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March 18, 2016

Joe Tartamella

Aliyyah Handford

Danaejah Grant

Waco, Texas

Auburn - 68, St. John's - 57

THE MODERATOR: I'm joined on the by Head Coach Joe Tartamella, student-athletes Danaejah Grant and Aliyyah Handford. We'll start with an opening statement from Coach. After that we'll turn to questions for our student-athletes.

JOE TARTAMELLA: Obviously, for us it's really about being able to celebrate the big picture. But a tough game for us. I thought Auburn did a great job playing their style of play. You give 32 points on turnovers, it's going hurt you in the game.

I thought the first quarter they really affected us to open the game. Other than that I felt we held our own and actually played fairly even. But that first quarter bothered us a little bit. I was really proud of how were able to come back.

We had a number of opportunities to be able to really break through the door. We were able to cut it to three or four and just weren't able to get over the hump. For me, it's more about what this group has accomplished as a whole. When you look at the year, and we wish Auburn the best, and obviously, they played better than us today for 40 minutes, so we wish them the best.

But these two young ladies on my left, I'm usually not as emotional a guy in the locker room or in front of them, but to have these two young ladies done for me is tough, so I'll miss them.

Q. This is for both student-athletes: Being the only seniors on the team, what kind of shape do you think you're leaving the program in for after you?
ALIYYAH HANDFORD: I think we are leaving it in great shape. We both ended our careers in a great way, for the underclassmen just to follow our footsteps.

DANAEJAH GRANT: I believe we've had a tremendous career here. We've been able to accomplish something this year that hasn't been done in 28 years, so for us to leave here on that note, and to be able to sell that to recruits coming in, to be able to have something for the underclassmen to look up to, to try to get back to, it's good for the program and is great for them. It's a great way for us to end our career.

Q. Everyone that got the chance to talk to both of you at the beginning of the season, you guys were unsure of exactly what the prospect would be for how the season would end up going. You were unsure what the wins would be. If the schedule would have an effect on your bodies and minds, even the coach was unsure what the plan was going into later. You had a strong showing far away from home. What takeaway do you have considering this is the last stance?
DANAEJAH GRANT: I would say the biggest takeaway is just anything can be accomplished. We came into this season and we set a goal for ourselves, so we tried to take it one step at a time. Obviously, we didn't end how we wanted to, but everyone in our locker room, everyone here, had given their all all season, and that's what we set for ourselves in the beginning.

ALIYYAH HANDFORD: She said it all.

THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for our student-athletes?

Q. Both of you guys, what has Coach Joe Tartamella meant to you guys on and off the court, and how do you carry that into the next stage of your careers?
DANAEJAH GRANT: Personally he meant a lot to me just giving me the opportunity after I decided to transfer. That was huge for me. And I've done a lot here, with his help, with the team's help. So, you know, I would just say having the opportunity given by him, just to become a better player, to put myself in a great position to be good after college.

ALIYYAH HANDFORD: He meant a lot to me, too. His trust in me -- and since my freshman year, I was a little immature. So, like, he built it up and helped me a lot with that, so, yeah.

THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, ladies.

Q. Coach, you said you got it down to three or four, it was five early in the fourth quarter. You said you couldn't get over the hump. What stopped you all from getting over the hump? Was it something you were doing, something Auburn was doing? What happened there?
JOE TARTAMELLA: 25 turnovers probably attributed to being a part of that. I think even when we were able to get a couple runs, we couldn't sustain it. We would score twice and then we'd turn it over for points. It was kind of like a seesaw where we couldn't really gain momentum over time.

We've been able to go on 8-0, 10-0 runs.

When you look at Auburn's team, they score 68, which might be like a high for them, but they play in the 50s and we have done that also. We gave them half their points on turnovers. They executed the way that they played better than we did.

I think when they were making those runs, we weren't able to sustain it. Either we put somebody on the line or gave up a rotation that shouldn't have happened or we turned it over, quite frankly. 25 turnovers for us has been pretty high. I think when you look at our assists when we've been successful, it's been better than we've been all of my time here, we're still probably fourth in the conference.

Eleven assists, we've been 15-plus in a lot of the games we have won. We didn't move the ball enough after being pressured to be able to attack. Part of that was the first quarter. We knew they were they were going to come out swinging. We also missed a couple of timely free throws that could have helped us, but that's been the story for us. We've been able to overcome that.

We want to make more three throws than the other team takes. We didn't do that today; that hurt us. We need to manufacture points, special situations, based on out-of-bounds plays that we do a great job on. They scored, I felt they were back-breakers on us. One possession we gave them four chances. You look at it, it could be many things.

And we struggled scoring the ball. We had some atypical performances tonight. I think that's the right word.

Q. Aliyyah and Danaejah have left a strong imprint on this program. How do you think it could lead the team going forward?
JOE TARTAMELLA: You asked me about their leadership? We talk all of the time. Leadership never graduates. So, their imprint, their footprint will always be felt. We call those traditions and things that we do throughout our program over time that have been brought to us by a number of different players, and, you know, I think their leadership as far as toughness, as far as obviously ability and work ethic are there. They'll be missed more than they'll ever know, especially for me, like I said.

You know, but their leadership, it may not be in words, it may be in how they play, and the toughness that they bring, the confidence that they give to others and now it's their turn to have to step into the light and be able to take on the things that Aliyyah and Danaejah have been able to do for us over the last few seasons.

THE MODERATOR: Any more questions for Coach? All right. Thanks, Coach. Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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