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March 31, 2017

Erica McCall

Alanna Smith

Tara VanDerveer

Dallas, Texas

South Carolina - 62, Stanford - 53

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Stanford.

We'll take an opening statement from Coach VanDerveer, then we'll take questions for the student-athletes.

COACH VanDERVEER: First, I'd like to congratulate Dawn and her South Carolina Gamecocks. They worked really hard. They had a really aggressive second-half plan, came out and really did a much better job in the second half.

I mean, Dawn and her staff have done a great job. They have a terrific team.

I'd also like to congratulate our team on a great season. I'm so proud of our team, how hard we fought. We really struggled with the third quarter. For us, with Karlie (Samuelson) not being 100 percent, that really hurt us a lot. We really got out of sync and never really got it going in the third quarter. That was disappointing for us.

I'm exceedingly proud of our team, how hard they played. I thought Alanna stepped up big. They battled in there. We will hold our heads up high leaving Dallas.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Erica, what was it like going through that third quarter, like nothing would go in the basket?
ERICA McCALL: It was rough, frustrating. But my teammates talked to each other the whole time. I'm really proud about how we kept communicating. I mean, kept shooting. Unfortunately they didn't go in.

We battled back in the fourth quarter. Alanna hit big shots. I'm glad we battled, even though shots didn't go in.

Q. The first half your team did a great job, then things started slipping away. Was it anything they were doing differently or that you were doing differently? How do you account for them having such a strong third quarter?
ERICA McCALL: I think they got aggressive, started to read where our double was coming from. She started attacking points. She's a good player. She read the double well.

Q. Erica, could you talk about Marta's (Sniezek) play in the first half. She really looked to score. She was great distributing the ball. What did that do for you guys?
ERICA McCALL: Her pushing the ball gave us a lot of energy. She really locked down some key layups for us. Got that big and-one for us. I was really proud of how she performed. I look forward to her doing that all next season.

Q. Alanna, there's been a lot of talk about the leadership of the three seniors on this team. You have more years left at Stanford. What did you take away from playing with them?
ALANNA SMITH: Well, I think one thing that our seniors do really well for us is stay really level-headed, even when we are down, which we have been at points throughout our season. We stay really calm. It doesn't get to our heads. Yeah, that's just a huge tribute to our seniors.

Like you guys said, our shots weren't going in. But we weren't worried about it. We continued encouraging each other. That came from our three seniors. That really helped our whole team.

Q. Alanna, off the bench in the first half, you led your team in rebounding, which is astounding. Did you feel that you were moving at a slightly higher gear than normal the first half? Everybody was moving so fast up and down the court.
ALANNA SMITH: I couldn't really tell, but I think that's one thing that we've really been focusing on, is keeping our pace really high and pushing the ball up the court. That's something that our point guards have been doing really well, and our bigs do really well, as well, is run the floor.

I think that worked really well for us in this game, yeah.

Q. Erica, your coach talked about how proud she was of the team. As a leader, any thoughts on how proud you are of what your team has accomplished this season, given your start?
ERICA McCALL: I'm so proud of my team. We've been through a lot, especially this past pre-season. We worked our tails off to get here. I'm super proud of how my senior teammates helped lead the team with me.

I can go through one by one of how much I love my teammates. But ultimately we worked our tails off. We got here for a reason. There's nothing to hang our heads down about, as Tara said.

Just proud of them, really proud of them.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.

We'll continue with questions for Coach VanDerveer.

Q. Tara, what was it about this South Carolina team that was so tough for you in the second half? Was it their shooting, the rebounding of (A'ja) Wilson, the speed? What were the things that really cooked you in the second half?
COACH VanDERVEER: Well, I think that our team got a little out of rhythm, even at the end of the first half, when Karlie came out. We did not come out as aggressive as we needed to be. I thought we were really short on a lot of shots.

I don't think we got to the free-throw line, what, twice, if that, in the second half. We turned it over too much. We just never could get it. When we had a nine-point lead, they got back right in.

For us, honestly, we just really struggled without our glue out there, Karlie, twisting her ankle. Really kind of gave us a tough time.

For Karlie not to score... We need her scoring. I think it was a great effort by Bird (McCall), a great effort by Alanna. Brit (McPhee) really struggled offensively. Marta I thought did some really nice things in the first half. We needed her to be a little bit more aggressive in the second half.

But, you know, without Karlie, we really struggled.

Q. Tara, curious how much you feel your defensive game plan went according to plan. You held them to three threes. A'ja Wilson, most of her shots were on put-backs. Did the defensive plan start with aggressively going after those doubles and sometimes even sending a third after A'ja?
COACH VanDERVEER: Well, it didn't look good when the first shot was a three by (Tyasha) Harris. But, you know, I thought defensively, the first half, I mean, they shot 14% in the second quarter. I thought our defense was okay.

The problem was, we gave up second shots. (Allisha) Gray got in on the O boards. They got too many O boards and they put them back or they called fouls on the O boards. I don't think we've ever all year been 21-5 at the free-throw line.

I mean, we didn't rebound well enough. We had too many mistakes with the ball in the first half especially, turning the ball over. Our turnovers, some of the little traveling turnovers, were, I mean, unforced errors. We kind of shot ourselves in the foot with that.

We were out of sync. We really depend a lot on Karlie, Marta, Alanna. Without her, we really struggled.

Q. Having Karlie less than 100%, I assume considerably less than 100% after the injury, is that as much of a psychological hit as it is what she brings on the floor, her shooting, that kind of thing?
COACH VanDERVEER: Yes. I mean, she's really been the glue to our team the whole year. She talks. She makes big shots. If someone had told me before the game, She won't score, I'd say, We're in trouble.

She scores for us. She defends. She takes charges. She couldn't move. We tried. She wanted to play. We wanted her to play. One of the first possessions, Gray really took it right at her. Then we went with Bri. Psychologically and physically, it was a challenge.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about A'ja Wilson's impact on the defensive end. Seems like she was altering a lot of shots down there.
COACH VanDERVEER: Yeah, I mean, she's an All-American. She's a terrific player. She blocks shots or she changes them. What did she end up with? 19 rebounds? She's on that glass.

She really, you know, came out in the second half. I think Dawn probably challenged her, and she responded.


COACH VanDERVEER: Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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