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March 5, 2016

Cori Close

Monique Billings

Jordin Canada

Seattle, Washington

UCLA - 73, Cal - 67

THE MODERATOR: All right. UCLA Bruins, Coach Cori Close, Monique Billings, and Jordin Canada. Coach, an opening statement?

CORI CLOSE: I don't know what to say. I know that I think Cal's a really good basketball team. This conference is amazing. I thought Lindsay and her staff did an excellent job preparing her team, especially the third game in three days for them. So all the credit to them. They gave us everything they had. And at the same time, I can tell you at the beginning of the game, we were down 14, by looking at Jordin Canada's eyes that it was going to come around. I really was never worried. I know that young lady. I know how she leads and I know how she is in big moments, and she just wouldn't let us. She had the thought that we'd find a way to win.

Monique Billings has just put in the work. You know, we always say we're not born for this, we're built for this. We have trained hard. We played a Top 10 schedule in the country. We've been through about every style of play you can imagine. And they have chosen to be people of character that are willing to do the hard things and make the uncommon choices. I do think that was the difference in the game. Couldn't be more proud of the character of our team and the heart that they showed.

Q. It took Kari Korver to hit a ridiculous three to save your bacon.
CORI CLOSE: Yes. Well, I think it's interesting, actually. Just before I walked down here, Coach Shannon was talking to me about a conversation that she and Kari Korver had yesterday about how do you handle that and just your frame of mind, and where does she need to fix her eyes to make sure she's confident coming into the game today? And, you know, she didn't even shoot that well the rest of the game. It's just that one big shot. I loved -- I mean, that kid puts in more time. I mean, she had a basketball hoop at her house named "the scholarship." That was the name of the hoop, the scholarship. She's been putting in the work. And her teammates never doubted her. As soon as we called that play, you should have seen in the huddle, all their heads were like, yeah, yeah, we'll get her the shot. We've got it. And she hit that shot in a really big moment. But I love the confidence you had to fight for. When I think she was 0 for 8 in the last few days, and you've got to fight to keep your mind right for that. And what was it? 0 for 12, excuse me. Sorry. 0 for 12. I'm not a numbers girl. I was a sociology major. But bottom line, I love the confidence she showed to come up for 0 for 12 and to have the biggest shots posted into overtime. Then I knew the momentum was ours and we could play the tempo we wanted to play.

Q. Cori, when the buzzer sounded, you took a deep breath and you wiped the sweat off your brow. You said you didn't worry at any point because you have Jordin on your team. But what was going through your mind right then?
CORI CLOSE: I didn't worry that we were going to come back and do great things. But I was still a nervous wreck the entire time. But really, I mean, this is fun. I just think our conference is so fun. It's one thing to have the number one RPI conference in the country, but it's another thing to prove it in a conference tournament like this. The different lower seeds that have had huge wins and obviously Cal the biggest in their run. It just proves how phenomenally deep this conference is. But as a coach, you sort of lose -- you don't really have much control in these games. We always tell our players there are no X's and O's. There is not the perfect play that's going to get called. It's really me trusting that you're going to go make plays, and sometimes that's really nerve-racking.

Q. You came from Florida State back east and said that this is the best conference in the country. I think most people in this room would agree. But a lot of games are played when a lot of people are asleep back east. Do you worry at all that come NCAA Tournament time that people are not going to respect the conference?
CORI CLOSE: Well, I sure hope that our body of work this year and the work we've done to publicize being the number one conference in the country. I trust our committee. I trust the NCAA selection committee isn`t going to sleep when all the PAC-12 games are going on. I trust that the NCAA committee is doing their homework. I think they're going to go by the traditions of what the NCAA Tournament committee has honored through the years. You have to honor by volume and by seeding the body of work that this conference has done. I think some ignorant fans on the East Coast who maybe go to sleep early don't know how good this conference is. But I do trust that the committee has done their homework and it will all play out the way it should.

Q. Jordin and Monique, will you guys take me through your mindset when you're down by 14 when Kari hits that shot and you're in overtime?
JORDIN CANADA: Me, I knew my team wasn't going to back down. It wasn't anything new. The same thing happened when we played Cal the first time at their place and we battled back. I wasn't worried when we were down by 14. When Kari hit that shot to send it into overtime, I even told her before the game and even in the Arizona game that one was going to fall, and I just told her to keep shooting. Korver has the magic touch. I knew that was just that one three that she hit to send us into overtime. And then in overtime, I knew we had the momentum and I knew we were going to win this game, and I'm just proud of my team.

MONIQUE BILLINGS: Yeah, I agree with Jordin. We've been there before, being down by 14 or however much. We didn't let that phase us, and we just had to keep chipping away at their lead. When Kari hit that shot, I think that just sparked so much energy into our team and brought so much life back into the game. I think that really pushed our momentum in the fourth quarter which allowed us to finish with the win.

Q. Monique, Kristine is so good on the block and you did a good job against her. What's it like to go against her, and in the end did you feel like she was exhausted and talk about capitalizing on that?
MONIQUE BILLINGS: Yeah, I definitely respect her game. She was a volleyer for sure. And I noticed she was kind of tired so I thought I would capitalize on that. I tried to get into her body and lean on her as much as I can and just moving my feet, staying active.

Q. Sorry to take away from this dramatic win. But we need some stuff on tomorrow on the title game. You don't know who you're playing, but what do you think the keys might be against each team?
CORI CLOSE: We've played them both recently. We played Washington a couple weeks ago down at our place, and obviously we played Oregon State just two weeks ago on their Senior Night. So they're both very different. Obviously we want that tempo to be up-and-down both ways, but I think that Oregon State can do that. They have a lot of depth as well. We've struggled with just our inside game. That was the biggest challenge for us, especially in the second half. I think that was the first half we didn't have Kacy Swain, she got hurt right before halftime. So I think we're better adjusted. I think Monique's more adjusted. Kacy Swain had gotten the hardest defensive post assignment all year long, so we've had some time now to adjust to that, and I think we'll be more ready. It's just the opposite. It's all about really forcing one hard shot with Washington, getting it out of the big three's hands. I know both teams have big threes, but I think it's a little bit different style with Washington. It's just going to be really important that we make all of their catches difficult, and we have to run. I thought that was a huge key down at our place that we started to get stops out of our zone defense, and we were able to run. I thought they wore down late in the fourth quarter.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
JORDIN CANADA: Yes, I would say me, but it was more so Kacy, but we'd both switch off on her. Yeah, it was both of us.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
JORDIN CANADA: Yeah, actually, I don't know. She reminds me of Kristine kind of. She really knows how to use her body. Can't let her get low to the paint because that's an easy two buckets. So I have to keep moving my feet, and keep an arm bar and, yeah.

Q. What about the guards of Washington and Oregon State?
JORDIN CANADA: Washington, Kelsey Plum, respect her game so much, and I've played against her many times in high school. You have to respect her game and try to limit her touches as much as possible, and try to pressure her as much as possible. Yeah, Oregon State, they also have great guards that can create for themselves and they really know how to play well off each other. So it's also maintaining that pressure and using our defense against them.

Q. Jordin, I was curious, I believe Char said yesterday she thinks Kelsey is the best one-on-one player in the conference. Obviously, Jamie Weisner was the player of the year in the conference. You're one of the best defenders in the conference. Who is tougher to guard?
JORDIN CANADA: That's a hard question. Both of them are hard to guard. Kelsey and Jamie, they can create for themselves. This is really difficult to try to keep them in front, but trusting my principles, my defense, and knowing who I am and just playing personnel, I just try to do the best that I can.

Q. (Indiscernible)?
CORI CLOSE: Well, I think they're just really different styles. I think that Weisner does so much more in terms of post ups, offensive rebounds, those kinds of things. I think Kelsey relies, even though Weisner has a really high shooting percentage from the three-point land, she doesn't have as many threes per game that she's relying on. They just play such different styles, it's hard to compare. For us, we probably match up easier, we can have multiple people that matches up better with us to go against Kelsey Plum. But that's because of how our style is and the guards that I have. I think Weisner`s a little bit harder match-up for us. Do we go big and not play three guards? Because we play three guards most of the time so that we match-up on our post-up. That's how she hurt us in the second game was that post-up situation. So it's such different styles, it's hard to compare. I think because of who we are, Kelsey Plum's probably a better match-up for us.

I want to say thank you to all of you for covering our great sport. It's going to be a great game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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