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March 7, 2017

Carolyn Kieger

Natisha Hiedeman

Amani Wilborn

Chicago, Illinois

Marquette - 86, DePaul - 78.

CAROLYN KIEGER: Apologize for the emotions to start with. I think the thing that I think of right now is our players are going to remember this for the rest of their lives, and I am so happy for that. And to do it at my alma mater in front of people that I love and care about, it really is a dream come true.

Q. Amani, tournament MVP coming into the year, did you think this was really a possibility for you, and what was your mindset heading into the tournament?
AMANI WILBORN: Well, heading into the tournament, I was just thinking about the team winning, but I appreciate Coach for continuing to believe in me and just believing in my strengths, and we just pulled it off.

Q. Amani, can you just describe what it's like to do all this on your 20th birthday, too?
AMANI WILBORN: It's the best feeling ever. It's like the best birthday I've ever had. I feel like a little kid again.

Q. Natisha, what is it like to hit everything in front of such a good home crowd tonight?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: It's just a great feeling just to be able to put up some numbers for my team. We wanted this so bad, so this is an amazing feeling. I'm so excited to go dancing. Literally. (Laughter).

Q. Amani, career night last night, you follow that up one shy of tying that, and coming off the bench to deliver for this team that's so based on ball movement, how do you feel right now? What's going through your head?
AMANI WILBORN: It's unbelievable. Words can't really explain how I feel right now. It's just -- I come into the game and just look to do whatever the team needs in that particular game, and that's what we needed tonight.

Q. Natisha, what did it mean to play in front of the crowd tonight? What did that atmosphere give you and the team?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Our crowd is amazing. The atmosphere in Al McGuire is amazing, they bring us a lot of energy, we feed off of them, they feed off of us, and we won it together. Honestly, they deserve it just as much as we do, and I've just got to thank them.

Q. Natisha, that half court shot right at the end of the first quarter. When you threw that up did you think, hey, this might go in?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: No, but I was like, it's worth a shot. I don't know, might as well. It's three points.

Q. To go from rise with us, fly with us, I assume this will be dance with us or something like that? That progression of what you've done for this program, how do you put that into words?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, it starts with people, and I think Marquette is so special because we have amazing people. I mean, obviously great leadership with Dr. Lovell and Bill Scholl that are ahead of us. They believe in us and they support us as a women's basketball team, and we can't do it without them. But I have a great staff, and obviously my team, it's really all the credit goes to them. We rebuilt the locker room a couple years ago, and I put a picture of the Big East trophy on the wall, specifically for this reason, and said nothing given, everything earned, and boy, did we earn that tonight. We earned it.

Q. Amani, looks like they were giving you a lot of one-on-one looks. What were you seeing out there and why were you able to have so much success?
AMANI WILBORN: They were sagging off of me because my tagging abilities, and I just felt that was another way for me to get a head of steam and attacking them on their heels and just finish with my athleticism.

Q. What is it like winning this tournament as just sophomores, knowing you have a couple more years to contend here?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: I feel like we just set expectations super high, so I'm living in the moment right now, but I'm looking forward to the next couple years, too.

AMANI WILBORN: Yeah. This one was for -- this one to me was for our senior Makayla Yentz. She just worked hard, so she was pretty much our motivation throughout this.

Q. Can you talk about the defensive effort, again, fourth quarter I think they had six turnovers, three in the first three minutes there. Was that momentum?
CAROLYN KIEGER: The first two times we played DePaul, they scored 84 points in the paint, so we told our team tonight that we were going to defend the paint, and they had 20, and our team really stuck to the game plan, and they said we're going to make them live or die by the three. They hit 13 of them but they only scored 20 in the paint, and our team stuck with it, and I just give them a lot of credit for trusting us.

Q. What was the game plan for Jessica January and Brook? Obviously they're two of the best players in the Big East.
CAROLYN KIEGER: Score more points than them. You can't defend them, they're too good. DePaul is so balanced that it's really hard to come up with one defensive scheme. You've got to keep changing it and you've got to keep them on their toes. We tried a couple different stuff off of ball screens to kind of affect them, but I think the majority of it we just really tried to eliminate their points in the paint.

Q. You have five really good rotation players and they're all sophomores. What's the ceiling for Marquette Golden Eagle Basketball going forward?
CAROLYN KIEGER: You know, I think our potential is through the roof. I think we have grown so much in one year, if we do that again in a year, it's going to be scary.

The best thing I think about this group right now is they're hungry. They're coachable. And they really want this, and they just don't want it for themselves, they want it for each other, and our team chemistry is phenomenal. I give a lot to credit to that.

Q. Not to take you out of this moment, but how do you get ready for the NCAAs with obviously a young team that hasn't been there, and this is all new to them.
CAROLYN KIEGER: Keep doing what we've been doing all year, and that's confidence. I told them tonight that the more confident team was going to win, and I think having that mantra and just really looking at each other and believing that we can do this, it's really helping them. It's helping them in tight moments. It's helping them focus, and it just kind of takes a little bit of pressure off them, and I think that's what we'll do. We'll keep being who we are.

Q. Over the past few weeks heading up into this game your offense has really become more balanced. Tonight was probably one of the best examples of that. How has your team been able to develop that balance?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Get in the gym and get to work. I challenged them in the beginning of the year that we were just getting started, but it's going to take a lot of hours in the gym, a lot of hours when I wasn't there, a lot of hours when I was there, and I think they're really buying into focusing on their individual games, but they're not just going by themselves, they're bringing a Makayla Yentz and Amani Wilborn shoot every single day after practice together. I challenged Makayla probably about three months ago when they were sagging off Amani, and I said that's your responsibility as a senior, you've got to get her in the gym. But seeing the two of them every single day after practice, that's why we won. It's hard work.

Q. In just three short years you've really turned around this program. Why do you think your culture -- why do you think the players buy into your culture so well?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think they understand my confidence in them. My confidence in them is through the roof, and I'm a very confident person myself, so I think they feed off that a lot. When I took this job, I knew we could be special, and I have my sights set very high. I've never been to a Final Four, and I'm not shy to say that's our goal. We want to get there. The Big East championship is amazing, but we're not going to stop there. If they know that's my mentality, if they know that's where we're headed, then they're going to have to follow along.

Q. Just to put this in summary, these four days, having this tournament here and that atmosphere tonight, what can you say about it?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think it's one of those situations where when you're alone at night and you're thinking and you're envisioning how it's going to go and you hope and you pray that it goes the way you want it, and so now I think the only thing I can say is I'm blessed and I'm thankful and to be able to do it here with our administration, to be able to do it with our family and friends, like I said before, this is a moment they'll never forget, and I just prayed that they would get the opportunity to seize it, and they did.

To be able to do that at this stage of their career and handle that pressure playing on your home floor, that says a lot about their character. That says a lot about their toughness. I've never had this much fun as a player or a coach in my basketball career. It's a credit to my players and my staff because this has been one hell of a ride, and we're just getting started.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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