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March 19, 2017

Karen Aston

Joyner Holmes

Brooke McCarty

Austin, Texas

Texas - 84, NC State - 80

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Texas, head coach, Karen Aston, student-athletes, Brooke McCarty and Joyner Holmes. We will have a comment from Coach Aston.

KAREN ASTON: First of all, I want to really express a lot of appreciation for everybody that had a hand in this hosting, in particular our group here at Texas. They do a terrific job. Most importantly, I want to thank the fans. I thought today was a really, really terrific environment for women's basketball and they helped us get through this one today.

Lots of thanks and really, really proud of our team. I wrote on the board ironically enough today before the game that it didn't matter what it looked like that we just needed to win. That was a good thing to write, probably, today. But our group never gave in. They showed a lot of resilience and toughness and just really proud. It was a complete team effort, I think, from our part.

Q. Joyner, what did you see on that last rebound? What were your thought processes when you saw the ball coming off the rim?
JOYNER HOLMES: From the first shot it was great, so I thought the second one was going to go in. But I know we do have a method on a free throw line and me and Jada talk to each other and tell each other who is going to go first and second and they came off my side, and I saw the defender. She didn't box me out, so I tried to save it on the first one and it didn't go in so I grabbed it and I put it in on the second one.

Q. Brooke, you guys have been in a lot of tough games this year against really good competition. When you're down 6 or 8 points in the fourth quarter today did you draw upon anything from the past that, hey, we've done --
BROOKE McCARTY: (No microphone.)

Q. (No microphone.)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: -- Always in every game if I didn't do my job my teammates always had my back and they always told me regardless of what you do go out there and have fun and the last couple of games before going into this tournament I don't think I was having fun. I will put it as simple as that. I don't think I was having fun. Today it was really fun and we had a great time and seeing the look on my seniors face and letting them know this is not the last game although we all didn't have our best game we were going to pull it out for them.

Q. Brooke, one of the plays of the game late you stole an inbound pass, play of the day from a defensive standpoint. Talk about what you saw? What was your job, and how do you cut it off like that?
BROOKE McCARTY: Well, when they were taking the ball out they were trying to get it to their point guard. I just read her eyes and I knew that whoever was there guarding her was there until, I knew if I could get a tip, at least maybe we could get the ball or I could get the ball and give it to them. I think it was adrenaline rushing in that moment and knowing what to do.

Q. Brooke, just as big of a play seemed to be that tipped foul. She's got four fouls, at that point are you trying to engage her to get that 5th foul?
BROOKE McCARTY: Definitely. She was great tonight. She really did great for her team, but we knew that she had 4 fouls. So I tried to engage with her as much as I could and get her that 5th foul.

Q. You said you weren't having any fun. What did you do mentally to get out of -- I guess if it was a funk or whatever to get back to having fun?
BROOKE McCARTY: I just listened to my teammates talk to me. Some games I didn't fully hear them. I wouldn't tune them out, but some games I wasn't happy with myself or my teammates. So I think I put off listening to them and them holding me accountable in practices and holding me accountable for whatever is going wrong and I listened to them and I went into practice with a different mindset. Ever since then I think we all pulled together and we've been playing hard and we pulled it out today.

Q. Coach talked about how huge the crowd was. How big was that for you guys your last game here this season to go out like that?
BROOKE McCARTY: Me personally I think the crowd was great. I know coming in here at the beginning of the season we didn't have that much fans. We brought a lot of people along with us and I love playing here and I'm sad that we're going out not playing here anymore. But I love the crowd and I thank them for everything they've done for this us this year and they travel with us, so it's great.

JOYNER HOLMES: They've been great. Today was a great atmosphere. Who wouldn't want to play in their own center in front of that great crowd? Hearing them our there and cheering for us, it was a great turnout today and we fed off of them as much as they have fed off us and we thank them for being the energy booster for us.

Q. Brooke, I think you may have the play of the day. But would you take us through the charge? What did you see her doing and your positioning on the floor?
BROOKE McCARTY: Give credit where credit is due. Spencer and the Wilson kid, they did great. They played their game and executed to a tee, but I knew after multiple plays of them going downhill and sometimes (indiscernible). I just knew that her going downhill as fast as she was coming I could have blocked the shot, but I just didn't think that was the right decision at the time and just letting her body fall into mine and I took the charge and I don't do that often.

It was a surprise for me. So when I took it and I fell and I looked at the ref I thought they called a block at first, but I looked to the ref at my right and he called a charge and it went from there.

Q. Brooke, what does it mean for this program to get to the Sweet 16?
BROOKE McCARTY: I think it's a standard. We come in and work hard every year and just this past year stringing along these Sweet 16s, it's the standard here. This is what you do. So you come here to do this.

THE MODERATOR: We will excuse Brooke and Joyner. Questions for Coach?

Q. Can you address -- I asked Brooke about trying to engage Spencer. That's the sort of play she has been making for you all year, coming up with the three-point shot, drawing that fifth foul. What has Brooke McCarty given you?
KAREN ASTON: She's definitely kind of a calming force for our team. You say a little engine or whatever it is you want to call her, but that's kind of what she is for this basketball team. I think that sometimes she tries to facilitate and do what a point guard's job is. But I think she has grown in the sense of understanding what is the moment where she needs to make plays.

She didn't really understand that at the beginning of the year. At the beginning, I think she tried to do too much and then as the year has gone on she has grown into knowing what moments are best for her to shoot and really -- I don't want to say take over, but definitely make plays when they need to be made.

Q. The size and the quickness and their strength. Talk about the ups and downs, and did you see someone that you know will be great one day?
KAREN ASTON: I'm assuming you're probably talking about Joyner the most of all and definitely the other two had an impact on our game today for sure. But the roller coaster for a freshman is pretty normal. I've never seen one that doesn't ride the roller coaster. The thing that I've probably been the most impressed with about Joyner is that she has never backed down from the expectations here at Texas.

In particular, the expectations that everyone had for her. She had the typical, I would say, moments where she got some hype and then had to learn how to handle that and stay focus and had then she went through the moments of I'm tired and I've never been this tired before in my life and I don't know how to get through this.

But I still have been impressed with how she has handled her freshman season. Lots of expectations. She came in here as Player of the Year from a high school perspective. Some people go into situations where they might have expectations, but the window of opportunity isn't there for them to have impact like she did. She stepped into a role that was very much needed in our team. We hadn't had a power forward since Neka graduated, really, and for her to step in and take that responsibility I've been impressed with. Sure there's moments when you want her to be better and more grown but she has handled it pretty well.

Q. Karen, can you address getting back into the Sweet 16? Third straight year. Brooke called it a standard. I guess that's what you wanted when you got here?
KAREN ASTON: Most definitely. There were some steps that had to be taken for us to get to the level of consistency in the way that we do things, call that culture, standard, whatever it is that you want to call it. But most of it comes with recruiting and most of it comes with recruiting student-athletes that have that standard.

You can have it as a coach and Texas can have it as a university and as an athletic program, but when you recruit players that that's their personal standard to be the best they can be then it helps you get to where you need to be from a program perspective and she along with many others that we have on our team have a personal standard.

Q. You guys shot lights out first quarter, couldn't miss. But then the second and third quarter things went south. How were you able to marshall your resources and get 'em back especially with those two guards going against you guys?
KAREN ASTON: Well, the first quarter was really special for us, and then we got into that good 'ol foul trouble that we seem to get into every game. I was really proud of our young kids and the way they responded. They made shots and made plays and then I thought the second quarter they got a little fatigued. If you notice I had to use timeouts where I am not accustomed to using them and that was to get them a break and get them to breathe for a second. And I think when they got fatigued that's when they stopped paying attention defensively and that's where they got their guards going and flip to the other end. He went to the box and one on Brooke, and we avoid that defense when Ariel and Brooke are in together.

Speaking to the question you asked the players, there wasn't anything that we hadn't seen this year. We'd seen that before, but the second quarter I thought we responded with too many quick shots, not trying to get the ball inside where we could have. Then I thought that we got into a little bit better rhythm in the second half with an understanding of how to guard and then we went to the triangle on Brooke and Ariel. But we did a better job of getting them in the action and those are things I think we learned along the way in the Big 12. Everybody threw us junk. I shouldn't say everybody but a lot of people did. We had to handle it. That experience paid off today.

Q. In the locker room when you were talking to the players you said you can tell by the look on their faces that they were going to win and you've said that before in a lot of close, big games. Where do you think that comes from?
KAREN ASTON: Today it was collective. There's times when I think it's Brooke and Ariel or times when it's Bri and Kelsey. Today it was pretty collective. There was engagement with all of them. They were all really encouraging with each other. Nobody had negative body language, anything like that.

I think it was maybe led by the older players, but I definitely think the younger players at times this year have kind of felt sorry for themselves when things weren't going their way and today they all kind of carried a different mindset like we're just not going to let each other down and that's what happened in postseason play.

I haven't said anything about North Carolina State, but they were special today. Those guards were really good and we couldn't help ourselves from fouling them. We just couldn't adjust to them going downhill, Joyner said it best. Then when we talked at timeouts about making them make extra passes and being in help we just couldn't get there in time. I thought we made some plays down the stretch. Audrey, Kelsey, Joyner, our posts finally made some plays and helped us out.

Q. You guys were 11 of 12 from the free throw line in the final quarter. Talk about how big that was for you.
KAREN ASTON: We've definitely grown up in that area. That was an achilles heel for us quite a lot of the season. That old saying, I think Jody told me that, don't talk about it. If you're not shooting free throws well, ignore it. It will come around at some point. We did stop talking about it. I noticed that about two weeks ago that we were starting to shoot free throws more consistently.

Q. Joyner said that people may have been surprised she drew the charge?
KAREN ASTON: It's probably the first one of her life. Let's be real.

Q. How do you think she did on that play?
KAREN ASTON: I looked at it in the locker room because obviously there were a lot of calls that, I mean, you just look at 'em and in the heat of the moment, I mean, who knows, you know? Blocked charge is a really hard call. The game was probably hard to call. I would have to say that. But I did look at it and she was set. She was definitely set.

Q. You've had some really good defensive minutes from Brianna Taylor going up against some of the best guards in the country and you were setting offense and defense. Talk about your role players and how they did?
KAREN ASTON: They were the difference in the game. I feel quite responsible, really, for not managing them better in the second quarter. They got on that run and it's kind of fool's gold sometimes and they kept shooting shots that were quick and not great ones.

I should have given them some more tools in the second quarter for us to be better. Again, I thought they got fatigued, too, and they stopped playing defense. That's where we lost -- we lost our lead defensively in the second quarter, but you can't -- I thought they were all huge. Shug was confident today. She looked like a confident basketball player and I've just been waiting on that, because she is such a special player. Nobody has really seen the real Shug yet because she did come in off of an ACL and she is going to be a special player at Texas.

Lashann gave us big minutes. I thought Jada gave us really good minutes in the first half and then the last, but definitely not least I thought Audrey was huge for us. She got a couple of offensive rebounds and she sort of -- I thought our post players kinda stood around a little bit too much and Audrey was the one that we were able to point to and say, okay can everybody else give the same effort that she is on the boards? And all of the sudden she started scrambling and getting offensive rebounds and I thought the hustle plays and the scramble plays were huge for us and Jordan gave us good minutes. Everybody that came in gave us something.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

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