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March 7, 2015

Nia Coffey

Maggie Lyon

Joe McKeown


Maryland – 74
Northwestern - 63

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by head coach Joe McKeown and student‑athletes Nia Coffey and Maggie Lyon.  Coach, an opening comment.
COACH MCKEOWN:  You know, it was just a hard‑fought tough game, really proud of our team for fighting back.  We played a great‑‑ we came out ready to play, played as good as 15, 16‑minute stretch as I thought maybe we played all year.  And Maryland made a big run at the end of the first half that kind of came back in the game of runs.  Just disappointed.  We coached this game and our players played this game to beat Maryland.
That was our philosophy coming in.  Okay.  Why are you playing tonight?  And let's go beat them and so everything we did was to try to beat them, and I thought our kids did a great job.  And I give Maryland a lot of credit.
Terrific team, they can play inside out.  And we just, we just couldn't get the lead back in the second half.  But what a great effort by these two and the rest of our team.  And great fan support tonight.  It was just great‑‑ it was great for our program.  But give Maryland a lot of credit.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Nia, to start the game you had 16 points in the first ten minutes.  You were nailing shots from everywhere.  Could you explain what was happening in that really hot start to start the game?
NIA COFFEY:  My intentions were to go out there and play hard and play for my team.

Q.  You guys had a stretch to start off the second half, they really increased their lead, their offense just kind of died and it was a rare stretch for you guys, especially this season.  What was going on out there on your end or defensively that really slowed down the offense the start of the second half?
MAGGIE LYON:  I think, like Coach said, give Maryland a lot of credit.  They're a great offensive team.  And I felt like we came out with a lot of energy in the second half.  But they were just knocking down some shots.  They were getting inside/outside touches.  We just weren't knocking down shots.  And that just happens sometimes.
It's not always a perfect game.  So just give Maryland credit for their offensive game.

Q.  How big were the turnovers in this contest, your team second in the Big Ten in turnover margin but seemed like Maryland did a really good job forcing turnovers today?
MAGGIE LYON:  We know they're a really good defensive team as well.  And that they put a lot of pressure and force teams into bad situations offensively.  And sometimes we played into that.  I think that's where the turnovers came from.  But other times we kept our composure and played our game.
We know that turnovers aren't our game and that's when we run into trouble.  And they did a good job at times forcing us into that but we tried to reign it in.

Q.  In the first half you guys, there were very few fouls called on either team.  But you both fouled out and the game was called tighter in the second half.  Did it feel different out there.  Did you feel like you were playing a different style of defense, as far as it being more physical out there?
NIA COFFEY:  Definitely both teams were very physical.  We were playing physical.  We fought really hard and we weren't going to back down and neither were they.  We just played hard.  They started calling the game tighter so we just had to adjust.

Q.  Nia, going back to the first half, was it hard not to get ahead of yourself, when you were playing as well as you were playing, in particular, and as a whole as a team because you guys were up by I think 11 at one point in the first half and kind of disappeared pretty quickly after that?
NIA COFFEY:  I mean, Maryland is a great team.  We never overestimate any team.  Doesn't matter who we are playing.  We were playing our game.  It was going well.  And they want to run.  So we just had to come back, but it's a game of runs.

Q.  Maggie, Coach mentioned it, but the fight that you guys put up there at the end, how important was that as you guys look forward past this game and into the postseason to know that you weren't just going to lay down and going to keep fighting?
MAGGIE LYON:  I think it's super important.  And I think it's been a huge component of our season and there's been a lot of games where we're down double digits in the second half and we came back and won those games.  We knew it that it doesn't matter who we are playing, it's about us.  That's what Coach always says.
And there was no difference in tonight.  And Maryland, like everybody said, is a great team.  But who cares.  We want to go out there and we want to beat anybody.  So, yeah, I think just know that when you get down in the second half it's possession by possession, chip away, and don't try and get it away with one play.
And I thought we did a great job of fighting back.  And if we had four more minutes, never know what would have happened.

Q.  So the team had 25 points in the first ten minutes.  What changed for you, Nia, and the rest of the team after that, because it seemed like there was offensive dearth after that?
NIA COFFEY:  We slowed down a little bit.  But we're never going to stop fighting.  It took us a while to get back into things.  In games like this, that really hurt us.  But as our team, we keep fighting.  We keep playing together, and we just came back.
COACH MCKEOWN:  Just so you all know, like this team won 23 games this year.  These two are going to be one of the first teams in Northwestern history to play in the NCAA Tournament.  And you've got to understand what a great year these guys have had.  Really special.  Proud of both of them.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Coach.

Q.  Coach, the fouls started piling up for you guys in the second half.  Were you trying to do anything differently adjustments‑wise on your end to slow that down before Nia and Maggie ended up fouling out?
COACH MCKEOWN:  We were concerned about trying to attack the basket and then try to force them to take 3s.  They took a lot of 3s.  And what really hurt us during that stretch, when we did force them to take long shots, we didn't rebound it.  Gave them second chances.  And that really‑‑ that just to me was the difference in the game.

Q.  You've had great scoring depth recently.  You had five players in double figures basically every game recently.  Only two tonight.  What was the key tonight in Maryland limiting your scoring options?
COACH MCKEOWN:  Well, I think on any given night, we got seven people that can probably score.  So we had to look at different avenues.  Nia exploded early in the game.  Alex Cohen did a great job.
So as we move forward, I think we just‑‑ it's a matchup tournament coming up.  And when you have seven players that can score, I think we're going to have opportunities.  And we're a dangerous offensive team.  We're not a great offensive team because we have droughts.  But we're a dangerous offensive team.

Q.  As the game started to slip away and Maryland kept putting up 3s, did you ever think about making adjustments and running a lot of plays for Maggie to get her open beyond the arc?
COACH MCKEOWN:  We tried.  They did a good job switching out on her.  They got in passing lanes.  And that's something that we try to do in transition.  But she's had an incredible year.
And I'll say this, when you know you're trying to get her the ball to shoot and everybody on the other team knows that, she still has been able to get open all year and make shots.  So really proud of her.

Q.  This is the end of your season in this tournament.  You guys are still going to play in the bigger tournament later on.  How do you keep the team's confidence up and let them know that you know you haven't beaten Maryland yet, you can still compete against the best teams in the country and beat them?
COACH MCKEOWN:  That's our whole‑‑ that was our whole thing coming into this weekend and then to beat Rutgers, to get a double bye into the semifinals, to play tonight, had we gotten past Maryland we'd be playing for the championship tomorrow.
These are great steps for our program.  So I want our players to just feed off of that, really all the positives that have happened over the last, I think‑‑ I don't know, we're 9 and 2 in our last 11 games we were 8 and 0.  Our only two losses are to Maryland.
So I think this has been a great experience for us.  I don't think there's a whole lot of negatives that will come out of the Big Ten tournament.
I think we made a lot of fans nationwide, too, when you watched us play against Rutgers and you watched us play tonight.  I feel like going into two weeks from now, we'll be ready to play.  And we gotta heal a little bit.  We've got two great players that are nursing injuries‑‑ they sat out the three, four games.  Christen Inman and Lauren Douglas, we'll get them ready.  This break will probably help us there, get some rest.  Some other people that haven't had opportunities, I think, can help us, too.  We've got to get them.
So I think it's a really good opportunity for us to take some time off and regroup.  Like you saw tonight, these guys will be ready to play.

Q.  How do you crack a defense like Maryland going forward?  They've crossed up your offense a little bit in these two games.  You have to play a caliber of that team if you make it to the second round or Sweet 16 at the NCAA Tournament.
COACH MCKEOWN:  You've got to do couple things.  The teams I've coached that got to the Sweet 16, to the final eight, I've been fortunate enough to coach some great teams in the NCAA Tournament, you have to be able to defend to score.
And I think that's where great teams that advance to the Sweet 16 or beyond, they defend and they're able to score because they stopped the other team.  And that's really important in the tournament, my experience.
So we have the ability to score.  We just gotta get stops and capitalize.  And again it will be fun.  Big Ten has been a great league for us.  We just competed in 20 Big Ten games.  I think everybody in our league that is probably going to advance, they're excited about maybe playing other people, different parts of the country, too.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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