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March 6, 2015

Nia Coffey

Ashley Deary

Maggie Lyon

Joe McKeown


Northwestern – 62
Rutgers - 57

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by head coach Joe McKeown and student‑athletes Maggie Lyon, Ashley Deary and Nia Coffey.  Coach, an opening statement.
COACH MCKEOWN:  Great second half by us.  And really proud of our team, the way they responded at halftime.  We had struggled.  Rutgers really beat us up the first ten minutes of the game.  I thought we did a good job coming back the end of the first half.  But the second half I just felt like we played, once we took the lead, I felt we played with a lot of poise and made big plays.
In March, whether you win by one or ten, you just want to win and move forward.  And I think we played with some urgency in the second half.  And really proud of our team.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Ashley, your defensive pressure in the first half was huge.  You didn't attempt a shot in the first half, you had four steals in the second half.  You were so active in the open court.  How big was the ramping up of your defensive pressure to get you all on a run that would eventually win a game?
ASHLEY DEARY:  I thought it was important because it got them flustered.  They weren't really sure what to do.  It rallied us as a team to get transition points and get back on the boards.

Q.  Nia, you played in this tournament last year so you had that experience, but you still had a slow start tonight.  Was it just because you didn't get to play earlier or just nervousness or anything like that?
NIA COFFEY:  We have our good days and bad days.  I just had a slow day.  I have my team to back me up.  So we played again, that's why we got the win.

Q.  Do you think the fact you beat Rutgers by 20 points just last week played a role at all in the start to the game?
MAGGIE LYON:  I agree with what Nia just said.  I don't think so.  I think it might have changed how they started the game, but I think that they came out a little stronger.
We didn't play as much energetic basketball in the first half.  But I think we have a whole team to call us out on it and hold each other accountable.  I think that's what the second half really drove us to get that lead is just kind of playing together and knowing that we were better than what we were in the first half.
ASHLEY DEARY:  Definitely, going into the halftime down, that was the motivation, we beat them before we knew we had it in us and we had to get together and be disciplined and go back to the basics.
NIA COFFEY:  Rutgers was a very talented team.  They play really hard.  So we knew better not to overestimate them because they were going to come out and play hard.  We had to match that.  We had a slow first half.  But we brought it back the second half.  That's what mattered.

Q.  Rutgers had a lot of foul trouble in the first half.  They had three players with three fouls going into halftime.  When you made your halftime adjustments, how much did it go into your mind that with them in so much foul trouble you could be a little more aggressive on the offensive end?
MAGGIE LYON:  I think that it definitely‑‑ I don't necessarily think it changed our game plan because we were in a little bit of foul trouble as well.  I think the game was called pretty tight.
Especially with a physical team, a really good defensive pressure team like Rutgers it's going to happen like that.  But I think that just‑‑ I think what we were focusing on more in the second half was our defensive pressure and we knew the shots would fall and we knew that if we executed our offense and played our game that things would turn around.

Q.  What kind of confidence do you have in making a comeback, with what you guys have done this season?
NIA COFFEY:  We know what we're capable when we play together and we play disciplined we can go really far and we played really well, so we have to make sure we maintain that mental stability and we'll be successful.

Q.  Can you talk about the role that having all those free throws in the first half played for you guys to keep you in the game?
ASHLEY DEARY:  I think it was really important because it kind of got them out of their sync and they had to drop back into a zone.  So it gave us motivation to just keep attacking and do what we can to get to the rim.  If we're not knocking down shots, we can at least hit it at the line.

Q.  Ashley, your thoughts getting a crack at Maryland six days after you played them last?
ASHLEY DEARY:  I think we're excited.  I think we're ready for revenge.  I think we're going to come out a whole different team and just energetic.  Like we want to win the Big Ten championship.  That's our goal.  There's not going to be a team that's going to stop us from that.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Questions for Coach.

Q.  Coach, is this an example of Nia's maturity level that she can play through the mistakes or the slow start today?
COACH MCKEOWN:  Yeah.  She's a great player.  She's had an incredible year, whether she's a sophomore or a senior, she's just done everything to put us in this position in so many ways.  And she got in a little foul trouble but came back in the last five minutes and rebounded the ball, made a big bucket.
So, you know, she had 35 points against Iowa.  She had 17 rebounds in the game.  You're not going to be able to do that every night in our league.  So I think, one thing she's doing is just learning where her shots are coming from, how to play when defenses are designed to stop you.  And that's I think the biggest growth I've seen in her.

Q.  You had five players in double figures tonight.  How pleased were you with the balance that you all showed on the offensive end especially in the second half?
COACH MCKEOWN:  A lot more poise in the second half.  I thought in the first half we were a little, we shot it quick and maybe forced some things.  But in the second half I thought we did a much better job running our offense.  Forced Rutgers, I think, to have to guard us with hard cuts and got the ball inside a little bit.
So it was just a rugged hard‑nosed game.

Q.  Ashley had a stretch when you guys first took the lead where she scored eight straight points for you guys.  Could you talk about how important that was and just about her playing in general for the game?
COACH MCKEOWN:  Got us in the open court where Rutgers in the half court defensively is one of the best teams in the country.  So it helped us to get buckets at the rim.  We talked about that at halftime.  We've got to get some things at the basket.  We were playing a little bit east/west.
We wanted to be more north/south.  And I thought that really opened some things up.  And just was able to get us some confidence on the defensive end, because you gotta score.  We scored and then we got a stop and scored and got a stop and that was important.

Q.  Facing a talented team, a coach that's got 950 wins and you're down 15 points in the first half, you still have that kind of confidence you guys are going to come back and win this?
COACH MCKEOWN:  I think our team feels that way and our coaching staff.  So we just felt like we needed to clean‑‑ we talked about at halftime just cleaning some things up.  I'll tell you, Maggie Lyon made a couple of big plays at the end of the first half and that really helped us because we were struggling.
We got it, I think, I want to say 32‑27.  And that was important, because Rutgers had control most of the first half up to that point.  We made that little run.  Even though we went in down 10 we felt like we had momentum.  And I thought that was really important.
And it gave us a little window coming out.

Q.  The team that's as strong as Rutgers and their ability to come back on a consistent basis.  How important was it once you got that lead to 10 points in the second half to be able to keep everybody to keep the pedal to the floor?
COACH MCKEOWN:  I thought we did a great job defensively.  And we rebounded in traffic, too.  Like being back on the beltway and not moving.  But we did a good job of rebounding in traffic.  And that was important.

Q.  Can you talk about how important it was for the team to continue to keep scoring when Nia went to the bench for that long stretch in the second half?
COACH MCKEOWN:  Yeah.  And I thought Lauren Douglas hit a big jumper.  Alex Cohen made big plays.  People stepped up.  Maggie, Karly.  So I thought we got real good, even though she's‑‑ Ashley had the ball a lot she also found ways to score.  That was important.  Because Rutgers they score quick.  A couple times they scored three or four seconds from the out of bounds.  And we did a better job, I thought.
So we're pretty balanced.  Like one of our strengths is we're balanced.  But I don't want to play without her.

Q.  Just your thoughts on getting Maryland again the second time in less than a week.  Is there anything maybe strategically you want to change without giving away the game plan?
COACH MCKEOWN:  You know, thank you for that article.  It touched a lot of people back in the DC area.  They're a great team.  There's a reason they're undefeated.
I think for us it's an opportunity, again it's one game.  The winner goes into the finals.  So I think we'll be loose.  I think Maryland in the second half of the game last week, you know, just showed why they went undefeated.
They had a stretch where they really capitalized when we couldn't score; they scored.  And we gotta stop those runs.  We just can't let those runs happen.  But they're a great team.  But it will be a fun game.  I'll tell you, our kids are competitive.

Q.  With this being only your second win in the Big Ten tournament in your tenure here at Northwestern, how important do you think it is as a confidence builder for this team, not just this year, but also going forward?
COACH MCKEOWN:  Do you count double byes as wins?  I don't know.  I guess not.  But those things‑‑ as you build a program, we played a great game.  I'll tell you, last year we played as about as good a game there is in the tournament against Ohio State.
They turn around the next day and beat the No. 1 seed by 30.  In these tournament games, you never know.  But again you've been around our team.  Our goals are really high right now and competitive.
So I think we came into this tournament like let's go play, we're Northwestern, and I think being a 4 seed gave our kids a lot of confidence in a 14‑team league.  And that's never happened before, too.  So we'll see.
These guys are capable of anything.

Q.  A lot of turnovers in the early part of the first half but you all secured the ball pretty much the end of the first half and entirety of the second half.  How important was it for you in making your comeback to be able to take care of the basketball and keep everything under control?
COACH MCKEOWN:  Rutgers was getting out.  They were getting layups at the rim.  And I thought we stopped that, we did a much better job in the second half.  And we gotta do the same thing tomorrow because Maryland is capable of turning people over and scoring in transition off their defense.  So that's going to be important for us.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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