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March 21, 2016

Robin Pingeton

Sophie Cunningham

Jordan Frericks

Austin, Texas

Texas - 73, Missouri - 55

COACH PINGETON: The last game is always a real tough game, especially when you have such a close-knit group of young ladies, and it's truly been an honor and a blessing to coach them.

Yeah, I felt like we got ourselves in a little bit of a hole in that first half and had a hard time recovering. Got to within 11 in that fourth quarter with about eight minutes to go and had a couple costly turnovers.

But I thought in the second half, we played -- we did a much better job. Obviously had a hard time on the boards. Part of that was we went with that diamond and one to start. We knew we were going to give up some offensive boards, but gave up more than what we anticipated, and then had to fight our way back from there.

Really proud of our kids. I thought they competed. I thought they left their hearts out there and at the end of the day, that's all you can ask for as a coach.

Q. The other night you were talking about taking advantage of a size mismatch, the scoring inside. You didn't seem to be able to do that, 22-0 in the first half. What happened and why couldn't you do that?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, they just -- they are just big inside, long-armed. We just weren't in our motion in the first half. Their big guards, as well, I don't really know why we weren't getting inside. But I know they are huge, and even if they would --they would collapse, and since they were so long-armed, it would be hard to get back out.

Q. Jordan, you guys were the top rebounding team in the SEC this year. What made Texas so different and tough to keep off the offensive glass?
JORDAN FRERICKS: I mean, again, their size, pretty lengthy. And I think their guards did a great job of going to the boards. It's definitely something that hurt us a little bit. But I mean, we still -- I'm not sure. We just didn't have that right mentality to get them off the boards.

Q. Sophie, you guys showed a bit of life in the third quarter and seemed like you were doing well on offense. What was Texas doing from stop willing you guys from getting back into single digits?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, I think Coach said we were 34 and 37 in the second half with them, so I think it's honestly just the first half. We went out there, we threw the first punch but we have to keep punching.

I mean, they are long-bodied. I think that them crashing the boards, it's on us, our guards. I mean, we're finding a body. Our posts are doing well, trying to keep the big girls off the boards, but it's not easy -- to get those guards and not have them get those little tip-ins for them. It's the first half for us, that's where we dug ourselves a hole and we needed 40 minutes.

Q. After you hit the second foul there early in the first half, what was it like having to watch?
JORDAN FRERICKS: It was hard but I still have to be there for my teammates and cheer them on. Our other post players did a great job stepping up. I mean, there's going to be times, there's been times like that early in the season that I've done the same thing. Just got to keep cheering on my team, encouraging them.

Q. Jordan, you can watch film for hours and hours, but how did Texas in person, were they different than when you saw on film -- you can only do so much.
JORDAN FRERICKS: They weren't a whole lot different from film to playing. They were very physical, but we knew that going in. But I think that that's the only difference; the physicality of the game was a little more than I expected?

Q. Do you think the Texas guards were more physical than you expected them to be, especially Ariel Atkins, she's No. 24, left-hander.
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: I mean, they are ranked sixth in the nation and they are a very good team, very good team, very good guards, very good posts. I think our guards are just as physical. It's just it didn't go our way tonight, and partly it was their fault, or like because of them.

Their guards are good and they are quick. But we just have to be stronger with the ball, too. But they are a very good team.

Q. The locker room wasn't very cheery after the game, but what did Coach tell you guys and what did you tell the seniors?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, I mean, obviously they are a good group of girls, the most winning class out of Mizzou. They have taken this team where it's never been before this year and we have to remember that.

Yeah, we wanted that win but there's a lot of firsts this year for Mizzou. Texas is a very good team. Of course we wanted it for our seniors. They have done a lot for this program and it's just hard because you want it for them so bad.

Q. You're a freshman; do you see this season being a springboard to better times the next three years?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Yes, I do. But it's not just me. It's my teammates, as well. I think us being here, I've never been here before, and us being here is going to make us work a little harder because we don't want to end the season like this next year.

Q. How did it affect what you guys can do offensively after Jordan goes out there in the first half and you guys had to attack?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, it's hard. She's our best post player, but just because she goes out doesn't mean we're all going to get into our own selves. Like she said, she's going to cheer us on from the bench, and our bench stepped up tonight. I mean, that's a big girl down there and I think our posts did pretty good on them tonight.

Q. You were here the previous two seasons in the NIT years, how does the experience of the NCAA Tournament compare to the previous two years?
JORDAN FRERICKS: It's been an amazing opportunity, and you know, I think even the first two years, like this is still our goal. Like every year it's going to be our goal to get here. It was just an awesome opportunity to be able to get here and really showed our hard work that went into this season. We're looking forward to another year that's going to get us right back to where we are now.

Q. Seemed like your team was emphasizing the outside shot and I'm sure inside was a bit of a worry given Texas's length, but when you look at last opportunity, especially inside in the first half, were you surprised you didn't get more shots off in the paint?
COACH PINGETON: No, we talked about trying to draw their bigs out with some ball screen action, and they did just such a great job and they are so long; that even though we tried to draw the bigs out, they were able to kind of play in the gaps and made it really hard.

So when we tried to even isolate Sophie in the first half, on the block, you can't force their defense to come out and play our bigs on the perimeter.

And so we tried to get some action going off some ball screen action, and they just played in the gaps on that, as well.

I thought out of the gates, we had some really good looks. We hit the first couple shots and we had good looks and they just didn't fall for us. I think from that point, it really affected our defense, and you know, it took us -- it took us too long to kind of get back that edge.

But I like the shots that we got early in the game in that first quarter and I feel like if you knock them down, you're looking at a different ballgame for us, but we made it really hard on ourselves, and out of the gates in the second half, we got to the free throw line a little bit more in the third and fourth quarter.

So I thought the aggressiveness was good, but we had build ourselves such a big hole, that it was hard to dig out of.

Q. After rebounding so well throughout SEC play, what do you think was different about Texas or made them so tough?
COACH PINGETON: I think you've got to give them -- you've got to give them a lot of credit. I thought they really competed and worked hard on the boards. I mean, they were relentless to the glass. We had some possessions where I felt like our first step was a little bit slow, getting a body, became a little bit of a running race, and they are awfully athletic and strong and they have got size inside.

So could our effort have been a little bit better? Certainly on some possessions. But you have to give them a lot of credit. Like I said, they are long, they are athletic, they are quick to the ball.

In that first quarter, we were in that diamond and one, that was my biggest fear. I felt like maybe we could make them sputter a little bit offensively. They weren't going to play so much downhill off their ball screening action, and I thought that part of it was very effective for us. But what we gave up was a lot of offensive rebounds.

Q. Do you feel like McCarty was their biggest threat, or why did you go with the diamond and one?
COACH PINGETON: I feel like she's the heartbeat of that team. I think probably Karen would say the same sentiments. She's just -- she makes them go. She shoots the three ball so well. She's quick; she can create off the bounce, and we just felt like going with that zone defense out of the gates might make them play a little bit more on their heels, and again, not so much downhill.

Q. Ariel Atkins kind of took the role -- she's not always the star, but in your eyes, what did she do for Texas?
COACH PINGETON: Yeah, I just thought she -- and we didn't see that aggressiveness. So I know she's one heck of a player. I saw her play in high school in AU, but I just thought she came out of the gates and really set the tone and played extremely aggressive.

You know, there's a little bit of a mismatch inside, and you don't know who that battle is going to go to, and I thought she won it tonight. She can create off the bounce. She's got that good mid-range shot. She's got good handle. She can rebound, does a little bit of everything for them.

Q. How much thought did you give to taking a chance on putting Jordan back in with the two fouls, and how did you see that change?
COACH PINGETON: Yeah, you know, I had her up at that scorer's table once, and then we hit a big three and cut it to 11 and I thought, man, if we could keep it 11 to 15 till the half, I was going to keep her out.

We had an out-of-bounds play and thought I could throw her in there real quick at the end. Very tempting. You can't take your fouls home with you. You don't want to big too big of a hole that you can't dig yourself out of. And so it's a conversation we talked a lot about on the bench towards the end of that first half.

Q. Do you see a season like this being a springboard for the next couple years, especially with people like Sophie coming back?
COACH PINGETON: Without a doubt. Every year we've just continued to build, and our program has continued to make great strides. Really proud of our team. I think we're losing some really special young ladies in our senior class, very good basketball players, but even better people.

You know, every year is so unique and different with different personalities and the kids you lose and the kids that join your team, but I do think it's a springboard and I think for us, they needed the experience.

It was at that point in our building process that we talked a lot about this, and so they need to experience this opportunity in the NCAA and to understand what it takes to not only get here but to be successful here. And I think we've got an incredible group coming back. We've got to put a little bit more muscle on with our interior kids, and we've got some nice additions coming in to join our team next year.

So yeah, absolutely, it was a great year for us, a lot of success, and we're looking forward to building off it.

Really appreciate your guys' support in women's basketball and you guys being out here to cover us, so thank you very much.

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