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March 20, 2016

Holly Warlick

Jaime Nared

Mercedes Russell

Diamond DeShields

Tempe, Arizona

Tennessee - 75, Arizona State 64

COACH WARLICK: Just have a tremendous amount of respect for Charli and what she's done with this program. We knew it was going to be a difficult task for us. Really proud of our young ladies for stepping up.

You know, I thought we were solid. We didn't panic. We made runs. They made runs and we did some really great things by some individuals and it was a great team effort. Staff was into it and just really proud to be moving on.

Q. For any of you, how were able to work the ball inside like you were against ASU and kind of do what California did in the Pac-12 tournament and be able to expose the size disadvantage there?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: Well, they kind of gave us a look defensively that we had not had a chance to see a lot this year. I know our posts found themselves isolated, which has been rare for them.

So we were just able to get the ball down low to them, and I know Mercedes just went to work a couple of times and I think that's a credit to how skilled our posts really are. Just giving them a chance to showcase their skills. I know Shaara was in foul trouble but they were isolated down there. It's not hard to get them the ball when they are one-on-one.

MERCEDES RUSSELL: Like Diamond said, I think it was a different defensive look that we've seen. In the past everybody has been packing it in and kind of double and triple teaming us in the post, and tonight, they just played us straight up one-on-one.

So credit to our guards for just seeing us when we were open and giving us the ball.

JAIME NARED: We have three very talented posts, and a lot of the times throughout the year, people were just packing it in. ASU kind of had us man-to-man the whole game, and when you have talented players like Bashaara and Mercedes that work so hard and are able to get open the way they are, and as skilled as they are, it's easy to get them the ball because they are so skilled and can score.

Q. Diamond, if you can talk about the importance of this victory, winning on another team's home floor and advancing to the round of 16.
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: Well, like Hol said, Arizona State is an extremely talented team. Huge credit to their coaches, all their players and all the people involved and to their team.

Like I said, it was a very different look for us. Handling their pressure was something we knew coming in was something we would have to handle and stay composed, but getting this win was huge for us. It's just another chance for us to keep moving forward and another chance to prove people wrong and another chance for us to pursue our ultimate goal.

Just happy for the team and for our coaches and Holly and especially they stuck with us through highs and lows this year, so it's extremely satisfying to be able to get a huge win on the road like this one.

JAIME NARED: It's just nice to get a good win with them. I think a lot of people counted us out with our record and this season. I think we have all stuck together throughout the ups and downs of our season, and that's what brought us together and kept us so strong throughout this time. We could easily have folded. We had 12 losses in our season, easily just folded and gave up on our season.

But I think it's just a credit to how each and every person on this team is just a fighter and we are just going to keep fighting till the end.

MERCEDES RUSSELL: Like both of them said, I think it's a great win for us over a very talented and athletic Arizona State team. I think us playing together and just staying composed and handling pressure really helped us get this win.

Q. From what you're saying, did it surprise you ASU stayed and continued to play the type of defense that they did? Do you think they might switch and try to do something different? And Diamond, can you talk about the baskets you made fairly early in the fourth quarter when it was still a four- or five-point game?
DIAMOND DeSHIELDS: Based on the film we had watched, the only defensive changes I really thought that they would make is maybe pressing a little bit more like they did at the end of the game. I knew they were going to bring pressure. I don't think any of us expected to fall back from their pressure; that's what they do.

But the baskets that I made late in the game, my teammates were screaming for me. I know Shaara, she told me, she was like, "I'm going to keep screaming for you." And she didn't have the best game but still came in and almost had a double-double, given the minutes that she played.

But we just were connected on the floor. If it wasn't me, it was Jaime; and if it wasn't Jaime, it was Cedes. The fourth quarter was my moment. Every one of us had our own little moments to take over the game.

Q. Curious how much youth was a factor in the growth of the team this season, and if you think now that this team maybe is playing its best basketball of the season.
COACH WARLICK: Well, I think there was a lot of factors. I think we were injured. It took us awhile to get past that, especially Diamond. It took her, I'd say probably within this last month, she started playing the way she has been playing. So the injuries, togetherness; we lost three great leaders off our team last year, and so it took us awhile to gel.

But they -- as Jaime said, they stood together. Yes, I think right now we are playing the best basketball we've played. We're talking as a team, we played 18 teams that are in this tournament, and it was a very, very difficult schedule for a team that really had not played a lot together.

So we struggled, we lost games, we were really, really bad. We lost games. We were good and couldn't finish the job. But right now, I think we're playing the best basketball of the year. If we're going to peak, I think it's a great time to peak right now.

Q. So when they had Dornstauder in there, they were able to do a little -- combat Russell a little bit, but it still seemed like your overall size was a really big factor. And then just talk about what Diamond did when it was maybe a four-point game in the fourth.
COACH WARLICK: We started, we ran some stuff to her. I think we went to Mercedes early, and she was doing a great job. Then they got in foul trouble. I thought Nia Moore came in and hit some big shots for us. But I thought this we needed to go to Diamond. She saw it off the screen, the elbow right there. I had a lot of confidence in running certain things to her that she would make plays, and she did.

So when we did miss it, I thought Bashaara, she didn't play the whole first half. So she was very well rested and came up with 11 rebounds and they were huge for us.

It was a combination, and like Diamond said, it was her time to step up and she stepped up and hit some baskets that kind of separated us, and we didn't panic. That's something that we've had to -- we've struggled with at times. We did not panic. We made plays. We made plays.

Q. Hempen only scored three points. She wasn't really forcing anything, but also the fact that you held her to three, how important do you think that was?
COACH WARLICK: Well, we keyed in on her -- when she hit her first three, I got a little nervous. But we didn't want her to go off on shooting three points. But her teammates stepped up and hit some big threes, too. But I thought it was key for us. That was our focal point, to not let Katie get in a rhythm, because I have a lot of respect for her and what she can do to the basketball.

So we were going to -- we wanted somebody else, if they were going to beat us, it was going to be somebody else besides her. And hey, give credit, the guards stepped up and hit some big threes when they needed to.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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