HEAD COACH GARY BLAIR
This was the best Sweet 16 game played so far in the tournament. You saw two teams that were very balanced. Going into the game, I think there were nine teams that could legitimately challenge for the national title and not be dubbed “Cinderella” teams. We were one of those nine.
When I start thinking about this team and how hard we have worked all year, it was a lot harder than last year because we took a longer time to develop chemistry. You saw a glimpse of how good we could be when we took that 18-point lead. We were executing, getting out in transition and forcing turnovers.
This team has been very special and I have enjoyed coaching them very much. I was just trying to put band-aids on certain things that happened during the season. When you look at (Sydney Carter), she even had to guard (Alyssa Thomas) some this game.
The difference in the game was Maryland’s offensive rebounding and our turnovers at the end. (Alexia) Standish has hit threes all year and she missed that wide open one at the end. It’s hard for your freshman to stand up and do the job that others should be doing. She played her heart out and learned a lot today.
You WNBA folks out there would be sadly mistaken not to take Sydney Carter. She will practice the hardest of anyone in the league and sell tickets.
On the drop in shooting percentage in the second half
We were forcing turnovers and scoring off them in the first 12-15 minutes of the game. Then, we got in some foul trouble and I was trying to protect (Kelsey) Bone and (Adaora) Elonu. (Skylar) Collins and (Karla) Gilbert came in and did a great job for us but we lost the continuity we had with the starting lineup. We felt like we could score on Maryland but the whole key was being able to stop them. They shot 48 percent and (Laurin) Mincey played a tremendous ballgame.
On his thoughts about bringing Skylar Collins back in the second half
You saw the best out of Collins with what she was doing in the first half. We just kept playing the young ones as much as we could. This wasn’t Tyra (White’s) best game but she is always a threat. We are all about finding who that player is going to be to step up each game and Collins was it tonight. Should I have made that substitution? Probably but Tyra helped win this national title ring on my finger.
On losing two big leads in each half
I thought we were going to be able to knock Maryland out of the game when we built those big leads. We missed a lot of box outs and they made us pay for it. I thought coming back in the second half and missing the front end of the one-and-one that would have made it a 12-point game was key. We had a team on the ropes and couldn’t put them away. Remember, we scored two points in the final 7:38 of the game and didn’t score in the last three minutes.
FRESHMAN GUARD ALEXIA STANDISH
On what happened in the last 10 minutes of the game
We just had way too many turnovers and most of that was my fault as the point guard. The next few years, I will learn not to make those mistakes again. Our lack of helpside defense and turnovers really killed us today.
On Maryland’s second-half rally
Maryland really picked it up defensively as the game went on. They switched to some kind of man-zone defense and were always in help so it was a lot harder to penetrate.
SENIOR GUARD SYDNEY CARTER
On playing in this tournament as defending national champions
We knew we would get everyone’s best shot every game. We had to be on our A-game every single night because we finally had the target on our backs we were looking for. Give Coach Blair credit because he has built our program to where it is a national name. People realize they have to respect us and play really well if they want to beat us.
On what she will take from the season
I’m going to remember all of the challenges and all of the successes we experienced this season. I finally had a leadership role and was able to guide the young players coming up. Like coach said, it was a hard year but we had more highlights than struggles for sure. I am really going miss this coaching staff and I will miss my teammates just as much.
JUNIOR CENTER KELSEY BONE
On Maryland’s offensive rebounding
You are not used to boxing out teams at every position and that is exactly what Maryland does every game. When you look at Lauren Mincey, she had 12 rebounds tonight. It is not just Maryland’s post players that go to the glass, but it’s all of them.
On taking an increased leadership role going forward
Alexia and I are the leaders now. We graduate five phenomenal seniors that have been our leaders all year. Now, it’s the two of us who have the in-game experience and have been through the ups and downs. We have six freshmen coming in and we have to lead them. I think it’s important that we develop chemistry from the start of the season instead of just in January and February.
Texas A&M Locker Room Quotes
Obviously it was a very tough game, physical. The refs let us play. It was a good game.
These games are the toughest to deal with, because you had them and you let them go. It is just something you should learn from.
Leadership. Leading a team, being the one to step up. Being able to compete.
Towards the end of the game they were able to complete more than us. They got on the boards obviously that’s where they killed us at.
Are they the best rebounding team you have seen this season?
It was a hard fought battle between both teams. Both teams did well. At the last couple of minutes we didn’t get a chance to score like we did at the beginning of the game. Maryland did a good job of coming out and attacking us.
They did a good job of attacking the boards. Yes they are [the best rebounding team we have seen]. They are very good at the 3, 4, 5. That is the biggest we’ve seen coming into the tournament and they did a good job at just rebounding.
Toughest type of game to take in?
Yeah it is. We wanted to get back to the final four, something this program hasn’t ever done. So to come up short is kind of disappointing.
Coach Vic Schaefer
I am really proud of our kids. They battled all day, competed. I thought we showed the country what we are made of. I don’t think we lost the toughness battle. I think they made a few more plays than we did. We just ran out of time. We made plays. We just couldn’t quite make enough down the stretch. I can’t be more proud of my team.
Transition was a problem all night. It seemed like every shot we missed of if we had a turnover it was away from the rim. Getting back became an issue. We knew, we’ve been working on it for two or three weeks now on transition defense. We played a few kids a lot of minutes all year long. I thought tonight, we tried to hang in there and hang on down the stretch. We went to the match up with about 3 minutes to go and held them twice without a basket. They are good offensively.
Maryland is going to try to outscore you. We knew that and they are really good. They have so many weapons. It seemed like every time we left one shooter uncovered, she made the shot. I thought we did an adequate job on 25 in the second half. We tested her, she got nothing free. But they continually come at you on the boards. That’s what they do, it’s how they do it.
It didn’t matter if we were down 2 or whatever, we were going to fight. Play tough and play hard and never give up.
I think it is proven we are on the right track. This program is going nowhere but up. There is a lot in the future with the freshman coming in. They are going deep every year from here on out.
I don’t think a lot of people thought we would make it this far. For us it was really about proving people wrong. Nobody expected us to win but us. We didn’t lay down we never quite. We just came up short. At the end of the day, Maryland is a great team. They have a great group of seniors playing over there as well. I wish them success.
It is very sad but at the same time I know that I have a good group of girls behind me the entire year. I know that each and every one of these girls are going to be successful and I know that next year isn’t going to stop. They are going to continue to win and get that chemistry that they are looking for and find that leadership that they need to continue to be successful.
Trust each other at all times. Never doubt your leadership and coaching staff because they built this program to be nationally named and they know what they are doing. As long as you trust your teammates and play together at all times, you will continue to be successful.
About Karla and Lexi
I think they are going to be big. My advice to them is to keep getting better. You can never learn too much. And there is something you can do to work on your game and better yourself and to make everybody else around you better. Trust each other. I think that those two will come into their roles and they will be big for this program.
HEAD COACH BRENDA FRESE
“This one was obviously extremely special and filled with a lot of Maryland magic. For our team, we have had so many games that we have been battle tested like today, but obviously not on a stage like this in the NCAA tournament. When you battle teams in the conference and have to come from behind like when we were down by 20 to Georgia Tech, this team knows and has the confidence that we can come back against anyone. I thought we were just resilient in terms of our tenacity against a really talented Texas A&M team. I’m extremely happy and proud for our fans who came down to be a part of this and support us. I have the most upmost respect for (Texas A&M) Coach Blair and what he has accomplished. I have been in the same situation with our team of being the defending national champions, and it’s a difficult role the next season. I give credit to both teams. It wasn’t a pretty game for our end but we were able to withstand the waves of pressure and find a way to keep our composure for 40 minutes.
What was your thinking when changing defenses during the 11 point comeback in the second half?
We changed to a 2-3 zone and went small with four guards in there with Kim Rodgers. The turning point was when Tianna went down but Kim is one of our best defensive players and I just felt like the four guards were giving them problems at the time.
Can you address the play of Lauren Mincy?
We have so many special players in this locker room and Lauren is no exception. She faced so many challenges last year coming back from the ACL injury and she continued to stay the course and fight on. You look at her in this postseason and in the ACC and NCAA tournament where the pressure is most and she has stepped up and been huge for this team.
How is Tianna feeling after her injury?
Tianna is fine. I think she could have gone back into the game. She had ice on her hip and back, but I felt like the flow that we were in with the lineup we had was working so we didn’t want to change it.
Does this team strive on adversity like making two comebacks in the first and second half?
I thought we were going to be in good position coming back after halftime. This team spends a lot of time feeling the flow of the game and they can get a sense of how flows were going. Second half was difficult going down 11 with it being closer to the end and more pressure. I think we showed resiliency, composure, confidence, and will to win.
Can you give us your thoughts on Alyssa Thomas today?
I think the great thing with her is that she is so versatile so we can look for matchups with her. You saw her times at the point where we ran on ball screens for her to get to the rim. Late game we had her at the four spot, so the fact that she is so versatile she can make a difference in a variety of ways.
You had as many defensive rebounds as their team had offensive rebounds, have you ever had a rebounding game like this?
Actually this was my highest defensive rebounding game. We knew that getting on the boards was going to win us the game. We were just focused on getting on the boards.
(With the comeback), what kind of resilience does this team have and what was going on during the timeouts that was inspiring you?
We are just 12 strong, coach told us to keep fighting. Our senior, Lynetta (Kizer), I know she personally told us to keep playing, keep playing hard. We all believed in it.
As a senior, what was the mindset when you were down 18?
I think when we were down 18, what was playing in my mind was I didn't want this to be my last game. That is honestly all I could keep thinking. They kept telling us to board, and they kept telling us to defend. Anything that I personally needed to do to help this team to take a step forward was what I was trying to do. I wanted us to finish this game strong, together.
When Tianna (Hawkins) went out, what was the mindset for what you had to do?
That was definitely a big loss for us, especially that much time left on the clock. One person went down, so we knew we would have to step up together. We just had to go out there and play that much harder. We know Tianna, if she could of been out there, she would of done it. We just wanted to step up and play that much harder, especially with her going down.
What is it about this team that makes you guys able to come back time and time again?
It doesn't matter how much we are down, we are going to give it our all for 40 minutes no matter what the score is.
Brene Moseley- (When they were down by 18)- “I’m just thinking a little spark will get us back into it. At that point, we were all just looking for the little sparks and once we did that we just kept rolling and rolling and adding onto that.
(On character of team coming back from behind- “ I think it speaks on how much we want it and how much we’re willing to fight. We never gave up on each other, and even when we did, we got back and recuperated, and we did it.
Kim Rodgers- (On being down 18)- “I was thinking we just can’t quit. We’ve been down 20 before in the second half, so we had so much time left in the first half, so I wasn’t too concerned, but I knew we had to make a push before half time.
(Working on rebounds all week & her rebounding today)- “That’s our bread and butter to get rebounds, especially on the offensive end and be able to put them back up for second chances, and I think we did a really good job of that today.
(On team chemistry) “We’re willing to fight for each other. We’re 12 strong, and we have each other’s backs. We don’t want to send anyone out on a bad note. I think we’re all fighting for each other right now, and that’s keeping us alive.
Alicia DeVaughn- (On what started the comeback)- “We came out for the second half, and everybody just clicked. We heard a couple players say ‘Believe’ and we all know that we’re a tough team. When we believe and play together, it’s a good thing, and that’s what happened.”
Tianna Hawkins- (On being one game from Denver)- “We’ve got to take one game at a time, and we’ll be there. If we go out and play our game next game, we’ll be fine.