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March 18, 2016

Te'a Cooper

Mercedes Russell

Holly Warlick

Tempe, Arizona

Tennessee - 59, Green Bay - 53

COACH WARLICK: Just I can't say enough of what kind of team Green Bay is. They are a very well-coached team, very disciplined, and it was a tough game. We knew it would be a tough game. But I thought our young ladies stood the course. We didn't panic. We stayed solid.

I thought Te'a Cooper had one of her best games. Mercedes Russell had one of her best games. She wanted the ball. She demanded the ball, and when we needed to get stops, we did. Our defense was really, really solid and we played smart.

Gosh, just proud of our effort and proud of the win today.

Q. Can you talk about your emotions were, your first NCAA Tournament game and having the kind of performance that you had tonight?
TE'A COOPER: I was really ready to play. I think I prepared well with Coach Holly and with Dean with the scout report and watching film before the game. So I was ready and focused and I was in tune.

Q. This was the type of game that could have gotten away from you guys, because it was a struggle playing against a team that executes as well as they did. Can you just talk about the mind-set, it never seemed like even when things weren't going well, that you guys let yourself get rattled tonight.
MERCEDES RUSSELL: I think we knew we just had to stay composed no matter what happened, and then on the defensive end, we had to get really big stops, every time they came down the court. And then on the offensive side, we just had to convert and execute in our plays.

TE'A COOPER: I think we were prepared because we've been in this situation before and we obviously didn't want to be on the other end this time.

Q. Their defense, it almost seems like they are almost connected the way they spread out and they just try to completely take the paint away from you. Can you talk about how you guys dealt with that, and then eventually were able to break through to get a couple really big plays in the fourth quarter?
COACH WARLICK: Yeah, if you look at it, it's almost a 2-3 zone. I can't speak for them but I thought their goal was to get us to shoot, obviously from the outside, and quick-shoot the basketball. I thought the first quarter, we did just that.

But here's the difference in the zone and man. They are off, and then when we got the ball, they came up and defended us. So we knew we had to move the ball. I thought at the beginning of the game, we stood a lot and then we adjusted.

I thought Mercedes and Bashaara, when we did take a little bit of ill-advised shots, they got great rebounds. And I thought Te'a was -- we wanted to treat it a little bit like the zone and we wanted to penetrate in gaps, and I think once we settled down and we started penetrating, we kicked a little bit and got some really good looks.

But you know, for us to shoot, gosh, I don't know what the first quarter was, but I think we had attempted eight 3s. That's not our game. But once we settled in and decided where we needed to go, we were a lot better. But yeah, they are solid. They make you have to think and they switched up a little bit, so I thought we finally adjusted.

Q. There was a period where there were seven or eight lead changes, and then they go six minutes and something without scoring. How much of that was your defense and how much was them missing shots? What happened in that period?
COACH WARLICK: I hope it had something to do with our defense, but I'm sure fatigue was a factor, too. You look at it, and they had 11 turnovers and we had ten turnovers. So it was -- I thought it was -- I thought we both got good looks. Just down the stretch we attacked the basket. Te'a attacked the basket and got one; Mercedes got a rebound, and then we did, we got stops. We said we can't keep switching baskets with them. We've got to get stops.

They miss a couple of layups. A little nervous, though. We gave up two offensive rebounds in a row and that makes your blood pressure go up a little bit. But I think when it came down to it, we got stops when we needed to.

Q. Having not seen your team play before, Cooper looks like, she sort of took control of the game thorough much of that and she's a freshman, so what can you say about her?
COACH WARLICK: I think Te'a, she's had the opportunity to play a lot, and I think at times, we've thrown a lot at her with our system, and I think since right before the SEC Tournament, we kind of narrowed her package down. Because she's a creator, and if I don't allow her to do that, that's taking away part of the best part of her game. So I limited her package to keep her within her game.

And one thing that Te'a Cooper does that is outstanding for us is she is a great on-ball defender, and we needed her pressure, and we talked a lot about that today; that she could get up, bring pressure, and she can change the outfit, the outcome of the game. And I thought towards the end, I think she was on the ball -- or was it Andraya.

But our defense, getting up and pressuring, finally made a difference, and it started with Te'a. And she was aggressive and she played under control. I think during the season at times, she would play a little bit out of control. But high school to college, it is difficult, and I think just right now, she's understanding what she can and can't do.

Q. I know it was a tough game for Bashaara in terms of they were bottling her up. But she had one of the bigger plays I think there in the fourth quarter when she was finally able to get free a little bit and go to the basket. Being a senior, can you talk about that one basket, that to me was a big play in this game?
COACH WARLICK: I loved Bashaara today because in the past, I think her play and what people did to her would frustrate her, and I didn't think Bashaara got frustrated today. She was very positive in the huddle, positive with her teammates, and she didn't force things.

I think she did -- she did shoot like over the goal, and that's kind of uncharacteristic of her. But I thought when we needed her to get a rebound, and we needed to drive and get a bucket, she did.

Really proud of her composure. She's a senior, so obviously she's going to feel a little pressure. But I think that this team understands what Bashaara has meant to this program and I think they want to have her back, and I thought they did today.

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