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March 10, 2017

Will Wade

De-Riante Jenkins

JeQuan Lewis

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

VCU 70, George Mason 60

WILL WADE: You know, I thought we got off to a really good start, which is something we've been working on, is making sure we got off to a good start. I thought we did a great job there. And then obviously in the last, you know, six minutes of the game, we work on that stuff all the type. We talk about that being winning time.

We executed in those final six minutes, and you know, when we were making threes like that, that scoreboard adds up pretty quickly. That was a big help. But was proud of our guys. I thought JeQuan really stepped up down the stretch. I think he was one of six until the last -- or one of seven until last ten minutes or so.

Like a senior, he closed strong. And it's nice to have De'Riante back. He played really well. I thought Burgess did a nice job. I thought Hamdy was in major foul trouble, but Hamdy made two huge plays for us, getting the offensive rebound and getting fouled, and then he got a huge defensive rebound in between three folks.

Give Mason credit. They are a really good team. You know, Marquise Moore, 17 rebounds after having I think 19 last night, something like that. I mean, they are a good team. Coach Paulsen does a phenomenal job. They had all sorts of junk defenses for us tonight, some stuff we hadn't seen during the regular season. And it took us a little bit of time to adjust, but our guys did a good job.

Q. Foot injury you and you go three for three from downtown. How does it feel now after advancing?
DE'RIANTE JENKINS: It feels fine. Glad to be back out there with my guys and having fun.

Q. You've made a living attacking the paint this year but just how different does it feel when those threes start falling for you guys?
JEQUAN LEWIS: It opens up the court. Teams are starting to double down on Mo, Tillman and Hamdy, they are really good bigs, and when we're hitting shots on the perimeter, it's hard for teams to do that and it just opens them up for easy buckets.

Q. What was the difference there in the last eight minutes for you? Coach mentioned the junk defenses. Were those slowing you down? Was there something you saw that changed things for you there the last eight minutes?
JEQUAN LEWIS: I just thought I'd be more aggressive. We were settling a lot for perimeter shots and Coach was just staying on us about getting in the paint. So we just ran plays to get us driving downhill and get paint touches.

Q. In the first half, you turned to the media and you said, "I've got another three in me." Can you take me through what was going through your mind? And turned around again and said, "I told you so."
DE'RIANTE JENKINS: I told my guy Tim that. I knew I was open, Samir kept coming off the screen and it was either pick your poison, help off of Samir and leave me in the corner for a three, and we got a lot of shots early this week in practice and it showed tonight.

Q. Struggling a little bit from the perimeter last few games. Take me through your mind-set, and how big it was for you just to make a shot out there finally to kind of break that ice.
JEQUAN LEWIS: I've been very optimistic lately. That's been my worry this whole season; just overcoming adversity, not really thinking about it.

Yeah, I missed six shots in the first half but I just followed through with my routine and kept shooting it. Eventually I knew it was going to fall.

Q. Moving on to the semifinals tomorrow, and obviously you play the winner of the George Washington, Richmond game. Which team do you feel you matchup better with?
WILL WADE: Good question. I mean, they both present totally different challenges to you. You know, George Washington is smash-mouth and they have got Cavanaugh and obviously Richmond has the Rookie of the Year, or the Player of the Year in the league. They spread you and you've got to be really good defensively against them.

Both of them present different challenges, and whichever one of them wins tonight, we'll do our best to prepare for and be ready tomorrow at 3:30.

Q. Obviously the guys see the results from Dayton, but how do you get that out of their mind and just focus game by game?
WILL WADE: Well, we talk about it. You know, to win a tournament, you've got to win the first game, and I've always said, I think the first game is the most difficult one to win. It's the hardest one to win. It's a one-time -- you know, the team, Mason got to play last night.

Now if you keep winning and you're the team who played the first night, obviously it works against you with how tired you get. But that first night when the other teams played for a little bit, that's why I think it's hard sometimes when you have that bye to get going.

I was proud of our guys at the start, but give Mason credit. They are a tough bunch. We couldn't knock them out at our place on Saturday. We kept throwing punches and punches and punches, and we couldn't knock them out. They came back and came back and they cut to three or four, and tonight, same thing. We gave them the best we had at the beginning and it was 12-2, and I don't think we scored for eight minutes or something like that. Those guys don't go anywhere. They are a tough, tough -- a tough, tough, out.

Q. They had your big men bottled up, doubling and making it really tough for them in there. How big was it to find somebody to make a shot, with Doug --
WILL WADE: It was huge. I mean, it loosens things up. I thought Doug's three was a big three. You know, it's big. I thought our guys did a nice job passing. I thought we found Burgess a couple times. We missed a couple passes where we would have been open and we just, we fumbled the ball. You know, they had a good game plan. They had a really good game plan. They always do.

Q. How much of that early stretch for JeQuan is him not wanting to shoot you guys out of the game, and how much of that is him being patient?
WILL WADE: Well, I think sometimes he passes good shots up, and I wish he'd be more aggressive sometimes. But you know, part of that is probably on me. I mean, they hear "pound it in the paint" in their sleep. I'm relentless about that.

So they know, especially early, I have a quick hook if you don't get that thing in the paint. Sometimes they probably, you know, don't spend enough time throwing -- you know, looking for their own stuff.

But we find a good balance usually as the game goes along.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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