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March 2, 2017

Joe McKeown

Nia Coffey

Ashley Deary

Indianapolis, Indiana

Northwestern - 78, Iowa - 73

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Coach McKeown and the Northwestern student-athletes Ashley Deary and Nia Coffey. Coach, an opening statement.

COACH MCKEOWN: It was a great game, a game of quarters. And I thought we played so well in the second quarter. Went into halftime I thought with a lot of confidence. I thought we played really well in the third quarter too.

I thought Iowa is too good offensively to not score. And I thought they started to get the ball inside. And we had to change some of our schemes. But our players adjusted really well.

And then I like how we finished the game out. We got rebounds. We made free throws, and that's what you want to do this time of year, pretty much. This is a game where last year we played great here. And I just love how we played today as a team, just the energy, the effort. And when you have my two bodyguards with me, you think you've got a chance to win, you know.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the students, please.

Q. Nia, 34 points today. 15 of 26 shooting. What was working really well for you?
NIA COFFEY: Just attacking the paint and getting easy layups and being aggressive.

Q. In that game scenario what's going through your mind and what's the important thing when you're at the free-throw line in that moment?
ASHLEY DEARY: Just to stay focused. That's what we practice, playing under pressure. And we did a good job of keeping control of the ball for the most part and knocking down free throws when we needed to.

Q. To start the game you had, I think, seven turnovers in the first quarter. How important was it for you to stay focused and to not let that bother you for the rest of the game, Ashley?
ASHLEY DEARY: It was really important. Once we slowed the game down a little bit and just -- we knew they were going to anticipate. So when we controlled the ball and took care of it, good things happened and we scored.

Q. Ashley and Nia, it's been a lively season for both the men and women of Northwestern this season. Is there any feeling, can that momentum and enthusiasm go from one to the other? Do you have a lot of connections with one another?
NIA COFFEY: We're very supportive of both teams at Northwestern so just seeing the success happen on both sides, so it really feels good in our program and we make sure we continue that in both sides.

ASHLEY DEARY: I echo that. We see the guys working hard in practice. We support them just like they support us. It's a family thing.

COACH MCKEOWN: When Chris Collins came in and when you see how hard they work -- their staff, their players -- I think it's you see now you see the results. And I think it's just great for Northwestern, our athletic department, our university. But just you really -- the guys you want to see win because they're always trying to do the right thing and their staff, they've just grinded so hard to get to this point. So hopefully last night it was fun to see that.

Q. You've played a lot of close games lately but haven't won any of them. What was the difference in getting a win today?
ASHLEY DEARY: I think not turning the ball over was a really big thing for us. And we took care of the ball. That made a big difference. We got open looks. We really locked in on defense and got some key rebounds. So that was a big difference maker between past games and this game.

Q. There was that one play with just under a minute left when you picked the ball up off the floor and somehow saw Nia there. Could you either describe what was going through your mind -- it was like a broken play and she passed it to her?
ASHLEY DEARY: Where I was by myself? Yeah, that was just hard. We had people diving on the floor. She was open and so I gave it to her.

COACH MCKEOWN: Statue of Liberty play. We haven't used it until today.

NIA COFFEY: I was just open so I called for it.

Q. Joe, during the run with Coffey having four fouls, what were your thoughts, because she went a long way with four fouls?
COACH MCKEOWN: My thoughts were don't get your fifth foul, number one; and number two, don't try to block every shot where you might get your fifth foul.

But she's right next to me now. Nia, she's matured so much. And she knows how to play, I think, in those situations. And this maturity, and I think she showed great poise today by not fouling, but still being aggressive in offense. That's why I kept her in. Iowa was making a run. We needed to score and I thought she did a great job of keeping her poise.

Q. Another year with a crazy game in the Big Ten Tournament, what's special about this event where you played such crazy, such good games?
COACH MCKEOWN: I will tell you, you know, without going back that far, we've been in the semifinals the last two years and have had great games. We had a great game with Maryland two years ago in the semifinals where we had a 13-point lead. Last year the run we made, the way we did it, you know, it was special. And I think these guys, I brought them all here. They're seniors, which is really hard. And I think they want to go out on top. They want to prove whatever there is to prove.

Not so much to the outside world, but I think just to us, too, that they're going to walk out of here and they're like hey, we did this the right way, we just had special careers here and they don't want it to end.

Q. You made the decision to give Pallas her first start of the season in this game. I don't think she scored any points but she had a bunch of huge offensive and defensive rebounds and big presence on defense. What went into that decision maybe when you made it?
COACH MCKEOWN: I will tell you I had Chris Collins actually talk to my team yesterday. He's been on me every day about Pallas, and so has my wife. And so has everybody else that wonders how you have a player that gets every rebound and there's two players in practice you don't want to play against. And one is her and the other is Pallas. And so I think she's been through a lot this year.

I think she's overcome some things. She's starting to play at the level that we feel like she's capable of. She brings something that very few players have in our league. And that type of explosion and just her ability to get to the ball quickly like I said.

So this time of year when rebounding is so important, post defense, and just diving on the floor for your teammates. She does all those things.

Q. Probably most obvious question to ask is between Ashley and Nia and you, Jordan came from this town, Hankins, every day this tournament started with the mention of her passing this year. All three of your comments about winning a game and about Jordan?
ASHLEY DEARY: We know we had a big run last year and a lot of that was because of Jordan. So she's been on our hearts. We go out and we play for her. It's great to be in her hometown. She's always on our minds, always thinking about her. So we're just going out playing for her and trying to make her proud.

COACH MCKEOWN: I think Ashley said it about as good as you could say it.


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