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March 18, 2017

Holly Warlick

Diamond DeShields

Mercedes Russell

Louisville, Kentucky

Tennessee - 66, Dayton - 57

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement, and then questions for the student-athletes?

COACH WARLICK: Thank you. Thank you. Just loved our effort tonight. I thought Dayton was just -- they're an outstanding basketball team. They challenged us in every aspect of the game. Had a great year, but I loved our focus. I loved our energy, and I loved our resilience. So I can't say enough about this team and what they did tonight.

Q. Diamond, were you ill there late in the game? You went off the court, and then came back and never went back in the game. Are you okay?
DIAMOND DESHIELDS: Yes, I'm fine. Just had to handle a little situation, but I'm all good now.

Q. Diamond, I had the pleasure of covering your dad in the majors, your brother when he played for Lexington Legends. What have you learned from them about being on the big stage that helped you with this game and the big games that are coming down the road for you?
DIAMOND DESHIELDS: Just to attack the moment. When you're on the big stage, you can't shy away from that. I've seen my brother in Cooperstown and on numerous big stages. I've seen my dad play on numerous big stages. Just that competitiveness runs in our family. So just never to shy away from it, attack it, and be who you are, no matter where you're playing.

Q. Diamond, you now have 1,000 points as a Lady Vol. How does that feel? That's what Twitter says, at least.
DIAMOND DESHIELDS: I mean, points are -- I mean, points are what I do. I'd be more excited for like an assist record or a steals record or rebounding or something like that. My point is like I never really got too high about points because that's what my team expects me to give each and every night. That's my job. So had it been like 1,000 rebounds, I'd have been like, what? That's crazy. But I'm happy. This is what I came here to do and be a contributor, so it's nice to be rewarded.

Q. This is for both players. Dayton came in as one of the top teams in the country in field goal defense. What were you able to do, especially there in the second half, to really kind of overcome the defense that they put on you guys, especially after that second quarter where you guys only made 4 of 16 shots?
MERCEDES RUSSELL: I think just from the start, us attacking them in transition really helped us out with easy buckets. On the offensive end we were really moving the ball well and getting good cuts and getting good looks at the basket.

DIAMOND DESHIELDS: Yeah, just to piggyback off what Mercedes said, but we were also taking care of the basketball. So we were utilizing the possessions that we had, and we were able to get good open shots, and we were hitting those shots.

Q. Holly talked about the effort and energy of this team tonight. But that 14-point lead did get away from you. Do you have a sense yet of why this team at times kind of finds the challenging way to do things, I guess?
DIAMOND DESHIELDS: No, I don't. That's been a question we've been trying to answer all year, really. But you can't expect a team like Dayton to just give up. They're here for a reason. So you can look at it and say we gave up the lead, but on the other side they fought back.

They're a hard-working team, a well-coached team. And they weren't going to let us just run the score up on them. They kept playing hard and came back at us when we did go on our run. So credit to them for not giving up.

Q. Mercedes and Diamond, Dayton kind of wrote this off as a bad day at the office where they missed shots they normally make. But did you feel like from watching them on tape and then playing the game that you were doing things that affected them offensively and got them out of their comfort zone, maybe?
MERCEDES RUSSELL: I definitely think our defensive pressure was huge tonight. We had three keys for Dayton. It was guarding the three-point line, playing defense without fouling, and boxing out. And, honestly, I think we did a pretty good job of all three all night.

DIAMOND DESHIELDS: Yeah, they got a few open looks, especially in the second quarter when they made their run and tied the game back up. But we were just pressuring them. I'm sure it's unlike anything they've seen all year. Yeah, they missed a couple open shots, but the majority of the time we were in their space and taking away their three-point opportunity.

Q. When coaches look at a bad game, a bad shooting game, is there a tendency to blame it on your own team as opposed to giving the opposing defense credit?
COACH WARLICK: Well, you know, I do think they missed some shots that they would normally hit. I thought our defense affected them. I'm sure our defense wore them down a little bit.

I mean, our goal was to pressure the ball. It was to deny one pass away, we didn't want any high post catches, and if they did, it was away from the basket. So I think at times we made them work to get good looks.

And they missed -- fourth quarter they missed open shots, and I think it was the pace of the game, our pressure, and it wears you down a little bit. That's what we wanted to do. That's what we wanted to do. I agree with her. I think, too, it has something to do with our pressure as well.

Q. Even with that early lead getting away, you felt like this was a full 40-minute effort? And if so, how often have you seen that this season?
COACH WARLICK: I thought it was a great effort. I can't say enough about -- I thought Schaquilla Nunn was outstanding. We don't win the game if she doesn't get 15 rebounds and she shoots 6 for 10. She just competed. Because we were getting good looks, and then that second quarter the shots weren't falling, and I just thought -- then Jamie Nared got into foul trouble. So I thought Schaquilla was just absolutely huge.

Obviously, Diamond, we went to her. We're going to go to her. Mercedes kind of stepped up in the third and fourth quarter, but I also want to give credit to Jordan. She didn't shoot the ball well, but she led our basketball team, and I thought we gave great effort for 40 minutes.

Second quarter, they got a little hot. We didn't do what we needed to do as far as switching and attacking the ball. But overall, really, really pleased with people stepping up and staying consistent.

Q. What is it that Dayton brought as an opponent that you didn't really expect or wasn't prepared for that could help you as you move through the tournament here?
COACH WARLICK: Well, I tell you what they did, they're a great three-point shooting team, and at times it's given us fits throughout the year. I thought for the most part we took away their looks to get three-point shots. They're a great rebounding team, and that was one of our big points, is don't get outrebounded.

So they're a team that at times has been our weakness, giving up offensive rebounds, giving up three-point shots, giving up drives to the basket. So they challenged us in every aspect of the game. And that's what makes a good team. Shoots the three. Can penetrate, rebounds. This is a tough team to guard, it's a tough team to defend, and it's a tough team to win against.

Q. I think with today's win you guys are now like 29-1 in first-round games in the NCAA Tournament. Obviously you guys are one of the more if not the most historic program in women's basketball. What is it about just being able to be that dominant and being in the tournament every year, and not just be in the tournament every year, but advance and move on?
COACH WARLICK: Well, you all know we've had such a rich tradition of women's basketball, and it started with Coach Summitt, and it's up to this team and our coaches to continue that culture.

At times the last couple of years we hadn't been at our best. But it seems like in tournament times, these kids rise up and they accept the challenge. And it is a culture. It's what they come to Tennessee for, is to play an NCAA Tournament and compete for championships. So if I can just get them to act like the tournament's all year round, I'd be in business (laughing).

But I've said all along, they're kids that work hard. They work hard. But we let things get in the way sometimes during the game.

All in all, I will say this: This last two weeks they've been the most focused that I've seen them pretty much all year. They've been tuned in, focused and asking a lot of questions, meaningful questions. So I'm just was pleased with how they played and how they finished the game. It's a product of how we've been practicing.

Q. When you say that you let things get in the way during games at times, do you mean physically or mentally with this game?
COACH WARLICK: I think both. I think mentally we check out sometimes. We have in the past. I think we're in really good shape. I think sometimes we don't box out, and that's a physical part of the game.

It just goes down to just the game, when we're clicking on all cylinders and everybody's doing their part -- tonight I ask them: You've just got to bring me your best. Just bring me your best. And I thought they did that tonight.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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