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March 8, 2015

Jim Flanery

Sydney Lamberty

Brianna Rollerson


St. John's – 57
Creighton - 54

COACH FLANERY:  This feels a lot like this year at this time where we‑‑ St.John's has ended essentially our season three of the last four years, NCAA Tournament, and twice here in the conference tournament, all by one possession.  You know, it was a struggle to score today.  Obviously Sydney had, I thought, really a terrific first half and played really well, and Bree kind of kept us in the game a little bit the second half, but we struggled to score, and the big thing was we didn't rebound in the second half.  I mean, we gave up way too many offensive boards.  We had 20 defensive boards to their 15 offensive boards, and that's 57 percent, I guess, on our defensive glass, and we're usually over 70.
Those extra three, four, five offensive rebounds that they got probably made the difference, and it helped them get to the foul line.
You know, they're tough to score against.  What we did defensively was very similar to what we did in New York in terms of giving lots and lots of help off of Grant and Handford and was effective in a lot of ways.  We held Handford to 4 of 14 and Grant to 5 of 16.  Like I said, we didn't clean up the glass, and that was probably our undoing.

Q.  How frustrating is it when you play out these long possessions, get stops, and then they come up with the ball and get a put‑back?
SYDNEY LAMBERTY:  I mean, we came into the game knowing we needed the backs on rebound, and I guess it's frustrating knowing we needed to do that and we didn't.
BRIANNA ROLLERSON:  Yeah, I think we thought about rebounding, and we tried, but I think sometimes you just didn't try hard enough, and I think that's what really hurt us.

Q.  Sydney, you came out guns blazing in the first half.  What was your mindset coming and playing your first survive‑and‑advance game as a freshman?  What were you thinking?
SYDNEY LAMBERTY:  I was really nervous at first, but I was also really excited, and I guess‑‑ I don't know, it was just a cool experience.

Q.  Bree, when Sydney is going like that in the first half, what does that do for your offense when you get that‑‑ get one player clicking early against a team that's really hard to score against like St.John's?
BRIANNA ROLLERSON:  I think it really motivates us, gets all of us going.  It gives us someone to look to and someone to play through.

Q.  Coach, I don't know how much attention you pay to points off turnovers, especially in the second half it seemed like a big difference for them.  How important was it, those plays where Tartamella manufactured points to kind of make the difference?
COACH FLANERY:  Yeah, they were big.  They were struggling to score as much as we were.  I think Matt Fritsche I had the scout, and he said first to 60 would win, and if we got to 60, he felt like we'd win, and if we had, we would have won.
Those were big.  I mean, you tell your kids that the hidden ways to score are transition, a lot of times off turnovers, offensive rebounding, which we got beat.  We gave up about the same in second chance points, but the second half, that was a huge issue for us.  And then the third area, the hidden points area, is free throws, and we got out scored by nine at the foul line.  You know, and that was probably the key.
But we had too many turnovers.  You look at Sid's line of eight assists and no turnovers, the rest of our team only had six assists, and I thought we were just‑‑ part of it's nerves, part of it's how good St.John's is defensively, but we just weren't as solid with the ball, just in terms of‑‑ it's one thing to have 14 turnovers, but we didn't connect passes well enough to get good shots, which is hard against them because of how they defend.  But you've still got to do it, and then the third time we play them, I felt like we'd be a little bit better.  But we weren't, and you know, we had opportunities, five, seven minutes into that second half where 'Ris had a three, a great look at a three that would have put us up 10, and in a game like this, that would have been huge.  But they fought back, like you said, with some points off turnovers.  You know, those are big.
I talked about‑‑ one of the things I wrote on the board before the game is‑‑ one of our defensive keys was to run good offense because we couldn't afford the turnover in the transition opportunities, so that certainly bit us in the second half, as well.

Q.  Coach, you got a look and then you ended up getting just a two‑point basket.  Your thoughts on the final sequence there?
COACH FLANERY:  Well, if you thought my thoughts on the last sequence, we got a great shot.  We hadn't run that before, but the idea was to run a hand off with Marissa and set a flare.  Lauren was supposed to set a flare for Sydney and Marissa couldn't get it on the hand off so MC came and got it, and we got a great look by our kid who had the best game.  You can't complain about that.  Certainly the game wasn't won or lost there.  It was lost before that.
Lauren had a wide‑open three and Lauren has probably been our last shooter over the last month.  She had a wide‑open three that would have put us up two, I think, at about the two‑minute mark.  So we had‑‑ you know, we scored enough down the stretch.  I felt like in the last few minutes, we were fine on offense, just like I said, we didn't finish possession.  We gave them second‑chance opportunities.  But yeah, you can't ask for a better look than the one we got.

Q.  How bright is your future when you have some of the talent that you have coming back next year?
COACH FLANERY:  Yeah, I mean, we're excited.  I told our team in the locker room, I'm proud of how far they've come this year and how much a lot of our players have improved from last March to this March, but also just even from October to now and even January to now, and I think that's exciting.  I told them we have a group that comes in every day and works to get better and they're fun to coach because they have that‑‑ you know, they don't feel sorry for themselves when you're‑‑ I haven't coached that kind of team a lot, I don't think.  But I just appreciate the fact that they come and they try to get better, and you're right, we start two sophomores and a freshman and play some freshmen off the bench.  I mean, to only have one senior and one junior who plays a lot, I definitely think that it'll take me a while to get excited for next year, but we will be.  I think that we'll have a great opportunity to have a really good/special year next year hopefully.

Q.  You talked about the things you didn't do in the second half, but as well as you were playing in the first, do you think you kind of missed some opportunities to kind of extend the lead a little bit even though you don't expect to be up that much against this kind of team?
COACH FLANERY:  Yeah, it was one of those, I felt like with how well Syd played, you can always look at it two ways.  I felt like, one, we were lucky Syd played that well because we had a lot of other people that didn't who were really searching to make plays, positive plays offensively, but on the flipside, you think, okay, if Marissa and Bree and Lex had been a little bit better offensively in the first half, we maybe are up 10 or 12 or 14.  So in some ways we didn't capitalize on how good Syd was because those three kids who can score it for us kind of struggled that first half.
But again, a big part of that is their defense.  But the other issue was, you know, Lex had three at half and MC and 'Ris got to the half, Marissa got to the half with two fouls, which was good, because MC and Marissa both had two fairly early, so that was‑‑ I thought that was a positive that we got to the half with only one of those three, getting to three fouls.  Because at the 10‑minute mark, and I can't remember when Lex got her second, but MC and 'Ris had two with probably 11 minutes to go, and they were able to play out the rest of the half without getting a third.
But you're right, everybody is going to focus on the last couple minutes and what happened, but it's a 40‑minute game, and there were certainly possessions that‑‑ last year we lost to them in double overtime, and they hit a half‑court shot at the end of the first half.  That's three points that you're probably not going to get too often, and at the end of regulation if they don't have that, we win by three.
It's a combination of we weren't quite good enough, and they were‑‑ we'd have been fortunate to win, but I feel like they were fortunate to win, too, because I think we're very evenly matched teams, and anybody who's seen us play the last few years would tell you that, but we've been on the short end of the stick in the conference tournament, which hurts.  You know, it hurts.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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