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March 12, 2016

Rodney Terry

Julien Lewis

Cezar Guerrero

Marvelle Harris

Las Vegas, Nevada

Fresno State - 68 San Diego State - 63

THE MODERATOR: Coach, your thoughts on today's game?

HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: Well, first off I said to these guys all the time, I like to give a lot of thanks to God for the opportunity every day to wake us up and give us an opportunity for these guys to play the great game that they love to play and for me to be the coach of this great game that I have a passion for coaching.

Give a lot of credit to Coach Fisher and San Diego State. Really good ball club. They had a fantastic year. They're one of the best defensive teams in the country. We knew coming in it wasn't going to be easy. It was going to be a really, really hard game. They make you fight, scratch and claw for everything you get from an offensive standpoint. I thought we fought, scratched, clawed all the way through defensively ourselves. And it was a great ballgame. Maybe a little bit too good of a ballgame for myself on the sideline and for these guys to be a part of.

Again, a great conference this year in terms of every night you had to compete at a very high level. But again, I give a lot of credit to San Diego State. I'm so happy for these guys up here, because these guys here have been the building blocks of us rebuilding this program. They've been with me, Marvelle four years, Cezar Guerrero has been with me four years, and Julien Lewis three years.

And high-level players. These guys have so much experience and I'm just so happy for them to finish the way they've been able to finish. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, we're still just getting started. We're excited about the Mountain West Championship, we're excited to be in the NCAA tournament, but we've just got started.

Q. You were 0-8 and you hadn't scored 38 and a half minutes and you finished with seven points. Take us through that 3-pointer that you pulled on the transition and the free throws.
JULIEN LEWIS: I know when we was on the defensive end and we had a mismatch. And I was just waiting for I think it was -- I don't remember who threw the ball, but I knew Malik -- they threw the ball to Malik Pope. And JT was trying to front him. I just waited. He threw it, I just went out there and took the ball out from top of his head. And I was going to try to kick it up ahead to him. But Trey Kell was backing up, he was back pedaling toward me. I said, I'm going to take this shot. So when I took the shot and it came out of my hand I knew it was good. I ran back. I'm like, Man, that was unbelievable.

Q. You guys in the second half, it was a back-and-forth affair the whole game. Was there a turning point in the second half where you started to believe you were going to come out with a W?
MARVELLE HARRIS: Yeah, we had to put it on our defense. We had to get stops. They pride themselves on defense, but that's something we do, too. It came down to getting stops. We knew in order to win the game we needed to get stops and we got two big stops when we needed it.

Q. Marvelle, when you came to this program, you were on the bottom. What were your emotions that went through your mind when you realized you had this game and what's going to happen for this team next week?
MARVELLE HARRIS: It was incredible. Greatest feeling I've had in my whole basketball career. It's a big win for the program, community, fans, everyone. And it's just a great feeling. You're overwhelmed and you just kind of -- unbelievable.

Q. How did about you, you transferred in, Bulldogs hadn't been good in a long time. What were you thinking in those final seconds?
CEZAR GUERRERO: Well, it was just overwhelming at first. It was coming to the point that finally, we're going to win. So it was fun to take in because what we've been through as a team and all the ups and downs, we finally got over that hump. And we won the championship and we're heading to the NCAA tournament and that's one of our biggest bucket list things that we crossed off. And we finally get to get a ring and go to the NCAA tournament.

Q. The fact that you not only played San Diego State so tight in the two regular season meetings, won one of those, how valuable was that coming into this game?
MARVELLE HARRIS: Well, we go into every game thinking we can win. We don't go in hoping to win or guessing. So we went in with confidence. And we were confident in ourself. We outplayed them twice, so we knew they knew us. We knew their scouting report, so it was going to come down to players making plays. And I think in the final few minutes that's what happened. We had Julien make a big play. We got defensive stops. As much as it's a scouting report and you've got to know players, I think it came down to making plays.

Q. The shot you made at the end of the first half that gave the Bulldogs the first lead of the game, had you made a longer shot all season?
MARVELLE HARRIS: Probably in practice, not in a game. I just looked up, I seen there was four seconds on the clock, so I knew I had to shoot it. When I shot it it felt good, like Julien said. The shot just felt good and I kind of knew it was going in.

Q. Can you say a few words about Coach Terry? What has he meant to you? All that you've been through since you've been here, from where you came to where you are now. Talk a little bit about what he means to you.
MARVELLE HARRIS: He means a lot. He's a great coach. Like you said, when he came into Fresno State we were at the bottom. And we changed -- he changed this program around a lot, not just with basketball, off-the-court stuff. I think a lot of players came in, they're getting better grades. It's not just about basketball, he teaches us it goes farther than basketball, it's about life, too. We don't just want to be good basketball players, we want to be good men. I think he showed us a lot. And he led by example the whole time I've been here.

Q. Just looking ahead, you've done this drill before, Wilmington and Texas. Just walk us through the next couple of days, what you're going to do and then you don't have much time to prepare for the next one, but how does that process work?
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: It's been a while. It's been five years since myself I've been in an NCAA tournament. And you don't ever take that for granted. And you have an opportunity to win a championship, you never know. Good Lord gives us hopefully an opportunity to be here tomorrow. We don't know, nothing is guaranteed for tomorrow. So you have to live in the moment.

But really excited about the opportunity to be back in postseason play. Coach Wainwright so many years there, and Coach Wainwright really got here my first year with me, we really helped establish the culture we wanted for this program. He left and went to Marquette and went to the dance and Elite 8 himself there while we were over here trying to still build this team.

But to have him here with me on the back end of this right now means so much. And I hadn't cut a net down in a while, it's been a long time. It's bittersweet for me. Really happy for our guys. We were saying today when we came in earlier what a difference five years ago we were finishing up over in New Orleans in the WAC tournament, we won three games. We felt like nobody is walking out losing our last game. And then we were facing a challenge coming into an unbelievable league. And our first year in the league, RPI was No. 1 in the country. We had unbelievable talent in the league.

But we scratch, we claw, we try to build, tried to get better talent. At the end of the day, great players make you a great coach. You can coach all you want, you better have some guys that can make some plays and get some things done at the end of the day. And we were able to do that as a staff, put together a good group of guys, that really bought into our culture and what we're trying to do.

Really proud of the fact that as much as we're going to the NCAA tournament is that we graduate our guys. Our guys have all graduated in our tenure here or been in a position to graduate with the three seniors here, you know. So that's what I'm most proud of, that you're getting a chance, an opportunity to help develop young men.

But to get back to the dance I'm super excited about it. And I said to our guys, we want more, we're just getting started.

Q. What are your doubts on SDSU getting an at-large bid? Do you think it's important for the league for them to get in?
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: I think this league every year should be a multi-bid league. I don't think there's ever a down year or what people want to say. This league is hard every night. You've got to go to some remote places. Coming to Fresno is not a place they're excited to come to. You've got to play in some difficult places, difficult venues. We have great talent in this league, great coaches in this league. One of the best leagues in the country.

I've had a chance to be an assistant 11, 12 years in the Big 12. Our league is as good as the Big 12 every year. I think, again, our league has gotten better, because teams that are perceived to be at the bottom are very competitive. And they make every night a challenge. There are no nights off in our league. I think our league is very deserving every year of at least two or three teams in the tournament.

Q. When Marvelle is sitting up here a couple of minutes ago talking about you turning them all into good men, what was that like for you listening to him say all those things?
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: I get emotional, I don't want to get too emotional about it right now. But I've been blessed to have the opportunity to help these guys grow, not as basketball players, but also as young men and help them understand how important it is to look a person in the eye, have a good hand shake, have your word as your bond and try to be about the right things in life. And one day that basketball is going to stop bouncing, and you've got to have something to fall back on and hopefully live through some of the -- you know, the adversity in basketball. Hopefully you'll be able to apply that in life.

These guys are like my own sons. I don't have any kids myself right now, so these guys every day I live for those guys and I live through those guys, and just to make a difference in their lives is the most important thing for me.

Q. Right as that buzzer was getting ready to go off, you were jumping around, and most excited I've seen you. Can you explain your emotion at that time?
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: I mean, just so happy for these guys, so happy for my staff. My staff, I've got a great staff that works extremely hard. Happy for my guys. Those guys, they bought in. We kept saying from day one that we got here we said, Hey, you know what, we want to win a Mountain West Conference Championship. That's what we're about. I know probably some people didn't believe that. Coach Terry is really crazy, how are they going to do that? That's been our goal. That's been our expectation from day one. We never shied away from that.

We said, Hey, every year we do this to get in the NCAA tournament. To get in you've got to win your league or have a great conference slate. We got guys to buy into that and they bought into our culture. And culture wins this time of year for you. It's no fluke, there's no luck in getting here this time of year. We had the best two teams in our league playing tonight and I think two teams that have really good culture. And culture wins out.

Q. After the San Jose State loss in early February, did you still believe this was a team that could do this?
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: You have to remind me of the San Jose. They did a great job this year, by the way. That's one of our biggest rivals. And we have a great competition between San Jose. We don't disrespect those guys in terms of what they've done and what they're doing right now. Because I look at them similar to where we were four years ago. He's putting together a good freshman class that can compete at a high level.

And the thing we had to do in this league, we had to learn how to compete first and be competitive. And then we had to learn how to win. It's a process. It's hard.

You ask me about the emotion at the end of the game. I thought about all the things we've had to overcome to get to this point right now and it's an unbelievable feeling, and it's taken a lot. But we knew we had to bounce back from San Jose. And what I said to our guys was, first of all, we came back in to practice the next day, we didn't take the day off. We came back and went back to work and said, Hey, guys, we've got enough to get done at a high level, let's come in and believe in what we're doing and let's be a team. We've really bought into being a team in the last month and a half of the season and we played tournament basketball.

Q. You're a team that's been able to play in the 80s and 90s, a team that can score the basketball. You had a chance to play a defensive battle against San Diego State.
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: You don't get a lot of good looks against a really good defensive team. These guys are one of the best in the country. And I thought early in the first half we settled and we needed to settle down a little bit and just kind of execute our things and execute the things that we're trying to do. Against a good defensive team like that you can run a lot of different sets and try to execute things.

At the end of the day, it's down to you making a play or trusting your teammate. And that's the thing I tried to instill in our guys today. Don't try to do it all yourself. Trust your teammate. If things collapse on you, give it to your teammate and let them play a little bit. Trusting our teammates and buying in, and we were able to do it at a high level today.

Q. When you play this team, two really tight games, and make the plays you have to down the stretch to win. How valuable is it today when it gets tight late?
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: I like our matchup with San Diego State, they're a program that I said in the past that we really tried to mirror ourselves after. We said, who do we have to be, or who do we want to have as an identity coming into this league? They've got athleticism, length, they guard, they're well coached. And we tried to do those same type of things, we tried to put on our defense, we tried to go hard and gain some athleticism and length. I like the matchup.

We got to the point we could compete a couple of years ago with San Diego State. We're a confident team right now, coming in, we played as well as anybody in this league. We played as well as anyone in the country down the stretch. So coming into this game we knew we have obviously a very tough challenge ahead, but we were confident coming in. We were going to do it and we were going to attack on our terms and play Bulldog basketball.

Q. Julien was 0-8 up until that shot. Can you talk about the sequence and what was going through your head when you saw him? What was going through your head?
HEAD COACH RODNEY TERRY: Sometimes you've got to let seniors make plays. Sometimes we, as coaches, want to overcoach and not let those guys play. I've really grown a lot this year as a coach and letting my guys play, because I've got older guards who I trust. We're going to run something, we're going to try to execute something, let those guys play a little bit. And we did that today, trusting those guys to make the right decision. And sometimes you've got to get lucky and get some things done. And on this day, you know, things fell our way. And he made a big shot.

But I always say, too, you have to have preparation and you have to be in the right situation for luck to be able to happen for you, and we were able to have that today for us. He makes a shot that he shoots on a regular basis, I might have been over there saying a little bit, no, no, no, no. Great shot. He works on his shooting and it was a big shot for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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