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March 18, 2017

Katie Meier

Keyona Hayes

Jessica Thomas

Emese Hof

Coral Gables, Florida

Miami - 62, Florida Gulf Coast - 60

KATIE MEIER: Yeah, I don't think that was the beautiful offensive display that both coaches in the crowd probably wasn't expecting, but there were a lot of veteran plays down the stretch, so congratulations to Gulf Coast. I thought they played tough when they started getting hot from the three there. That was their true identity, so their second half performance from the three is more indicative of who they are, and we know that. So when they started getting comfortable, that's why they're so good. That's why they have so many wins on the year, and that's why they were in this tournament at our place. We had to counter that with our inside game, and that was not a surprise. That we knew coming in.

But I think in the first half when they were cold from the three and we broke the rhythm a little bit, give us some credit for that, but we should have taken -- we had a nice lead there that we kind of lost our focus and let slip. So then when it comes down to it, you know, one big three and then they're -- they hit them in bunches, and they did. A couple mistakes late game for us, but we're still alive, and we are very excited for the crowd that showed up for us, and we're excited to have an exciting game for them, and we're excited to continue to play.

We are going to take it, and we're going to move on and we're going to get ready for our next game on Monday.

Q. Keyona, your last play, obviously not the last play of the game, you kind of cut across, you post-up, and then just sort of take us through were you just thinking you were going to overpower Taylor or did you know that -- did you know she was there? What was your thinking when you took the entry pass?
KEYONA HAYES: I felt her. I knew she was there. But she's a lot smaller than I am, so I just took my time and laid the ball up.

Q. Jessica, what does this mean big picture for you guys? Like Coach said, it wasn't offensively pretty at times, but to grind and then to have the lead most of the night and then lose it twice in the final two minutes and survive, what does that mean about where this team is toughness wise right now?
JESSICA THOMAS: I think we're definitely mentally tough. It came down to making veteran plays at the end, and I'll keep saying it, I think I've been saying it from the beginning of the season, but we executed when we needed to. We had a few gutsy plays where a few mishaps and stuff like that, but as far as this team, I think we just had the will to win. We had the will to win, and didn't want to take no for an answer.

I mean, it just came down to being sharp every play, every possession, and just controlling the game.

Q. What were you guys thinking when Motley went out toward the end there?
JESSICA THOMAS: I knew we had a 20-second delay because of the substitution, but it was kind of weird, I was like, Mot fouled out? But when she stepped out, we knew what we had to do. People knew they had to step up, and I think that's what's so special about this team is we know our roles and we know what we've got to do when certain people aren't on the floor. I mean, it was a tough loss, but at the same time, I think we knew we definitely had to make sure we executed this game and finished it off strong for her.

Q. Keyona, back to that play where you posted up, that blocked charge is always a difficult thing. Do you feel there was any dispute or controversy on that play, whether it was a block or whether it was an offensive foul or not?
KEYONA HAYES: I mean, it's the NCAA Tournament, and it's the last like couple of seconds of the game, and I'm just happy the refs let us play. It was a good no-call.

Q. Jessica, just your thoughts on Monday's game?
JESSICA THOMAS: As far as what?

Q. You have another chance to keep going.
JESSICA THOMAS: I think as a team we're definitely excited and we're happy to survive and advance. We've got another tough opponent in front of us coming up on Monday, got to lock and load again, be mentally prepared, lock into the game plan. I know our coaches and the staff, they'll get us right. They'll get us prepared. Just looking forward to having another opportunity to play some more basketball, especially as seniors.

Q. The three-point play with 49 seconds left, that looked like you sort of made something out of nothing, and then whoever cut baseline with 16 left, I forget who that was, who you found on that pass, are you comfortable with just having the ball in your hands in the last minute of a game, because you had to make two very big plays that have kind of been forgotten about already because of the way it all ended.
EMESE HOF: I think I am like comfortable with the ball, and yeah. I didn't even think about it, I think. They doubled key haze, so Key-key was wide open. It was even a pretty sloppy pass. I have to admit that. But she got it, and yeah, we made it work as a team.

Q. Emese, going into Monday you're going to have a much better match-up on the inside. I don't think it's going to be as easy. Not that it was easy, but you definitely had a few mismatches there. What have you guys done to prepare for that, for the bigs?
EMESE HOF: Just like catching the ball high and keeping it high to throw it, basically make lay-ups. But it's going to be different Monday, and personally I'm happy about that. But we'll be fine. We're just going to make it work. Anyway, we have a lot of people we can rely on, and we'll get there.

Q. If you knew three hours ago you were going to shoot 1 for 14 from three and Mot was going to have four, you would not have probably envisioned that you'd be playing on Monday is my guess?
KATIE MEIER: Exactly, no. But that's something about this team. I don't even think last year we could have handled that. I'm pretty sure we couldn't have. And yet we've been in -- we've had a lot of just -- this journey has been full of adversity, and it's been full of gut checks, and it's been full of that's a surprise. I'll tell you, Mot is as sharp as she's been all season. She's been great as we prepared.

You know, and it's not -- I mean, you ask how do we feel when she fouled out. That wasn't this huge moment for us. It just wasn't. Okay, so we got Laura, we got Key-key, and we're just going to keep going.

I think that was crucial, our composure. We just were coaching every possession, every second. We didn't get too big into, oh, my gosh, it's a close game. We expected that, and then it was just a matter of -- I said in the press conference, the preview press conference we had in here that the coaches are going to have to coach very well within the game because these teams are too good to let you go to your identity, and that's going to win the game. The teams are too smart. Every call they called -- every call we called, they knew. The scouting was great. So yeah, you have to do something different. You're going to have to reinvent yourself in the middle of the game, and we did. We went inside quite a bit, and I thought that was crucial for us.

Q. When you have a game like this, when you have two posts that are like head and shoulders taller than anybody who's going to be guarding them, there's going to be a lot of contact, a lot of people on the floor. How much are you concerned going into a game like that that any time there's bodies on the floor, there's a natural reaction to blow a whistle. Were you worried that going to your strength might backfire on you a little bit?
KATIE MEIER: Right, well, I told you the game would be can we play our bigs. Are they going to try to foul them out with their drawing charge action, and then are we going to be able to defend. They had China Dow going downhill and I thought Hof did a pretty good job, but at the end there, they got a lay-up on us and a couple fouls on Emese that she was walling up. That was the whole game, and we knew that. But on that last play, I'll have to look at it for Hayes, but she was very balanced. She was very balanced, and we had practiced balance and pivots and whatever, and we had practiced that because we knew how they would go, and she was pretty deep near the basket, too, so I felt good about it, and we absolutely were going into her with Thomas. The whole play was action to go Thomas to Hayes. We were going to go with our seniors.

Q. Just wondering if you spoke to the degree of rally that they brought to you guys and if in any way a game never comes down to the last two calls if you guys feel in any way -- what's your perspective on the end game, two no-calls, I guess, that you guys were the beneficiaries of, the final basket for you guys for the win --
KATIE MEIER: I think I'm getting your perspective. I'm sorry, but it sounds like I'm getting your perspective.

Q. Do you feel fortunate at all that with what FGCU brought at you guys that you're able to get out of this one with a win?
KATIE MEIER: I feel great about the win. I feel great about the crowd. I feel great about the environment that we had. We executed down the stretch, and they executed down the stretch. They got -- I feel great. I did compliment them when you weren't in here. I thought they did a great job and they did a great job of hitting big shots, and they found their identity in the second half. Yeah, they had a great season, and they deserved every win that they have.

Q. There is commentary on TV about two no-calls at the end, the game-winning basket and their inbound on the final play, that commentary that either or both could have been called as fouls.
KATIE MEIER: Yeah, I think throughout the game, whatever segment you want to pick, you can always do that.

Q. With 8.6 seconds left in the game, tied 60-60, I saw Laura in the time-out, very vocal. Can you share with us what she was saying or what you guys were talking about?
KATIE MEIER: She's just a great natural leader. She's been in a ton of big moments, world championships, European championships, and ever since she's always been playing above her age group, so the first time I saw her, I was the U-19 national team coach and she was 16 years old screaming in her huddle yelling at these 20-year olds. She's just amazing. She was very clear. She had specific questions for me and wanted to make sure she communicated them to the team. You know, she wasn't playing great. She had some turnovers that really hurt us, but late-game stuff, she's in control and real great command.

Q. You know when a team is up all day and then you lose it in the last two minutes, you know that 99 percent of teams probably don't win that game on empirical evidence, but you know what I mean. What's it say about where you guys are that you weren't having flashbacks to last year.
KATIE MEIER: That's the thing. You know, I mean, I'm not trying to give myself credit by any stretch of the imagination, but like you have to be prepared. I mean, these teams are great, and we were -- we got away with a lot in the first half in terms of they got a bunch of threes off and they weren't making them, and so it wasn't like I sat there and said, they're just going to continue to miss all game. You have to have some -- one of the hardest things about being a coach is you have to run through a lot of scenarios prior to the game, and it's hard on you because you have to run through some negative scenarios, too, just so that you're prepared, so that you have a script and you go through them and you know them. So as you're in moments, and then they pop up, you've got to be prepared for them.

You know, clearly Davenport shouldn't have pinched off the shooter in the corner to give them that shot. We talked about it, it was clearly what we did, and I yelled at her in the locker room but I wasn't going to waste the time yelling at her that then, right? That's just not smart. So we coach the next play, and then we got to the locker room and we had a conversation, and Erykah is the greatest kid in the world, but those are things that as a coach you just -- there was still time on the clock and we had something we had to do. We were all very -- just very, very, I thought, composed and calm.

Q. Do you almost feel like the pressure is off a little bit? Now you've got kids that know what this feeling is like? There had to be pressure being at home. It's an advantage, sure, but it comes with additional pressure. Do you almost feel like you're going to get more of what you've been kind of all season Monday?
KATIE MEIER: Yeah, we didn't play our best basketball game of the year, and you want to. I mean, you want to in the NCAA, wherever it is. And I think that the crowd certainly -- I thought our crowd was so positive, so excited. They were -- I got a thousand texts already people are mad at me because they were going to -- their heart rate was up. But I thought that our crowd, the energy was great, and our players had this true belief, and yeah, I'm just -- we're going to keep -- great on the glass, and I'm glad you mentioned Emese Hof because basically the way they were playing, she turned into a point guard. She turned into a point guard tonight, and I ran everything through Emese, and I said at halftime, we're going through Hof because of the way Gulf Coast was playing us, Hof was making a ton of big time decisions for us, and I thought she did a fantastic job.

Q. Can you talk about the challenge you have Monday at Quinnipiac both in terms of their team and also the quick turnaround from a scouting standpoint and also for the kids' legs and all that.
KATIE MEIER: Right. I have never, ever looked ahead. I never have done it in my profession. We just played three games in a row in the ACC Tournament. I had no idea -- came out of the press conference, and my staff is tremendous. They're so talented. I didn't have a particular opinion whether it was going to be Marquette, who we were going to be playing. I was so locked in, I stayed with the team in the hotel and came over on the bus with them instead of watching that game. I only watched a little bit of it. But we can adapt. We have a very, very great IQ on this team, just a tremendous IQ, and they're going to want my plan, and they're going to want it pretty quick, and I'm going to want my plan for my assistant coaches and they're going to give it to me pretty quick, and we're going to be ready. But the team can really take it and we can reinvent ourselves. But I never thought in a million years, like Tim said, you're 1 for 14 from the three and you come out with a victory, and we need three-pointers. I mean, we do. They're a team that kind of dares you to shoot over them. So if you'd have told me that before, I wouldn't have been prepared for that, but I promise, we'll get there. We'll get where we need to be for Monday, and just the crowd is going to be huge, and I hope everybody can really get out in the community and give us that advantage again.

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