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March 16, 2016

Bill Carmody

Anthony Thompson

Robert Champion

Dayton, Ohio

Holy Cross - 59, Southern - 55

THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by the head coach of Holy Cross, Bill Carmody, and student-athletes Anthony Thompson and Robert Champion. Coach, an opening statement.

BILL CARMODY: Well, we started out like gang busters and had a nice lead. But Southern didn't quit and they started finding, probably in the last six minutes or so of the first half, they started getting their rhythm. And very close at halftime. And the second half, we just went back and forth. I didn't think, you know, we were playing particularly well. And they had something to do with that.

And I told our guys, you know, during the timeout and definitely just now, after the game, that I didn't feel like I could help them or the staff could help them, almost, on the bench, because we didn't seem that energized. And you have to play. They were trapping at different places. And we turned the ball over for run-outs probably three or four times. And we expected it and still they were good enough to take advantage of us. And so it just comes down to the last minute. And we've won five games now in a row and four of them came down to the last play, literally. And so we're fortunate. But the guys figured out how to do it and just really proud of them, because on their own they just hung in there, hung in there, hung in there. And we were missing shots all night long. And then when we had to make them Cullen hit a baseline shot and we were down four or five. Then Karl hit one and Rob hit one or two and they all made their foul shots at the end. I wish they would make them during the game, but they did make them when we really needed them. So it was just a nice team effort when Southern. They took us out of what we do.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Robert and Anthony.

Q. (Question off microphone) What does this mean for the school program?
ROBERT CHAMPION: I think it means a lot, we knew coming in that we had won a NCAA Tournament game since whenever it's been. But the main thing we want to do is show people what we're about, what our team's about, and represent Holy Cross in a way we thought would be positive, win or loss. So I think we came out and did that today. We showed fight. There were times I think that we could have caved, and I don't -- I think that we hung tough and I think we've hung tough in the Patriot League tournament and I think we hung tough tonight. And I'm just really proud that we were able to do that.

Q. What was it like to step up there, they got that review and got the ball back and hit the 3 that tied it. What was it like -- what's it feel like to stroke a 3 like that to put your team ahead in the NCAA Tournament?
ROBERT CHAMPION: I mean, it's a dream come true. Everybody dreams of making that shot. But the 3 was set up way before I even took it. Malachi made a great play to get me open. And it was just a practice shot.

Q. A what?
ROBERT CHAMPION: Practice shot.

Q. Anthony, Coach talked a little bit about the end of the game there, that last minute. But could you talk about it and just what was going on out there and how you guys hung in to hold them off?
ANTHONY THOMPSON: We told the guys, just keep your composure, don't turn the ball over. If you hold them to the ball we'll win the game. We were able to hit our free throws -- Rob, Cullen, Karl all hit big free throws and we were able to pull it out.

Q. Have you given thought to what's next for you guys?
ROBERT CHAMPION: I think we're enjoying it right now. You know, I think we're still going to try to take it one step at a time. Obviously we know Oregon is going to be the team we play in Spokane. But I think everybody's enjoying it. We're going to hop on a plane here right after this head out to Spokane. And I'm sure maybe shoot-around tomorrow, something like that, and go over their personnel. But I think we're just taking it one step at a time and just enjoying the ride.

Q. For both of you players, maybe sounds like a stupid question, but did you all pack for a weekend? When you got ready for this trip?
ROBERT CHAMPION: Yeah, you know, I think if you don't pack for a weekend that kind of sends the wrong message. I'm sure every team packs for a weekend and nobody wants to lose.

BILL CARMODY: Jinx, don't want to jinx it. So I'll be wearing this tomorrow and the rest --

ROBERT CHAMPION: Personally packed for the weekend.

ANTHONY THOMPSON: We packed for the weekend we were confident we would come out here win a game so we did pack for the whole weekend.

Q. Robert, in the first half it seemed like you were in good control. Did you feel that and what happened?
ROBERT CHAMPION: Yeah, definitely. We jumped out to a nice lead. I thought we were controlling the game on the defensive end. And I felt like our defense was pretty good throughout the whole game. I think it goes back to what Coach said: When they started to get back into it we were making mistakes on offense. They were causing our mistakes and took us out a lot of our stuff, and that's the reason they were able to make a run and end up taking a lead in the second half. Again it goes back to our toughness mentally to not cave and stick to our guts and come out with the win.

Q. Do you agree with your Coach, though, that you were all -- what was the energy like out there, I guess? Did you feel in a little bit of a malaise at some point?
ROBERT CHAMPION: Yeah, there was just a time where they were making their run. You kind of get down on yourself, you start to question things. But I think like Ant said, we told each other there's a lot of game left, just calm down, focus on getting stops, focus on getting the play in front of you. I think that's the key, that's been the key for us throughout this run in March, is just to focus on the play in front of you, take it one step at a time and that's what we did.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Bill, what would you say this win means for Holy Cross basketball?
BILL CARMODY: I think it's fantastic. I think it's everything that we're trying to do at Holy Cross. Father Boroughs, our president, is here tonight. Nate Pine, our athletic director, and a lot of alums. And we're trying to jump-start this program, because we recognize what an athletic program can do to a school. And this is a real, it's a great first step, a great first step. And it's also good for the city of Worcester, because it needs some help, like a lot of cities in the Northeast and across the Rust Belt and all that. So I just think it's just terrific for everything, recruiting, of course, and the small picture, that's going to help us a little bit. And the big picture, it's great for the school and the program.

Q. You were 14-19 coming in here. Does this first round game give you a chance to get a win? I'm not saying, Oregon obviously is going to be favored, but do you see the opportunity that the first round presents to some teams?
BILL CARMODY: You mean tonight?

Q. Yeah. These four games here.
BILL CARMODY: Yeah, we got a win. Yeah, it's great. Call it the First Four. So that's terrific. I mean, we got a win. And I remember when there was I guess 52 teams or something and we got in -- they tried to move it to 56 and there was a play-in game. This is I think in the early '80s or mid- '80s, and we got a win. And we went out to Corvallis and got a win against the Big 12 champ, Oklahoma State. So things can happen that can surprise you, but it's great because you saw two good teams. They were playing very well. And we've been playing very well. So if you're in the tournament, for the most part, your team is at a high level.

Q. Quick question on the momentum of the game. Did their zone confuse you at all? You had some shot clock violations.
BILL CARMODY: Yeah, I mean, we had different guys in there. And it was, like, we just happened to sub and there were, like, three guys that weren't starters in there. Not that that's an excuse. They should know what to do. But there certainly was some hesitation. What they were doing, they were playing zone for two passes and then going man-to-man, and it sort of threw us. And so it was good coaching on their part.

Q. Also your zone seemed to give them problems. They had to shoot over but finally they started hitting some 3s. I think they were 0-for-11, 0-for-12 to start, but their 3s gave them new life, right? Were you kind of -- I don't know, wondering whether they would get hot?
BILL CARMODY: It's funny, usually some teams hit a few early on and then they wear down. But these guys, it was just the opposite with Southern. They seemed like, like you said, they heated up afterwards. And they were scoring inside on us a lot on second shots, and they throwing the ball up just on the block there and trying stuff and sort of collapsing us a little bit. And this is a good 3-point shooting team. You had guys shooting 38, 36, 30 -- and so we were aware of that. But they came through it. Like I said, they're a good team and they were playing well to this point and we were fortunate at the end.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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