COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Postgame quotes following the Maryland women's basketball team's 72-52 win over Quinnipiac and Michigan State's 55-47 win over Marist, in the NCAA Tournament first round.
Brenda Frese, Maryland Head Coach Opening statement: "I know Quinnipiac has the number one hockey team in the country, but that game today kind of felt like a hockey game, the way the substitution pattern, the physicality. Very aggressive game. I thought that Quinnipiac came out just really aggressive, confident, shooting the basketball. I thought we looked like we hadn't played in about two weeks. Rusty a little bit from the tip, but once we were able to get our rebounding and transition, really started clicking, specifically coming back out in the second half, I really thought that was the difference."
On what she told the team when Maryland fell behind early: "I actually had a sidebar with our staff, first of just let's stay confident and be calm. I knew that they came in really aggressive and amped up and were making shots. I just said it's going to be a long game and tried to instill the confidence in our team that timeout we had so they could see we were going to be fine."
On if Quinnipiac hadn't seen a duo as physical as Alyssa Thomas and Tianna Hawkins: "I think we were able to wear them down. You could see that in the second half. We still wanted to continue to push tempo; obviously we were disappointed with our rebounding at halftime. We were tied. Credit them, they matched us still on the offensive glass and they were physical. I thought they gave us their best punch in the first half. But I do think our size, our physicality, our length, athleticism, Alyssa Thomas gives you about three extra bodies out there in terms of her play. I do think we were able to wear them down."
On Quinnipiac's substitution pattern of bringing in five new players at a time: We haven't seen that style all season so it really made us have to communicate matchups at times. I thought they came in early and had fresher legs; you could see we needed to get our legs kind of within us in terms of our play and getting back to the level you need to play at for a 40-minute game. The style I thought was very effective in the first half."
On dominating the paint but needing to improve the 3-point shooting in the next round: "I definitely think we can improve from the perimeter, but also if something is working for us we're going to continue to go to it and that has been our strength, being able to go inside and crash the glass. But no question, if you want to continue to advance you have to be able to shoot the ball better. I know we will come out and be ready to shoot the ball with confidence."
On how special this season is given everything the team has been through: "This team means even more to me, no question. In terms of the adversity they've gone through and never used it as an excuse, they continue to just give you everything the possibly have and play for each other and with tremendous Maryland pride. It is special to see them advance and for good things to be able to happen to them."
On what it's like to have a "life vest" in a player like Alyssa Thomas: "You look like a pretty smart coach. You just give her the ball and let her go to work. But she is like a life vest, can bail out anyone and anything. Obviously you saw her versatility, we put her at the point, let her go to work. I thought she was able to change the game. They didn't have an answer; they throw two people at her and then she's able to create easy scoring opportunities for other teammates. Obviously she's a dream come true to coach. You just appreciate as a junior what she's meant to this team and this program and how quickly her career is going by."
On the start of the game: "We just kind of came out slow, and we weren't really getting out in transition or just doing what we did. Coach Frese taught us just defend, rebound, and work, and once we started doing that we just started to chip away slowly by slowly."
On the difference defensively in the second half: "Not letting them get open threes. In the first half, we just let them get open looks and they were hitting. We came out and just really pressured them after that."
On how they matched up with Quinnipiac: "I don't think they've seen a team like us; a team which looks to rebound early. I think they found it very hard to matchup with all of us out there on the court."
On hitting on the threes that sparked the comeback: "It felt great. Prior to that moment Coach Frese had challenged me on the bench, she wanted me to go on the boards. I think pretty much right before that play I got a couple of key rebounds and it gave me the confidence to hit that three."
On the rebounding in the second half: "In the first half we really should have outrebounded them. Our defense was there, it was great, but our rebounding was a little short, and everybody was talking in the huddle about how we need to get back to what we're doing is rebounding; and we all know that we can rebound it, we just knew we wanted the ball so as soon it went up we just had to go and get it."
Tricia Fabbri, Quinnipiac Head Coach:
Opening Statement: "I was very proud of how are team represented Quinnipiac University today. We played great. We played gritty. There was a little bit of a lid on the bucket in the second half. We could not get any back-to-back buckets to gain some momentum, but these ladies did the university and the program really, really well today in representing us and how we competed against a great team in Maryland."
On the 1-11 shooting to end the first half: "How we started the game is how we wanted to. We certainly believed that we could come in here and play a very good brand of basketball and give ourselves a chance to win it. First ten minutes you saw us making shots. The 1-11, I think that Maryland really amped it up and their pressure on the ball, their length, them being on the line and them really stepping up and challenging us. Everything was contested. They made a nice adjustment to get after us much like we got after them to forge that lead."
On subbing five players in for five players at a time: "We do, do five in and five out. It even has its own name, Gold Rush. That is they style we wanted. Even going in, having gone 1-11, being down four at halftime at Maryland, we felt really good. We felt really good about what was going to happen in the second half. It was anybody's game still at that point. We had given up the lead, but we felt our Gold Rush, our numbers, would allow us to keep pressure on them. I am not sure what point it was, but Maryland was still at 50 with a couple minutes left in the game. This is a hostile team that runs teams off the floor. We were still able be gritty and dig in on defense. I know we talked about the disparity in rebounding, but we were nose-to-nose with them, 16 to 16 on offensive rebounds. The disparity was our so many missed shots on the rebounding end. The one number you are looking at, we turned Maryland over 25 times. The number you are looking at is our field goal percentage offense. It was seeing a different, taller player that we are unaccustomed to on a day in and day out basis that really made a difference. Plus, they turned up the defense. They had to make a change because it was not going their way to start. It was frustrating to see that we could not get back to back possessions to get a little momentum going offensively. Sorry to veer off the question, but we do play like that. We do have depth."
On trying to keep the nine point lead in first half: "We had already said `keep going forward,' and keep doing what we are doing. We are up nine, the team has competed all year long against really good teams, but Maryland is just a top-10 team. I spoke about in the press conference seeing a really good James Madison team on the road and St. Johns at home, but this (Maryland) is clearly a top-10 team that was on a different level that we had not seen. This is the stage we were ready for and I think we handled ourselves with tremendous aplomb and competed on a very big stage against a very good club in Maryland."
On Felicia Barron and Jasmine Martin's tough shooting night: "We have had nights, where they have not shot well. The difference was their length on the perimeter, challenging the shots, and how quick they are to the ball. That speeding us up hurt our accuracy from the perimeter with everyone."
On this what made this team special: "The young ladies and the coaching staff that we have here in the program made it special. The belief that we had ending last year in a tough semifinal loss made it special. We never took the eyes off the prize and we still carried that pain we had from last season and moved forward with it this season. It is so special because we played everybody. We have a talented team with depth. Everyone was able to contribute. I think this year's team was an example of being a team and playing as a team. We played everybody and did not lean on three or four kids. Yes, we do have superstars that have led us to a lot of wins, but the beauty of the team and this team being so special was the fact that one through eleven played tonight."
Brittany McQuain (Quinnipiac Forward) On if were they a little too tall in the end: "Yeah we talked about that a little bit in the locker room, they are a lot longer than we are for sure. Our assistant coach pointed out, if we had played against those bodies all year long we definitely would have been a little bit more prepared. I couldn't be more proud of my team though handling the challenge we just faced."
On what playing against Tianna Hawkins and Alyssa Thomas was like, and what adjustments you made to face them: "They are great players. Thomas is outstanding, she is very comfortable with the ball and I commend her and she is going to do great things I am sure. Being on the floor with talent like that, it's humbling. We did extremely well in the NEC not loosing a game and then coming here against a really good ACC team opened our eyes a little bit. We can do this again, and I have no doubt in my mind and I think that being on a floor with them it's surreal, but I know we can do this again."
Gillian Abshire (Quinnipiac Guard) On when you are up 21-12 what's going through your mind: "I think we were all pretty excited, I don't think we expected to have that type of a lead so quickly in the beginning of the game. They hit two, three's and came back in the game and it was tough trying to push the lead from there. What was going through our heads was we just wanted to keep pushing it."
On what changed in the second half in terms of the offense for you: "I think our shots weren't falling. The first shot of the half was a pretty easy bunny but it just missed off the rim, and that set the tone for the rest of the half. We couldn't put the ball in the bucket. We had to fight for every shot that we got, so I think that was the toughest thing. They also kept getting transition easy scores."
On how do you try and come back from the frustration you had in the second half: "I think it was the shots not failing, and we didn't get a few calls that we had hoped we would get, we were frustrated with those two things. We tried to overcome it by scoring and we shot the ball but it just wouldn't go in."
Suzy Merchant, Michigan State Head Coach
“I think for everyone in the field, when you see your name come up and Marist come up after it you think that you pulled the unlucky number because they are a very good team. The stuff they run is extremely hard to guard. You also know their history because of how well-coached they are, and the style that they play really makes it difficult to get victories. I am really proud of our group because we had to adjust some things and play less of our bigs and less of our guards, do a little bit less face-up on the defensive side. I was really proud of our team and think that it was our defense that allowed us to win the game today.”
On Annalise Pickrel:
“We knew that we were going to have to play her and get some more offense out of her, mainly because she is capable. We can play her and have played her at multiple positions this year. The way that they run their offense we knew that we would probably be down a man in the guard rotation because we would use Annalise at the four more this game. To her credit we have a handful of things that we run with her at the four and she was able to get open. She mentioned it but I think our team did a good job of reversing the basketball and working it inside and out and making the extra pass where she had a direct look at it.”
On Klarissa Bell struggling to score:
“We would love for her to give us more offense but she was also guarding one of their better shooters [Leanne Ockenden], who can really stroke it, and she limited her to six points. She also did a really good job rebounding. She did a really good job of doing some other things for us. She took care of the ball and had a couple of steals. She had a couple monumental rebounds that kept it in our favor down the stretch. I’m not too worried about it. Someone else stepped up this time. It would be nice to get her going. I know she wants it and is going to work hard at it and defend. I can live a little bit on the offensive end if it isn’t going for you as long as you defend. That’s where it matters the most.”
On Marist’s second half run:
“I wasn’t frustrated because I think their style is hard to play against. I never got too uptight about our offense or defense. The only time I was disappointed was when they went on that run. I called a timeout and it wasn’t more flairs that we weren’t getting over, we just had our hands down. They hit three threes with our hands down. It was an easy fix I thought in the timeout, a little bit more ball pressure. I don’t know how much of a chess match you can do against their team because they are going to do what they are going to do.”
Jasmine Thomas, Michigan State Guard
On Marist’s second half run:
“We definitely were expecting it. They are a good team and can get it going. We just had to stay poised and calm on both offense and defense and try to step it up. They were hitting 3s right in our face without our hands up. It was just minor things that we had to fix to get back into it.”
On playing the entire game:
“You don’t want to come out this time of year. You want to stay out there and give all that you can. Did I expect it? I don’t think it was an expectation. I was just out there trying to do what I could.”
Annalise Pickrel, Michigan State Forward
On the team’s mindset:
“In the Big Ten Tournament I didn’t really come out and do a lot for my team. It was discouraging to me. I tried to change my mindset, starting with defense for this tournament. Just to relax more with my shot and not focus as much on offense. That was my mindset.”
On her increased scoring load today:
“I felt pretty confident at that point. I felt like I could pick up some of the slack that was happening. It was a credit to my teammates for finding me with good passes on flairs. That all goes into a shooters ability to make shots, credit to them.”
On using a smaller lineup:
“I think it gave us the ability to guard their five guards. Jasmine [Hines] and Becca [Mills], they do a good job out there too. I think the seven or six of us that were in rotation to guard their lineup was more effective because of their quickness and ability to shoot long range.”
Kiana Johnson, Michigan State Guard
On Marist’s run in the second half:
“Basketball is a game of runs. We knew that they were going to make a run eventually. We just had to get our focus back and once we did that we were alright.”
On playing the entire game:
“I didn’t want to come out. I kind of expected it because of Marist’s lineup. They are all guards and their bigs just guard the bigs but play on the perimeter. We knew that we were going to have to play a lot of minutes, and we were just ready. “
Frank Giorgis, Marist Head Coach
“If we would have played the first half like we did the second half, I think there could have been a different outcome. The first half was very unusual to see because this has been a group that’s been very resilient, very determined, and we played very tentatively. It’s been 22 games since we’ve gone up against someone with that type of quickness and that sort of close out ability. Somehow we were seeing that everyone was closing out on us and they really weren’t that close and we didn’t take the shots that we normally took. We took them in the second half and we made them, but it was the little thing. For us, giving up seven offensive rebounds with five guards was good, but it was the crucial one down the stretch just gave them extra opportunities. You can see that we’ve been ahead a lot this year because down the stretch they didn’t know to take the ball in the first five seconds or foul, but I don’t think that was the difference in the game. We played an excellent Michigan State team. They beat Purdue at Purdue and they spanked us earlier in the year, so it showed us how far we’ve come. I’ve never been more proud of a team as I am of this one because we did it with no star and almost pulled it off. To Michigan State’s credit, they made the plays at the end.”
On the lack of shots in the first half:
“It was very frustrating. For a team that played as confidently as this one did in the MAAC season, it was hard. We played UConn, and we actually played pretty well. We played Purdue, we played Kentucky, and the thing that was so frustrating was that they were played scared, but they didn’t play scared against those people. You don’t worry about who’s closing out on you and we did so many times. That was not the team that we had been offensively all year. In the second half, that was the team that we’d been. You have to give credit to Michigan State. We played a better version of ourselves, but I didn’t know what team was out there playing in the first half.”
On what he thinks about this team:
“I’m proud of every team I’ve ever had, but this team didn’t have any stars and they almost did it. We just played with guards, and the kids made the adjustment on the fly.”
On Annalise Pickral:
“She 6’3, shoots the 3, can go inside. Here’s a kid that can shoot 3s and is one of their best post players, and that’s a bad matchup for us, especially when she played the three.”
Casey Dulin, Marist Guard
On what was said at halftime:
“Before Coach [Giorgis] even came into the locker room at halftime, we knew what needed to do to get back in the game. We took each other’s advice and went out on the court and we needed to score more points, grab more rebounds and do the little things, and we did. We just fell short.”
“On shooting more in the second half:
[Coach Giorgis] reminded us to shoot more, but none of did want to take the shot when the shot clock was running down. Once we realized we needed to do that, we got open shots and they fell.”
Sydney Coffey, Marist Guard
“Michigan State did a great job rebounding today. They crashed the boards offensively and that’s why we only had one offensive rebound. They were all around the boards while we were just heading back to play defense.”
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