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March 27, 2016

Mike Brey

Steve Vasturia

V.J. Beachem

Demetrius Jackson

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

North Carolina - 88, Notre Dame - 74

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and student-athletes Demetrius Jackson, Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem. Coach, an opening statement.

MIKE BREY: I'm extremely proud of my team. And to get here, and I thought we put ourselves in position -- you gotta give credit to Carolina. We took that one-point lead and they really answered it like men, and we didn't have much left. They wore us down a little bit with their depth and their front line. And they shot the heck out of the ball. You gotta hope that they miss a few. But I loved how we went at them and we gave them everything we had. My hat's off to them. They're really playing well. I think they're playing the best of anybody left.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. V.J. and Demetrius, is there any consolation to being named to the all-tournament team?
V.J. BEACHEM: No, not really. We were at this exact same spot last year. This one hurts just a little bit more, because we got back here again and we're really not worried about individual accolades or anything like that.

DEMETRIUS JACKSON: One thing, I'm really proud of V.J., the way he stepped up this postseason. I've known V.J. for a long time. And to see him just do what he did this postseason is really good, and going into senior year, I think that was huge. And it's going to help emerge him into a better leader and better player.

Q. Demetrius, in the second half, when Meeks got going early in the second half, how did that affect you guys defensively the rest of the way when they could post up like that inside?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: He's a great player. And you know he makes great moves inside. So we just had to calm down and dig a little bit more. And he made some tough shots and we tip our hats to him. And best of luck to him.

Q. Steve and Demetrius, could you just talk about what the game plan was offensively in terms of taking time off the shot clock? And how much of that was trying to minimize possessions for Carolina?
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah, we definitely wanted to try to slow it down a little bit, but get great shots every time. And I think we did that in the first half a little bit. And we were in a pretty good rhythm offensively. And second half I think we did a lot of similar stuff. But we were attacking a little bit more. But they did a great job defending for a full 40 minutes, and you've got to give them credit.

DEMETRIUS JACKSON: They did a great job, and we just wanted to play at our tempo. And they did a good job of executing what they wanted to do defensively. We just went out, gave it all we had and just came up short.

Q. Demetrius, you had a moment there at the end with Zach. Could you share what you said or what that moment was like for you?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: Just giving him a hug, just because he's put so much into the program. And he's really poured his heart and soul into it. So as a senior and that being his last game at the university, just trying to give him a hug.

Q. North Carolina was hounding the boards. Did you guys try to make any adjustments down the stretch to try to limit that?
STEVE VASTURIA: Yeah, I mean, that's kind of what they're known for, crashing and getting offensive rebounds. But we tried to block out, flying to the glass. They bring in four big guys and they're really good at that. So give them credit for keep staying on the backboards. And we tried to keep them off the glass, and they were able to get a couple of good looks.

Q. Demetrius, as well as you guys played in the first half, you were still down five. What was the feeling coming out of the locker room?
DEMETRIUS JACKSON: We've been in a bunch of different positions this year, so we felt good, felt confident still. We just wanted to give ourselves a chance to win. And I'm really proud of the effort our team gave and they're a great team. So we tip our hat to them but I'm really proud of just the effort we gave as a whole.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Mike, you talked yesterday just about how good North Carolina was. When you guys hit them with that 12-0 run, did that almost serve to bring the best out of them, did you see?
MIKE BREY: I thought the way they answered that run was championship level. You know, we've hit people with runs like that and then it's been game situations down the stretch. I think Paige hit a runner after we took the lead. And they were great. And, again, they've got a great vibe about them right now.

Q. Why were you so hesitant down the stretch to foul on that long North Carolina possession from 2:30 to 1:30?
MIKE BREY: Because it was over. It was over. Our guys were exhausted, too.

Q. Mike, during that run, that was right after they put Pinson back in. It seemed like he was active throughout a lot of that. What sort of a difference did he make in that stretch?
MIKE BREY: I think because we were playing small, they adjusted and didn't have two big guys on the court a lot of times. And he was able to play like a 4-man and guard a Beachem or Vasturia. But the problem is on the other end he's hard to keep on the backboard. Whether he's playing a 3 or 4 he's active. They just have a lot of trampolining guys that can keep the ball alive, and we just couldn't secure that first miss and that hurt us.

Q. When you took the lead, they scored on 19 of their last 20 possessions. Have you ever seen anything like that in the regional finals?
MIKE BREY: I'm sitting there thinking they've got to miss one -- is Brice Johnson -- can he just miss one? Can he just help us a little bit? But I don't know if I've ever experienced that. Because we burned in the first half and really controlled tempo. And we called timeout when they went up on us, and we played our two big guys, we started playing them -- Bonzie, we post him, and we get the lead and you're thinking: This is going down the wire, and we want it going down to the wire.

I give them credit, man. And they got every 50/50 ball. And again I think their bodies were fresher because they play some more guys. And Demetrius Jackson couldn't come out of the game tonight. And he was unbelievable but he was also exhausted.

Q. What was your mindset before the game going in offensively -- you used to call it the burn?
MIKE BREY: We were in it. You saw it. We were grinding that thing, single digits on the clock, ball screening then for Demetrius or Matt Farrell. I thought we did a good job of getting V.J. in a ball screen because they had a big on him. So we tried to get him up in a ball screen because they were playing two bigs at the time.

I loved where we were at halftime. We had a hard time stopping them but we were flowing a little bit. The possessions were down. But then in the second half, once you go down a couple possessions you're not holding the ball anymore. So we played our main lineup and we started attacking. And that helped us physically in the paint a little bit against them. And I loved that we took the lead. But man did they punch us back and I take my hat off to them.

Q. Zach really seemed to struggle tonight. Was that a testament to the North Carolina bigs, or did you see anything different from him in particular?
MIKE BREY: You know, he had a tough night. I feel for him. We don't get to this game without him. And I know he feels bad. He had an unbelievable year for us. The foul trouble probably hurt him and never really got him into a rhythm. He sat the whole half. Maybe I should have put him back in with two fouls just so he could feel the game a little bit. But when we're getting big-time defensive rebounds, it's usually that guy getting them. And he didn't get as many tonight.

It was a tough night for him. But, again, we're not this far without what Zach gave us this season.

Q. Could you just kind of put the season into context? Obviously big accomplishment going back to '08 but falling short again?
MIKE BREY: I told our guys -- I went back to the locker room last year in Cleveland after the Kentucky game and I said, you know -- I remember saying it was an honor to coach you. And I remember walking out of that locker room thinking I wonder -- I won't ever feel the same about a team like I did that team last year. And I felt better about this group. Because they were unbelievably coachable.

And our leadership grew in areas I didn't think we could grow. Demetrius Jackson especially. And they had expectations. They were supposed to be pretty good and people were coming off the ACC championship and Elite Eight. Last year's team we were 15 and 17. They had no pressure. They could just play.

And I just told them I can't -- you were better than them. You were tougher than them. And I never thought I'd say that. So we've got a lot of guys coming back. It was a fabulous run for us.

We've got a lot of guys coming back that have won in this tournament and feel it's what we should do, and I love that characteristic of our program right now.

Q. They went inside early in the second half. And I wondered, did that destroy what you had try to do?
MIKE BREY: We were playing a smaller lineup hoping we could hold them off. Once they got a couple of possession lead we put Bonzie in there for Matt Farrell and that helped us.

We made the run and took the lead. We were able to guard them a little bit better in the post with two big guys in. But as I said earlier before you came in, how they answered our one-point lead was championship level stuff. I take my hat off to them. They made every big play.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

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