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March 4, 2016

Cori Close

Monique Billings

Nirra Fields

Seattle, Washington

UCLA - 72, Arizona - 51

THE MODERATOR: We have Coach Cori Close, Nirra Fields and Monique Billings. Coach, I'll let you begin.

CORI CLOSE: Well, first of all, I want to say that it's a really bittersweet end giving Niya sort of her last hug as she goes off the court. I just have so much respect for her. In my mind, she's a lot of what's good about still coaching college basketball. She truly puts the character and the growth of the student-athlete above everything else. I think she's always been so committed to grow young women through this process, and I think she's just a tremendous person. I thank you for her contributions to the Pac-12. I have a lot of respect for her and her staff, and I really wish her the best. I'm going to miss having her in the Pac-12.

Obviously, I just think it was a very work-woman's approach today in the scheme. I told our team in the locker room, you put your hard hats on and you say, hey, I'm committed to excellence. It's not a faucet you turn on and off. You just say, hey, I'm going to prepare, I'm going to be better today, and it was a very business-like approach. I like the habits that they're forming and the way they prepare. That's been a really consistent strength of ours. So we get a chance to prepare again. I'm proud to coach this team. I like where they're at emotionally and mentally. And we're just going to keep enjoying the process.

Q. Coach Close, you mentioned the last hug with Coach Butts. What did you tell her?
CORI CLOSE: How much I respect her, and I'm going to miss her and that she had an impact on me as a person and as a coach. I think she knows. We've communicated pretty consistently. Just I just told her how much I deeply respect who she is, and just that she's had an impact on me.

Q. Again, you were saying on Tuesday that confidence is not given, it's something that's earned and you guys are playing very well as of late, especially on the defensive end of things. What have you seen from your team on that end of the floor?
CORI CLOSE: Well, I think that we obviously have some early explosive offensive players. But anybody who does their homework about teams that play well in March, they control it with defense and rebounding, and in our case, passion plays. I think that they really bought in. I think earlier on in the season we were sort of scoring so prolifically that it was easy to go, oh, we'll just outscore you, we'll outshoot you. But the reality is I think we kept saying this is not going to last. You've got to grind it out. You've got to learn how to get consecutive stops. So we started charting in games how many consecutive stops we could get in a row, and started getting feedback on that, and started getting more pride and getting stop after stop. And we want to run. If you want to play a certain style on offense, you've really got to commit on the defensive end. I just think as the year's gone on, week by week, we've gotten more and more bought in to getting stops first and controlling rebounds first, and we can play the way we want to play on offense.

Q. Monique, you finished with 18 points tonight. What kind of challenges did Arizona provide in the post and how did you respond?
MONIQUE BILLINGS: I think that their posts are very active, they're very agile. Their game is actually similar to mine, so it's tough playing against someone like myself. So I just had to close strong, and I think the guards did really, really well. Yeah, they're just looking for me.

Q. Nirra and Monique, going up against Cal and you guys split, I want to ask you about that double overtime marathon you guys played. What do you remember about that game, and considering the way that Cal has been playing, I imagine it's going to be a hard-fought battle on Saturday?
MONIQUE BILLINGS: That was an intense game. That was a really intense game. That was a long time ago, but it was definitely just we matched up well with them I would say. They have good guards. So I think we're excited and just ready.

NIRRA FIELDS: Obviously it was earlier in the season, we were still learning a lot, we were still learning offense. So (no audio).

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