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March 6, 2017

Carolyn Kieger

Amani Wilborn

Danielle King

Chicago, Illinois

Marquette - 72, Creighton - 65

CAROLYN KIEGER: First thing is I cannot give enough credit to my players and my staff for how much this team has matured in a year. I mean, that was fantastic to watch them weather that storm, make every right play down the stretch, and I can't say enough about these two guards sitting next to me and how much they've matured, not even in a year, just from the beginning of the season. They looked like veterans out there, make my job easier. But that was a great environment, that was fun, and I could not be more proud of my players and staff.

Q. What does it mean to you guys to be playing for a Big East title this year?
AMANI WILBORN: Especially on our home floor, I think it means the most. We've been talking -- this is just one of our steps. We've been talking about this since the beginning of the season, so it's just exciting being a part of it and actually playing in the championship game this year.

DANIELLE KING: Yeah, it's very exciting. I think it's an amazing feeling. I still feel jittery about it.

Q. Your coach said before this tournament started that you guys are playing without really any pressure. Is that how you guys feel when you're out there, especially in a game like this where it meant so much to advance?
DANIELLE KING: Yeah, I think so. I think we played better when we just played free and played our game and we play up tempo and don't have much to worry about because we don't have much to lose, we have to prove everybody else wrong.

AMANI WILBORN: Yeah, just knowing we always have each other's back, that's a big part of it, too.

Q. When you guys were looking at improving two months later from the first match-up with this team, I wondered if you looked at cutting down their good passing. I think they had 26 assists in the first game. Seemed like you guys really wanted to get in the passing lane. Was that part of your defensive strategy or were you looking at something else for this game?
DANIELLE KING: Well, we know that they like to score in the paint a lot. A lot of people take away a three most of the time, but they get a lot of passes off those back cuts and face cuts, so we tried to limit that.

Q. I guess you know coming in playing Creighton they like to take away the strengths of your team and kind of make the other players beat them. What was the plan of attack for you two coming in knowing that things would probably be tougher for Natisha and Blockton and those players?
AMANI WILBORN: I think just playing our game, regardless of what their defensive scheme was, just playing our game and doing what we know we're best at.

Q. Probably odd thinking, seeing so much space to create, how do you know when to pull the trigger, where to create, and things like that? How do you get into the flow of the game?
DANIELLE KING: Just like what we work on in practice. We work on pull ups and stuff a lot, so taking the open space that they give us, and be confident and knock down shots.

Q. The second consecutive game you guys scored 46 points in the paint. What made you guys so effective in getting open lanes and driving to the hoop?
AMANI WILBORN: I think just knowing -- just being confident in our athleticism, just knowing most of the players on our team can out-jump a lot of players, so out-jumping means you just take the contact and go right in.

Q. Playing on your home court, how much was that an advantage for you, maybe even just walking here, not stressing out about where you had to be? Was that a factor for you guys, too?
DANIELLE KING: Yeah, the energy here is great, and we love our fans and all the support we get. We just feed off of them every game.

Q. You guys are the first Marquette team to make it to the Big East championship; what does that mean for you guys as players to be that initial group from this University to get there?
DANIELLE KING: It's a great feeling.

AMANI WILBORN: Yeah. Just trying to leave our mark, just make memories and seize the moment.

Q. I know earlier this week and leading up to the tournament, you guys had an opportunity to speak to some alums, even some that were on the first ever women's basketball team at Marquette. How did that impact you guys heading into the tournament, that it's more than just about the people on the team?
DANIELLE KING: It's inspiring because they saw the potential that they have in us, that we have, and we just like to go out and show that it's been a legacy down the line, that it's been great basketball here at Marquette, and we're just continuing it.

Q. How fast is Danielle, and how -- can you even measure that? Do you even have any idea? Obviously she's very tough, but she's oxygen to the brain for this team.
CAROLYN KIEGER: Her tempo and her speed is like nothing I've seen before, and I kind of talk about this yesterday, but I think last year our team was learning how to keep up with her, and this year they've really learned how to play off each other, and I think that's the biggest difference. And now she's learning when to go full speed, when to change her pace, and she's becoming a phenomenal point guard for us, and I love her growth.

Q. It looked like you had a plan of attack from the jump as far as how Creighton might defend your top scorers, and Danielle looked like she was ready to kind of execute that game plan. What did you have drawn up for them from the start?
CAROLYN KIEGER: We knew the past two games that they played off Danielle and Amani. We knew they were going to come in and do that again, and just trying to get them confident and understand that they're just as capable as anybody else on our team, to stay confident, take the open shot, and to just let them know that if you're the open one on the floor, that's the Marquette shot. We have five people on the floor at any given time that can score.

And I've talked to some people about this. At the beginning of the year, I felt like we ran a lot of the offense through Allazia and everybody thought she had to score 27 points. Now, she's capable of doing that every night, but on the flipside, now we have other people that are stepping up. And that's I think the best part about our team is any given possession somebody else can step up and knock down a shot, and that's how I think we're evolving as a team.

Q. How does it feel to be going into the championship game against a team you beat twice in the regular season?
CAROLYN KIEGER: We don't know yet. Either way it's going to be fun.

Q. You said that you were proud of your girls for withstanding the pressure at the beginning. Why were they able to do that? What do you think the mindset was for them to kind of relax into their game?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think we've learned that our team is at their best when they're relaxed, and I've learned that as a coach. I think I'm learning how to coach them, as well. So pregame, all week, we're just talking about confidence. For them to kind of have me let them know, it's okay, let's just relax and let's have fun. Let's pretend the score is tied every single possession. And I think they just have bought into that, have bought into having fun and playing for each other. We had a model that our goal was to get McKayla Yentz to the NCAA Tournament for the last three weeks, and it's been really neat to see the team rally around their senior and play for her.

Q. What was the game plan to slow them down on the glass? They seemed to be grabbing a lot of rebounds in the first half, but the second half seemed a lot more even.
CAROLYN KIEGER: I just challenged them. I said if we can out-rebound Georgetown yesterday, we've got to do the same thing today. I think they took that to heart the second half.

What I'm really proud of is in the first few games they scored 80 points in the paint versus us. Tonight they scored 26 points. And I think our team did a fantastic job sticking to the game plan. They had those four threes early and they looked at us a little panicked, we're okay, let's stick to it, and it worked. And I'm just really proud of my team for sticking with it and knowing personnel and really packing the paint.

Q. You mentioned a little bit about it on the defensive end, they got 15 quick on you and then they finished with 65 and became very one-dimensional. How did the defense kind of just suck the life out of them?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, that's an interesting question because I've never had to answer one where defense was the answer for us. That means we're growing and evolving, right?

But no, I mean, from the moment we lost last year against Seton Hall, everything, every start to every practice has been defense, and so I called a time-out tonight, and I got into the team in the huddle, and I said, can you believe it, defense is winning this game? And the big smiles on their face. So they're proud of their progress on the defensive end, too. But I think it's maturity, it's growing up, it's understanding how important help side defense is, not just ball pressure.

That's the hardest, I think, part of the game for freshmen to learn is help side defense, and you can see how quickly these sophomores have adjusted to that.

Q. Getting to the Big East championship game, what does this mean for the program?
CAROLYN KIEGER: It's huge. I mean, the biggest thing is I'm just excited for my players. They've earned it. They trusted us. They trusted in the process. The first two years were hard. We knew that we had talent. We knew we had potential and we had to weather the storm, and I'm just -- this is for the administration. This is for our players. This is for my staff. And like I said, we're going to enjoy this moment because we fought and we've worked really, really hard to get here.

Q. Just four turnovers for your team; what does that say about this group that the majority of them are sophomores, that they were able to take care of the basketball in such a hostile environment and this game meant so much.
A. Yeah, it's huge. 17-0 on points off of turnovers, right, so that's saying that we're maturing, I think. We're confident with the ball, especially the way we lost the Creighton game last time at their home floor was because of turnovers, so in a month to have fixed that and to have confidence down the stretch, that says a lot about our toughness.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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