Game 10 - #2 Tennessee 63, #3 Vanderbilt 48
Candace Parker scored 17 of her 25 points in the first half, and the No. 3 Tennessee Lady Vols will have a shot at their third Southeastern Conference tournament title in four years after beating instate rival No. 21 Vanderbilt 63-48 on Saturday night.
The victory also gives the Lady Vols a rematch Sunday night against the last team to beat them in No. 7 LSU, a 66-49 winner over Kentucky in the other semifinal. LSU won the SEC regular season title by routing Tennessee 78-62 in Knoxville on Feb. 14.
Tennessee, which already has 12 SEC tourney championships, will be making its 18th appearance in the title game after knocking off the defending champion.
Vanderbilt lost for the first time in nine games at the Sommet Center, which is only a mile from its own gym.
Story Courtesy: AP Wire Reports
-Tonight’s attendance of 12,897 is the largest in a single-session in SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament history.
-Tennessee and LSU will play in the SEC Tournament Championship game for the fourth time since 2003.
The win tonight…
-Improves the Lady Vols to 29-2 on the season
-Gives UT a 52-6 lead in the all-time series with Vanderbilt, including a 16-game winning streak.
-Gives UT a 57-16 all-time record in SEC Tournament games.
-Gives UT a 396-59 all-time record against teams from the SEC.
-Gives UT a 393-150 all-time record against ranked teams, including a 13-2 mark this season.
-Gives Pat Summitt a career record of 976-182 in her 34th season at UT.
-Scored in double figures for the 15th time this season and the 64th time in her career.
-Her 350 career steals are the UT record and rank fifth in the SEC annals.
-Played in her 139th career game, moving her into a tie for eighth place in the UT record books for games played by a Lady Vol. Anosike has never missed a game in four years.
-Started for the 126th time of her career, moving her into a tie for third place with Tamika Catchings for most career starts in UT history.
-Moved past Semeka Randall (731) and into sixth place in the UT record books for career field goals made (738).
-Scored in double figures for the 37th straight game and the 98th time of her career.
-Scored 20+ points for the third straight game, the 17th time this season and the 44th time of her career.
-Needs 19 points to reach 2,000 for her career.
-In just three seasons, has made 488 free throws, ranking her second in UT history and ninth in the SEC annals.
Story Courtesy: UT Lady Vols Sports Information
Tennessee Postgame Quotes--
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, obviously second half I thought our defense really stepped up for us. We went with a little bigger, more athletic lineup, which I thought helped us run our five defense, basically our switching, man to man.
That to me was a big difference. And opened up the game obviously with too many turnovers, just a little bit too careless and maybe over anxious offensively.
But I think that when you get to the free throw line, shoot well from the line, and obviously Candace did a good job for us, and also just working hard for the basketball. I thought Nicky Anosike had a tremendous defensive game. Her presence made a big difference in what Vanderbilt was able to see and able to do, so really pleased with our seniors and their play.
Q. Nicky, the regular season loss to LSU, could you just kind of what did the team come away with from that game? What did you learn in that game?
NICKY ANOSIKE: I think the main lesson that we learned from that game is that even though you're up by a lot, you've still got to keep fighting and pushing and you should never let up, and the effort still has to be there.
Q. Candace, can you talk a little bit about the defense in this game? You guys have played excellent defense in this tournament, how important is that for you guys right now?
CANDACE PARKER: I think we really picked up our defense, especially in the second half and towards the end of the first half. Like Coach said, we had a big lineup in there and we were able to just play to our strengths. We had a lot of defense translate into offense and transition and things like that. So I think we really did a great job of just playing defense and playing together.
Q. Nicky, you guys had to play Vanderbilt for a third time. How difficult is that to beat a team three times in one season?
NICKY ANOSIKE: I think what makes it so hard is that they know our tendencies and we know their tendencies, but I guess the team that plays the best defense and rebounds the hardest is the team that's going to come out with the win. We knew that going in, and we heard all the stories about how they've never lost in this building, but we just stayed strong, I guess.
Q. Candace, can you just also talk about the match up tomorrow against LSU, what you all will take from the last game going into tomorrow?
CANDACE PARKER: Well, I mean, they beat us on our home floor, and they won the SEC championship outright, so obviously we have incentive going in. But what it's going to come down to is defense and rebounding and playing a 40 minute game. I think we're a completely different team than we were when we played them, and I think we're going to play with energy and play for 40 minutes.
THE MODERATOR: Okay, thank you. For Coach?
Q. Starting out Vandy went into that 1 3 1 defense and you didn't have a lot of success. What did you do to change that?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I just thought we were standing on offense, so we just went into some different offensive sets to attack them better and even went with a triangle, a high post and two low post players.
I think when you're not shooting the ball very well, you can become stagnant, and I thought they were early, but then we picked our pace up. We had to rely a lot we only shot 22 percent in the second half, and I've always believed you're going to have some of those nights, not that you didn't have good shot selection, but obviously you just didn't make shots. We experienced that in both halves. I just really felt like that we stepped up at halftime we talked at halftime a lot about having to be a better defensive team because we know Vanderbilt, we run a lot of great action.
But I thought the key for us was that we just got the ball moving a little bit quicker and then we got on the glass. We got on the glass, and that really helped us, particularly in the second half. We weren't out on the boards. Candace had one defensive at halftime, Nicky was the only one that seemed committed to rebounding, and when you're not making shots you've got to get on the glass.
Q. Candace said they're a completely different team than when you played LSU. What's different about the team now? It wasn't that long ago.
COACH SUMMITT: I think that game was a definite wake up call. I think that they realized that they had just been playing in spurts. I mean, you think of the number of times we've gotten off to a huge lead, only to see it dwindle away and then us have to fight to the bitter end and the last possession to win a game.
I think that that was a costly one for them. They knew they probably had lost the SEC regular season title, and they really had no one to blame but themselves. That was probably when we had our best player meeting and coaches player meeting. I think that's when they took ownership. I told them we had gotten away with being a team that played in spurts and playing the scoreboard instead of playing the game with great passion for 40 minutes. I said, if you're going to be a championship caliber team you've got to do it.
I've said a number of times, it is difficult to motivate a team coming off of a championship with the exception of the '98 team. They were different.
Q. Talk about the difference in the three point shooting. They were 2 for 17 and you were 6 for 19.
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think Vanderbilt has been very committed to the three ball, and I think we did a better job of extending our defense. I think our switching man really helped us because when they set the ball screens in the first half, you know, we were trapping the wing, and running what we call our Velcro in the middle of the floor with a hedge and going under.
But I thought in the second half we were more aggressive and we were switching and closing out on the basketball a little bit better. So I think the shots were more contested than anything.
Q. Can you talk about the tempo was upbeat again tonight, and later on between the first at the end of the first half. Is that what you're going to need to have versus LSU tomorrow night?
COACH SUMMITT: Well, I think we I think our team is best when we play up tempo. We're looking to score in early offense without having to always think setup. This team, I think they really thrive on that, as well, and that's where our defense has to generate our primary opportunities. We've done a pretty good job of that. And also just getting our guards to get to the paint in transition. Candace has done a great job in this tournament of running to the rim. So that puts a lot of pressure on the defense and also opens up the inside out options, as well.
But I think everyone that knows our team knows that we want to play up tempo. We want to run at you but not necessarily with you.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. We'll see you tomorrow night, Coach.
Vanderbilt Postgame Quotes--
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment.
COACH BALCOMB: Well, I was really proud of our effort. I thought we came out really strong, and they had been starting games unbelievably. I think we did a great job being ready to play. Defensively I couldn't ask for a better effort. Offensively, you know, we really struggled. They really picked up their defense and their denial and took things away from our offense. I think that really we had a lot of opportunities that we didn't take advantage of, and eventually they started offensive rebounding, which they do so well.
But really, I think we've played them harder each time we've played them this year, and like I said, I'm proud of how much we've improved as a team.
Q. As Melanie mentioned, getting better each time, is that a little tough when you've had the losses to come back and try and find the improvement, and obviously you started much better tonight? Do you think you're getting there? And how much do you think you've improved over these games?
CHRISTINA WIRTH: I definitely don't think it's hard to come back. I think that every time we play them we're excited about the opportunity that we have, and I think tonight we came out fired up. Like you said, when we played them at home they came out and jumped on us early so tonight we had a focus on really attacking them, you know and just going for it. We had nothing to lose. They're a higher seed, higher ranking if that means anything, so we just came out. Yeah, we're getting better all year long, so any time we have an opportunity like this to test us, we're excited about it.
Q. Tina, can you talk about the struggles you've had in the last two games offensively? Are they putting some special defenses on you, or what's going on there?
CHRISTINA WIRTH: I mean, I think teams know that I'm a shooter so I think that they're starting to do a better job than early in the season. I had wide open looks pretty much every game, and now I don't get those wide open looks as much. I did get those looks, so did Merideth Marsh and our other shooters, we just didn't knock them down. I thought gen did awesome this entire tournament. We just need to find a way to hit those shots. Yeah, they had good defensive pressures, but shooters have to keep shooting, and that's what we're going to do.
Q. You had 15 rebounds yesterday, nine rebounds today. What's your secret?
JENNIFER RISPER: I don't know. I just want to get it. We do a lot of drills in practice where we're fighting hard and just competing a lot, so I think it's just carrying over into the game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. For Coach?
Q. Can you talk about the tempo of the game, especially in the second half?
COACH BALCOMB: What about the tempo?
Q. It seemed like there were a lot of long possessions on both ends of the court, and was that by design or was that because of the defense of both of the teams?
COACH BALCOMB: Well, the score was 26 to 20 in the second half, so I think both teams were playing very hard defence. We've played each other three times. We know each other very well. It's like an NCAA game. Both teams are very prepared, they're both very successful, and you're going to see great defensive efforts and people being taken away from things. And it's going to be hard to get shots, so you're not going to be able to make one pass and score. It's not going to be easy. So that slowed the tempo down more.
Yes, obviously they're very, very good in transition, and that was one of our goals was to slow them down and to stop them we held them to 26 points in the second half, and this is a team that scores 80 and 90 a night, so I think that was definitely a big part of our game plan and was successful.
Q. You talked last time you guys played about the height differential, the speed and the athleticism. Does it come down to that again tonight?
COACH BALCOMB: Personally I don't think it did. I think they hit shots and we didn't. Who would have thought we'd shoot 2 for 17 from three and had open looks from especially Tina Wirth and Merideth Marsh who are two of the best three point shooters in the country, that they generally make. They shot the ball really well from three, especially in the first half. We did a better job getting out on their shooters in the second half.
I don't think it's so much height and athleticism, but they do have one of the best players in the country, and that changes your team defensively. Candace Parker changes a game. You've got to play her a certain way and try to take away her without giving too much to everybody else. So that makes it even more difficult.
But the fact that we held them to 63 points, I don't think that happens to them a lot. I think that that's something that's going to give us an opportunity to make a run in the NCAAs, and in the postseason that's where we want to be defensively. Offensively we didn't make the shots. We had them but we did not make them.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
Story Courtesy: The SEC
Game 9 - #1 LSU 66, #4 Kentucky 49
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- LSU coach Van Chancellor took his Lady Tigers to Dairy Queen after winning the regular season Southeastern Conference title.
They've got one more game to play before they get another treat, though.
"At LSU, we don't celebrate semifinal wins. We celebrate championships," Chancellor said.
No. 7 LSU beat Kentucky 66-49 in the SEC semifinals on Saturday night, earning their fourth consecutive trip to the conference title game to face either No. 3 Tennessee or No. 21 Vanderbilt.
The top-seeded Lady Tigers (27-4) have played in the championship game eight times, but have only won the title twice, most recently in 2003.
If earning the SEC tournament crown isn't enough, Chancellor gave his players another goal: "maybe milkshakes," he said.
Sylvia Fowles had 20 points and 13 rebounds for LSU, Quianna Chaney added 18 points and Ashley Thomas had the team's second double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Fowles acknowledged that it can be easy to get caught up in the hype of tournaments, and said she and her teammates must be focused if they want to grab that elusive tournament title.
"You want it real bad, but then again, you have to come down and make sure you come out in the right now," the senior said. "I know for me personally, I've always gotten overhyped. I've had to learn to calm down and let the game come to me."
Even though LSU will serve as the home team in the championship game as the top-seeded team, its opponent will draw the bigger crowd. The tournament is being played two miles away from Vanderbilt's campus and about 200 miles away from Tennessee's Knoxville campus.
Chancellor isn't worried about that.
"Last time I checked the basket was 10 feet high. If we can put it in, we're going to win," he said.
Fourth-seeded Kentucky (15-15) was looking to break a 13-game losing skid to LSU after nearly upsetting the Lady Tigers in February.
The Wildcats also were looking to make only their second trip to the title game. Their lone trip came in 1982, when they upset a 17th-ranked LSU and went on to win the championship.
"We were up against a very good opponent," Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said. "It was not a lack of effort."
Samantha Mahoney led Kentucky scoring with 17 points, and Sarah Elliott added 12.
After entering halftime with a 37-26 lead, LSU had little problem pulling away from Kentucky.
The Lady Tigers pushed their lead all the way to 19 points on a jumper by Allison Hightower, giving LSU a 55-36 lead with 7:46 left.
A small but vocal contingent of fans clad in purple and gold shouted "LSU, LSU," as the clock wound down.
Kentucky cut LSU's first half lead to 21-18 on a free throw by Eleia Roddy.
The Lady Tigers scored the next seven points, grabbing a 28-18 lead on a Chaney jumper with 3:41 before halftime.
A few minutes later, Amani Franklin fouled Chaney as she shot from the 3-point line, and Chaney sank all three free throws to push the lead to 37-24 with 1:17 before the break.
Three LSU players had already reached double-figure scoring by halftime, thanks to 45.8 percent shooting. Fowles had 14 points and Chaney and Thomas had 10 each.
Kentucky struggled with its shots, missing 22 of its 31 first half field goals and missing six of 11 attempts from the charity stripe.
The Wildcats' 31.1 shooting percentage was their second worst of the season.
"Our mind-set was to play hard, and I think that we did, we just didn't get the outcome that we wanted," Elliott said.
With tonight's win, LSU moves on to the SEC Tournament Championship for the fourth consecutive year. The Tigers have not won an SEC Tournament Championship since 2003.
LSU is now 16-0 this season against SEC competition after sweeping the regular season and picking up two wins in Nashville.
Senior Sylvia Fowles scored 20 points, the 10th consecutive game that she has finished with double-figures in points.
This marks the 37th time in Fowles' career that she has scored 20+ points, the 10th time this season.
Senior Quianna Chaney scored 18 points to finish in double digits for the fifth straight game.
By adding 13 rebounds to her 20 points, Fowles collected her 18th double-double of the season, the 81st of her LSU career. Fowles is the all-time leader in double-doubles at LSU and in the SEC.
With the 13 rebounds, Fowles pulled down 10+ boards for the 85th time in her storied tenure in Baton Rouge,
Fowles blocked two shots, moving her into eighth place on LSU's all-time blocked shots list.
With the semi-final appearance Coach Matthew Mitchell has gone deeper in the SEC tournament than any first-year head coach at Kentucky.
Kentucky went 3-of-9 from beyond the arc and has now hit a three-pointer in 150 consecutive games dating back to the 2003-04 season.
The LSU game marks the 129th game Samantha Mahoney and Sarah Elliott have played in, tying them most career games at Kentucky with Jennifer Humphrey (2003-07).
Kentucky has held 33 of its last 35 opponents to less than 50 percent shooting after hold LSU to 48 percent (24-50).
Senior guard Samantha Mahoney scored seven points to increase her total to 1,529. She is No. 5 on UK's all-time scoring list.
Mahoney started her squad-high 73rd consecutive game.
Senior Chelsea Chowning dished out a season-high five assists. She has 36 assists on the season.
Senior center Sarah Elliott finished with 12 points and cracked the top 10 on UK's all-time scoring list with 1,551 career points. With her 12 points tonight she is now in sole possession of 8th place.
With three rebounds, Elliott has now pulled down 790 career rebounds to move to No. 4 all-time.
LSU Postgame Quotes
THE MODERATOR: Coach, when you're ready, just an opening comment.
COACH CHANCELLOR: Give Kentucky some credit for playing well tonight. I thought they did a good job of defending us. They played really well.
Then I thought our two oldest players, Fowles and Chaney, were pretty good. I thought Ashley Thomas gave us some big points early, but I thought when we had Chaney's 7 for 10, Sylvia's 6 for 9, they let them out of 12 free throws, and that's pretty good. You've got to have seniors in this league to win, so our two seniors stepped up.
Ask the players questions.
Q. Just talk about the big time win tonight. You know you're back in the championship game. What are you looking to do different this year than you did last year?
QUIANNA CHANEY: I think just our mental focus and our toughness to come out and play well as a team and just make sure we play team ball and stick together.
SYLVIA FOWLES: I'll agree, focus and come out and play for 40 minutes.
Q. Have you guys put aside to this point the goal of winning this tournament since you haven't done it, but now that it's here how badly do you want it? How much is the desire there for this title, especially since you haven't won it?
SYLVIA FOWLES: It's like a sense of urgency. You want to win it real bad but you've got to calm down and make sure you come out on the right note. I know me personally I always get over hyped for games like this, and I learned how to calm down and let the game come to me, so I'll be looking forward to the game tomorrow.
Q. When you played Tennessee before you went down 16 and then you turned that around. Why did you all start so slow, and then what changed to enable you to take over and take the lead?
COACH CHANCELLOR: I don't usually take over like this, but we will not answer in questions in regard to playing Tennessee at this time because Tennessee has got to win a game, I'm sorry. I'm not being rude, I'm not going to get in that deal. I'm sorry, I really respect you, but we will not answer those questions. You can ask anything else you want to ask.
Q. Talk about you kept Kentucky in foul trouble from early on. That didn't really allow them to establish the game than that they wanted to. Would you attribute some of that to the win tonight, you guys were able to play loose and keep running on them?
QUIANNA CHANEY: Yes, I'd say that was part of our game plan was to run. We know they send the majority of their players to the boards, so we had the great opportunity to run. We got them in foul trouble early on, and that's something that was a part of our game plan, as well.
Q. Sylvia, you didn't play that much against Ole Miss. It was such an easy win tonight. You got 30 minutes. Do your legs feel pretty good? Do you feel pretty rested going into this championship game?
SYLVIA FOWLES: Yes, I'm feeling very rested for the most part, but even if I do have that doubt, I'm pretty sure our trainer, she'll do a great job of getting us rested tonight.
Q. I apologize if this has been asked before, but what's the difference between this game and the last time you played UK as far as from you guys' perspective?
SYLVIA FOWLES: If you ask me, I don't think it really was a big difference. I don't feel we played our best basketball tonight, but we ended up with a win, so I'm grateful for the win.
COACH CHANCELLOR: Here's what we'll do in fairness to you. When this game is over with, I think we'll still be here, and really quick like if you would like to ask our players a question at the end of this game, we'll be glad to answer it at that time because we'll have a winner.
I want to have access to the press. We need the press, and I don't want to cut that out. Is that a fair deal to everybody? So you can get to them.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach?
Q. Before the tournament I was reading articles, and you were talking about that you focused more on LSU this year and things that you needed to improve. What do you think that your team has improved the most at thus far?
COACH CHANCELLOR: I don't think there's any doubt the most improvement they've made is having a little fun, just fun, just enjoying playing and having fun, winning the SEC championship and stopping at Dairy Queen and having ice cream. I think that's important if you want my honest opinion, in coaching and dealing with players.
I think the second thing now that you want to hear is offensively. We have made some changes. We've got people like Chaney we're just letting shoot. If you touch it and you feel good, shoot it. We've made some changes in the offense a little bit, a little more screen on the ball, a little more set plays, not a lot of set plays. We actually put in a play today that worked really well for us. We called it BB, named it after Basketball Bob. I'll take credit for it, but that's what we ran.
Q. You played two games that were vastly different with UK this time around. How did this game kind of look to you?
COACH CHANCELLOR: I thought this was a carbon copy of the game in Baton Rouge. I thought the game with UK up there we played really, really well and shot the ball and scored, and they didn't defend us like they defended us the last two games. The last two games went almost identical except at the end. They had not played last night before, and I thought we were able to wear them down. We didn't play many minutes, and then at the end we were able to stretch it out a little bit, whereas as home it went down to the very last play.
Q. Can you just talk about Ashley Thomas?
COACH CHANCELLOR: I thought that was the difference in the game tonight. First time she's ever had a double double. To put one in front of Sylvia and one behind her, they tried to double Chaney, and when they did that left her open and she made some big shots. She hit some shots. She made some shots. And then she rebounded the ball unbelievable. That's the best she's rebounded the ball since I've been in Baton Rouge.
Q. You maintained a double figure lead throughout the second half but you never could turn the game into a blowout. Talk about Kentucky's effort and the toughness they played with?
COACH CHANCELLOR: I thought Kentucky had great effort. You know, I thought they played hard. You go back and think about it, they've beaten Georgia twice in a season. Kentucky plays really hard. Matthew Mitchell is a greedy kind of person in life, and I kind of thought the team reflected it. They could have threw in the towel when we were up 17, but they didn't. Mahoney has done a great job.
You know, when she moved to the point that really helped them in my mind. That other little kid is tough and really played well, but she's just a tough match up for us at the point. She's really a good player. And Elliott is what I hate most, I miss Elliott's daddy. I sat in the stands tonight and listened to him. He plays as hard as she does, and I enjoyed dad as much as I enjoyed watching Georgia and Kentucky play.
Q. Your first answer in what's changed about LSU is that they're having more fun, that you went to Dairy Queen as soon as you won the regular season title. Are you doing anything fun with them tonight?
COACH CHANCELLOR: At LSU we don't celebrate semifinal wins. I don't mean that bad. We're going to celebrate the championships. That will probably be milkshakes or something, I don't know.
Q. Sylvia was mentioning that she tended to get too hyped up sometimes for big games. Is this something you've talked to her about early in the year, or how has that come about?
COACH CHANCELLOR: We talked to her about watching fouls. You cannot get in foul trouble. Then we talked to her about that you were going to get banged across in the lane. Don't let that bother you. Then we said get in big games and just you're a great player. Sometimes Sylvia, you think Sylvia is a great player.
Sylvia don't think that all the time. So in turn I tell her all the time, I don't never talk to her I usually call her big one or a great player. Great players think they've got to make great plays and they've got to be a factor in the game, and you can't be a factor in the game if you're all nervous and hyped up.
Q. No matter who you play tomorrow, I think it's safe to say that the winner is going to be from the state of Tennessee. Are you going to tell your ladies anything tonight, tomorrow morning, not to get wrapped up into the team that has the home field advantage?
COACH CHANCELLOR: We don't even mention that. We played Tennessee in Knoxville, they had 17,000, 16,000. We don't bring that up. All you're doing is creating a negative in the players' minds. Last time I checked the basket was ten feet high, and if we can put it in there we'll win. We're just looking forward to playing in the game. We'll actually start just as soon as the game is over with and we will prepare for the players in the morning. We won't be we want them to get a good night's rest and then we'll be meeting with them in the morning, not tonight.
Q. You mentioned the play that you all put in for today's game. Can you go into a little more detail about it without giving it away? The play that you put in, the BB?
COACH CHANCELLOR: We just tried to put in we run a lot of motion here so we can put in quick hitters on the day of the game that nobody had scouted. We put a little play in for Chaney. She didn't score off of it but big Syl scored three times off of it. They were doubling us outside and I thought it was a good move by Bob.
I want to say this, too, the player most unappreciated at LSU is Erica White. We bring Chaney in here, we bring her in here, we get questions about Thomas' play. Poor old Erica runs this team, is the whole heart of our team and gets very little credit in some people's minds. In the coaches' minds a lot of credit.
Kentucky Postgame Quotes
THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment?
COACH MITCHELL: Well, disappointed with the outcome today. I thought that after the good game we played last night we definitely had some confidence coming into the game, and I thought our team really played hard, gave a lot of effort. We were up against a very opponent, and I thought LSU played really well today.
But I would compliment our team. I think that it was not a lack of effort. I think we had some execution breakdowns, and we did not have a good day shooting. But I think going into postseason, our team plays with enough intensity on defense and enough intensity rebounding that we have a chance to beat anybody we play, and I'm looking forward to going into the postseason with this team, and I'm real proud of what they've accomplished in this tournament.
Q. Samantha, you have played them pretty tough the last time. What was the difference in today's game?
SAMANTHA MAHONEY: I think our shooting was a key factor in the game today. I think they really pushed the ball hard at us every time down the court to get easy baskets. We didn't particularly guard them well in transition.
Q. Do you feel like fatigue was at all a factor, having just played late last night?
SARAH ELLIOTT: I don't think it was a big factor because we work really hard all year round to keep in shape, and our physical and our endurance up. I would not like to think that it was, but I'm sure eventually it did get to us, but our mindset was to play hard and give everything we had. I believe we did that, we just didn't want the outcome that we wanted.
Q. Samantha, they kept a pretty comfortable lead the whole second half, but at the same time they never were able to completely blow you guys out. You hung tough, and Van commented earlier about how you guys never gave up and threw in the towel?
SAMANTHA MAHONEY: Well, we knew if we could keep the game close we'd have a chance at the end like we did in Baton Rouge. That's what we were telling ourselves today. We were down in the last four teams in this tournament and we didn't want to give up that easily.
Q. Sarah, what makes Fowles such a difficult and tough match up from your perspective?
SARAH ELLIOTT: She's a all American. She's great hands, great touch, she's very athletic. All you can do is be physical with her, play her tough. All I can do is just give her my best, and I know she's going to get baskets and I have to expect that and be understanding of that. I just have to limit her baskets, do my best to do that. She's just a great all around player, and I give her props. She works hard.
Q. Can either one of you talk about the postseason and where you think you should be and if you think you played your way in?
SAMANTHA MAHONEY: Well, of course we want to be in the NCAA Tournament. I think we beat a few ranked teams this year, we've played a lot of top teams really tough down to the wire. We really competed hard in our conference. We extended it to nine wins now, I believe it is. And I think we really deserve to be in the NCAA tournament.
SARAH ELLIOTT: We competed very hard all season. We had one of the tougher seasons in the nation, played LSU and Tennessee twice, and we both we fought very hard each one, and I believe that we deserve to go and, you know, give it our all because I believe that our defense can definitely keep us in the tournament. We play with everything that we've got every game, and we're just not willing to give up, and I think that's a very big thing. I mean, I love this team, and I know we all desperately and lovingly want to go into the NCAA.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. Anything for Coach?
Q. Can you just answer the question that they did about the NCAA?
COACH MITCHELL: I will now answer that question. We've been talking around it for a while. Look, I think it comes down to what the committee values, and I'm not sure I have a good grasp on that or if anyone knows. And it's a complicated process, but I think our case is pretty simple. Are you going to reward a team based on the team they started out to be or the team they became?
I think our players deserve a lot of credit for undergoing a coaching change, having to make that transition was not easy. Having to play one of the top schedules in the country, and having to do that in the pre conference portion with significant injuries to significant contributors on the team. I think that is a piece of the puzzle that people have to look at.
You know, wherever our league stacks up, a team that wins nine games against Southeastern Conference competition, if we're not a team that's worthy of strong consideration or even in the tournament, I don't know what they're going to say that they really value. I don't know what the case against us is going to be besides five of our losses are against Tennessee and LSU. I mean, that's one part of it.
We didn't duck and run, and we could have scheduled in a manner that would have gotten us to 20 wins, but I don't know if we would have become the team that we were able to be or that we are today had we done that. I'm real proud of our players.
I told them in the locker room I'm going to talk to whoever I can talk to and I'll fight for them because they have gone through a whole lot this year, and to come out I think we saw last night we earned our top four seed. We advanced. It was not a flukey type game. We came out and we knew we had to win, and we won that game. I think there's a lot to be said about Kentucky, and I think that we are extremely deserving.
Q. You've just played a team that has still not lost an SEC game this year, yet you stayed in it, you never threw in the towel. How proud are you?
COACH MITCHELL: I'm very proud of our effort today. I thought that LSU I have so much respect for them. Not only are they talented, they play extremely hard and they play with a lot of discipline, and you don't always see that from real talented teams. I don't see LSU taking a lot of shortcuts, and I'm so impressed with the way that they play and carry themselves.
So I have a lot of respect for them, and to see our players go out and battle and to see our players prepare this morning and listen and really want to come in and win this game is something that I think speaks to what kind of team we have been able to become.
Q. With the NCAA right around the corner and a possible berth coming you guys' way, when you get there is it something you think your team is going to be playing a little bit better seeing as the last team you faced was LSU, a team with their caliber?
COACH MITCHELL: That's another case I would make for our chances going into the tournament. I don't know anybody that would draw us and go, boy, I'd really like to play Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament. I think they would look at the way we play, and we play really, really hard nosed, really aggressive and tough, we're going to guard every time we take the floor, we're going to rebound every time we take the floor, we're going to find ways to win. I don't know that anybody would be jumping up and down if they drew us in the NCAA tournament.
So I would have a lot of confidence in our group going into it. We have played the top teams in the country. We know what it's like to compete against them. So I would go in with an extremely high level of confidence if we were to get a bid.
Q. Can you talk about what Thomas was able to do in the first half? You guys seemed to be sagging off of her to get some fouls and she made a few key shots for them?
COACH MITCHELL: Well, Thomas was 5 for 10 in the first half and then 0 for 7 in the second half, and we just were going to ride that and play those percentages, and I thought we could live with her 5 of 10, we couldn't live with 14 from the line, and I apologize for beating LSU up, we were so hard and tough on them. But in all seriousness, we fouled too much in the first half. So our players were clear on what the game plan was, and she's a good player and she did a good job. She did a much better job today than she did in Baton Rouge, but that was the game plan with her.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
Story Courtesy: The SEC