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March 20, 2016

Mike Brey

Zach Auguste

V.J. Beachem

Rex Pflueger

Brooklyn, New York

Notre Dame - 76, Stephen F. Austin - 75

MIKE BREY: Are you kidding me? Are you freakin' kidding me? That was unbelievable. God, that was fun. Certainly, I'm very proud of our group because it didn't look very good for us.

But I think both nights here, Friday and Sunday, we showed some great character to kind of believe we could finish it, and we did.

So Stephen F. Austin is fabulous, and they're so well coached. They're just a heck of a team. We beat a really good team today.

Q. Zach, last year you guys took Kentucky to the final seconds and got a lot of kudos for the way you did that. Is it a little strange kind of being on almost the exact opposite here today? I mean, you were the guys that were being forced to the last second, and you guys wound up winning. Is that a little surreal in a way to be on both ends of it?
ZACH AUGUSTE: Yeah, it's an amazing experience. It's been great. It's a little scary ending, but we pulled it out at the end and executed and doing what we had to do.

Q. Did you ever think your first bucket, Rex, would be to send you guys to the Sweet 16 like that? Pretty good timing.
REX PFLUEGER: I didn't expect that to be honest. I just crashed the board. I thought Zach was going to make that last layup, but Coach always emphasizes going to the board hard, especially in situations like that, and it just turned out for the best for us.

Q. Rex, have you ever had that sort of dream that most kids have of making the shot in the big game? And if so, was it a tip in?
REX PFLUEGER: Yeah, I've definitely had that dream, but I didn't expect it to be a tip in. I actually had a similar experience where I missed it in my high school career, and I always wish I got that back. So now that this has happened, it's made up for it.

Q. Rex, just describe the feeling of tipping in the game-winning basket in an NCAA game.
REX PFLUEGER: Can't really explain it because it still hasn't hit me. It will probably hit me tomorrow sometime. But it's been great. It wasn't just one play that won us the game. I think it was an overall effort, rebounding, hustling, and it was just, like I said, overall impact of my whole team.

Q. Guys, you guys are down five late. What's going through your minds at that point?
V.J. BEACHEM: You know, we feel like we can win any game no matter what situation we're in. We've been in games when we've been down 20, down 15 late in the second half, and we just always feel like we can win the game. So we were down 5, but we felt like we were going to find a way to pull through.

ZACH AUGUSTE: Definitely, I agree. It's really game situations. We emphasize that a lot in practice, and really it came down to what team could execute to win the game, and we stepped up and did that.

REX PFLUEGER: Just to reiterate what these guys said. We have a bunch of in-game situations in practice, and I think that prepared us for the last two minutes.

Q. Rex, if I can just follow that, the shot that you didn't make in high school, what kind of shot was it? Was it a championship game? Just to fill us in.
REX PFLUEGER: It was a semifinal in the CIF. It was a tip in too, same exact kind of situation that I missed it, and we ended up losing that game. So it was nice to get that one.

Q. Mike, just follow up what I asked Zach. Last year in March, you had to walk over to Coach Cal and shake his hand while your heart was breaking, no doubt, knowing how much your kids had fought. Almost the opposite here. Can you just talk about your perspective on both those games.
MIKE BREY: You're right. That's how it ended for us. You're so proud of your group, but when you coach and play in games like this, when you coach in games like this, it's exhausting. I mean that in a very positive way. You're really into it.

So I'm really proud of our group because we could have found ways not to figure it out, but this group's really kind of had an interesting vibe about them. There's some real mental toughness with them that we benefited from.

Q. Coach, how long do you relish this victory before you start looking forward to the next game?
MIKE BREY: I'm going to enjoy it for a while. We don't really play until Friday. I'm going to really enjoy this. We have plenty of time to prepare now that we don't play until Friday.

Both games here were great games, hard fought games, great for ratings, but I hope our group has come out really confident. We have found ways to win two tough ones, and something you want to just keep riding this time of year.

Q. When you have local guys like Farrell and Steve Vasturia, local guys, people are asking for tickets from home. How difficult does it make it on the kids?
MIKE BREY: You know, those two guys are pretty mature. I think they handle that with grace and understand. Steve's a veteran, and Matty's two years in the program. If it was a freshman going back home, I'd be a little worried about that. Those guys will be excited to be in Philly. We're working the I-95. It was the ACC Tournament, and we're just working I-95 right now.

Q. Mike, when you have a player like Rex, who comes out of a program, the one that he came out of, how much does that factor into him being in the right place at the right time?
MIKE BREY: That's what we love about him, coming from the Mater Dei Program, Gary McKnight. I can relate because I played for a similar guy in the DeMatha program. A great high school program. Well coached program, kids who believe they're going to win. That's what got us over the hump and decided, let's get this guy. He has, since we got him in the lineup, and it started in Cameron, with how he played in Cameron to help us get that win -- guarding, doing tough stuff, his athletic ability, he bounces around. I mean, he does stuff like that in practice all the time. So it's not kind of out of left field.

Q. Mike, how aware were you of the presence of the fighting Irish fans the last two games?
MIKE BREY: Oh, our fans were fabulous here, and I can't believe any site had better energy than this site. I watched games. There was great juice in this building. But I knew, when I saw us flash up in Brooklyn, I was excited because I knew our people would be out, and they helped us. They certainly helped us believe when we were down five with whatever it was left.

Q. Mike, this also ties into Jay and the Villanova game earlier. After so many years of not getting out of the first weekend, you get a Sweet 16 now to back up the Elite Eight last year. How much more of a relief is it, and how encouraging is it that the program has come on and taken on a life of its own?
MIKE BREY: My biggest concern was last year was so special, and I didn't want this group trying to be an extension of last year. We had to coach them. They were individual. But for them to live in the shadow of last year's team and then find their own way and identity and get to this point, I'm really proud of them. They've been great.

I was always concerned about our leadership, losing Grant and Connaughton. And Jackson, Vasturia, and Auguste have excited my expectations. That's why we're still playing.

Q. Mike, you talked in your opening remarks, you said emphatically how good that team was. You guys had to shoot 56 percent for the game, and you guys outrebounded them. Sometimes you get this idea that a better seed has to play terribly to lose this kind of game. You guys had to play good to beat them. That must speak well for both of you guys.
MIKE BREY: I knew we had to guard when they're running their stuff. We did it enough, but, God, they're really hard to defend, and they're hard to play against. We couldn't really run any of our motion. Everything was react to a double-team, and I thought overall we made fabulous decisions out of traps, making the extra pass, then driving it, shooting it. We posted a couple times.

Demetrius and Matt Farrell were really good with the ball. It's interesting, as I was watching them beat West Virginia -- and we had not played yet, but back of my mind, I said, if we're fortunate enough to advance, I'm glad I started Matt Farrell tonight because he's got to be able to handle the ball and help Demetrius if we play them. And I thought Matt Farrell was fabulous.

Q. V.J. kind of talked about how they never lost their confidence late, but at least in your mind, 35, 40 seconds left, you're down one, and Thomas Walkup, who's been so awesome all weekend, has the ball. How worried are you that it's your last 45 seconds of the season?
MIKE BREY: Well, when we went into that time-out, we went two for one at the end of the game, and we had a same situation in a Kentucky game last year, and we didn't go two for one. We said, as a coaching staff, if this presents itself again, we're going two for one, and we were able to get Demetrius to the line to cut it to one. We knew, if we played out the defense, we'd have plenty of time. There's no way you're calling time-out. There's a little bit of chaos going on. Let's use that to our advantage. D got to the hole.

And then as you tell guys, if you're down one, don't worry about an over the back call. Just everyone run to the backboard. There's no such thing you worry about going over anyone's back. Z.A. and Rex were fabulous there. But I think it's a game situation, as I mentioned, that we practice this year. I kicked myself because we should have done that in Cleveland. It was set up that way. And, again, we executed it, and I'm thrilled.

Q. Mike, in a big picture way, you kept the ACC going here, and you've had a heck of a tournament. Have you been able to watch the other ACC games, and what do you think of them?
MIKE BREY: I have. I'm really proud of our league. I think now this league is, with the year this year, it's playing out to be the best league. Remember, I came from that league called the Big East when we were by far the best league and had this kind of depth and number of NCAA Tournament caliber teams. And I know if Syracuse gets in, that would be six in the Sweet 16. Has that ever happened before? Would that be a record? Six from one league in the Sweet 16? It's unbelievable and further validates how hard our league was and how proud I was that we were 11-7 in the 4 seed. We'll take that.

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