&M to have such a big run:
“I think us not scoring really affected us defensively. You saw us come out in our 1-3-1, and we were sandwiching Bone. We were going to make other A&M players step up, which they did. Courtney (Williams) stepped up, she made some big shots. Courtney is talented with that mid-range game, there's no doubt about it, and we were going to make her show that in her first game in the NCAA's, and she did that. So then we were going back and forth. I just believe that Texas A&M began to pick it up defensively. They bodied our guards, which affected us because we had to run our offense extended on the sidelines, and they made it tough from there on. We weren't able to get our shooters off single-single's like we wanted to. Our entry passes - we were pinned up on the sideline so we were in a bad situation at that point unless you change your mind and choose to compete with them, body up with them. I just don't think we changed our mentality at that point. That's what I was saying in our huddles, that bottom line you've got to change your mentality right now. It's going to be physical. They're in fight mode, the momentum has switched to them, and the only way you’re going to get back with them is to play the game physical with them.”
On A&M's depth as a team:
“I think that's what you see in teams like this. You compare the two teams. The size in their center does not go down a 6'4" center and then all the sudden you go to a 5'10" center. We knew we were out -manned in that way, and it didn't bother us. We knew that we could stretch them. Our center got in foul trouble, which is 5'10" Michaela Dapprich, the freshman. That's a kid that can stretch the defense and shoot the ball really well. With her on the bench, that caused our offense to slow down a little bit because a lot of it runs through her. We were going to run their post, make them extend out. When they began to pressure our guards a little bit, it was hard to get the post the ball at the time we wanted to. Depth is important, and obviously keeping size in your depth is huge for you to make that run in the NCAA.”
On team's accomplishment this year:
“I think our seniors that came here when I was selling a dream, they believed in the vision I was presenting to them, what they could do here, which is win a championship. The legacy they're leaving is an unbelievable legacy. Our underclassmen played fearless out there today. I think the tone has been set. The bar has been raised high here at Wichita State. The expectations are to compete and win championships, which I was brought here to do.”
On why they weren't able to extend their lead:
“I thought it was going to be tough. We were counting on some shots to go down. We had some great looks at the rim that we just didn't finish. We had some great pick and pop action, but we didn't knock down the shot. You hate to blame it on your offense, because we're such a defensive oriented team. We normally use a press and trap defense, but we had to change that because of their interior play and how they run everything through Bone. We needed our shots to go down, and it shouldn't have dictated our defense, but you have to give credit to A&M. They picked at our zone and took the looks we were giving them. We make others beat us, and they began to do that in the first half. Again, holding Bone to zero points going into the locker room, we’ve got to credit our defense doing what they were supposed to do, but her supporting cast showed up today.”
Chynna Turner, Senior, Forward
On momentum shift at end of first half:
“Basketball is a game of momentum and we feed on our defense. A&M went on a run and we weren’t stopping them and we weren’t making shots either. We stopped crashing the boards. We stopped doing the little things that we knew coming in were going to help us get the win, and we didn’t do that in the last five minutes going into the half.”
On overall season:
“My freshman year we were at the bottom of the Valley, and now we have won the regular season and gotten to the NCAAs for the first time. We are very proud of where we’ve come. We have done something great, and we are going to walk out of here with our heads held high because this game doesn’t define us. We will come back harder next year with the new team and keep working to build this program.”
Alex Harden, Sophomore, Guard
On start of game:
“We just came up with a game plan and we knew that we had to be aggressive with them. They weren’t going to give us anything and they had the length and the speed, so we just had to take it out of them and look to where we had openings and take advantage of that.”
On Texas A&M’s play:
“I wasn’t surprised at all. They looked to go inside first, and when they got in foul trouble they look to their guards to move the ball around. Then they ran us in transition after they went small when their bigs got in trouble.”
OCKER ROOM QUOTES – WICHITA STATE
Jessica Diamond, Senior, Guard
On the difference in the last 4:30 of the first half:
“I believe they picked up their pressure defensively. We haven’t played against that a lot this year. The first few minutes of the game, we were running on them, but we kind of got forced to be in our half-court offense and we weren’t really fluent. We weren’t really stepping into our passes. We got stagnant on offense and weren’t getting ball reversals, which made it easier for them to guard. Defensively, we still had spurts where we were getting stops, we just couldn’t connect on the offensive end. The game plan for 40 minutes, to run on them, but they started hitting a lot more shots, so we couldn’t really run out like we did in the start of the game. That’s where the momentum kind of changed.”
Michelle Price, Junior, Forward
On what was working in the beginning of the first half:
“(We were) just doing our rolls on offense. Our offensive key was attacking the big girls and get the big girls in foul trouble, everyone be shot ready. On defense, rebound the ball, box out, push them back. It was working.
On the difference in the last 4:30:
“Tempo. Once the game kept going on, the tempo got slower. That’s when they started making runs. Our defense wasn’t as great as the start of the game. Our philosophy is to always keep game tempo up. Since this team was a bigger team, our game plan relied on transition.”
On her offensive success in the game:
“I had an aggressive mentality. I had a 6-5 girl on me, so I knew I could try to beat her off the dribble and that’s what I did. That’s what coaches kept telling me to do, to go to the basket, go to the basket.”
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