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March 3, 2018

Raegan Pebley

Kianna Ray

Dakota Vann

Amy Okonkwo

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

TCU - 90, Oklahoma - 83

THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations on the win. Your thoughts?

RAEGAN PEBLEY: Man, Big 12 is so tough. I really, really believe we are one of the toughest conferences in the country, and I think it elevates even more once you hit Big 12 Tournament. Because everybody really feels most of the time going into it that you can beat anybody. You get everybody's best.

You know, I think today just was an accumulation of growth for our team. That we were in this spot last year with a very, very young group, 10 freshmen and sophomores last year, lost a lot of games last year in that fourth quarter and this year it was a focus in our development, building the mental toughness and physical endurance and fortitude to be able to finish games out and also come into the conference tournament with more in our tank to give.

We were pretty empty last year when we came here physically and emotionally. This year I really feel like we still had a lot in our tank left and the performance tonight, I think, showed that.

Q. For Kianna Ray in the pride of Bowie High School, big lead, cut to 1 and a lot of time left in the third quarter. What was the mindset of the team when it seemed like Oklahoma had everything rolling?
KIANNA RAY: We're prepared for that. Everyone here is a great team, so good teams are going to fall down and get back up and start swinging. We answered and we stayed up and kept energy up and positivity up and kept pouring into each other and kept positive talk.

Q. Amy, what were you guys able to do to limit Vionise Pierre-Louis in the paint?
AMY OKONKWO: We tried to be really physical on her and pushed her out of the key because if she gets the ball 2 feet in the paint she'll score. So we made sure that we tried to keep her out of the paint and my teammates helped me with their congestion and just trying to choke up the ball.

Q. Dakota, do you guys talk among yourselves as teammates about what the future holds for you after this tournament is over? Because you were in the mix for the NCAA a few weeks ago and then not too many people have been talking about it lately. What does this win do for you?
DAKOTA VANN: It means a lot, but we more so need to worry about being where our feet are and worry about the present. We have to take care of things now to worry about what can happen in the future.

Q. Amy, you guys were able to really get a big lead because you were able to hit 3-pointers early and you got clean shots off. Talk about your offense and how that came together for you guys?
AMY OKONKWO: Well, something that we prepare for in practice, we prepare for transition and we got out and we ran and people got to their spots. Whoever was playing not point had their head up and was ready and willing to pass the ball and it was just great ball movement and that's how we got open and I got my shots, too, from my teammates.

Q. Dakota, how do you feel about the performance you had in your hometown?
DAKOTA VANN: I mean, it's awesome and I had a lot of fun. But I wouldn't be able to have that success without my teammates. A lot of that comes from them.

THE MODERATOR: Okay, ladies, we're going to let you go back to the locker room. Congratulations. Questions for Coach?

Q. Coach, could you talk about the fact that you took Vionise out of the game and that opened some things up for you but your perimeter play won this game today with the threes and things like that. Talk about how far your guards have come this season?
RAEGAN PEBLEY: Statistically I know that was a huge part of it, but the respect that our program has for Coach Sherri Coale and OU and also seeing what they've been doing as of late and how they're getting it done. We knew that we had to have a mindset ready to come in and try and fight for every loose ball, take advantage of every little moment in the situation that we could. It was going to take that to beat those seniors in Coach Coale's squad. We also felt like it was going to be something where their first 10 seconds of defense were going to be really good. We needed to show patience and move the ball and let a lot of people touch the ball, and I think that's what created some of those good, open looks for us.

For a player like Amy who has come off the bench all year, who is one of the more efficient scorers in the country, her commitment to whatever the team needs -- she came in and, you know, at Oklahoma state didn't play a lot of minutes in our last game and still stays confident and has a game-ready mindset.

So that was huge. But we knew even if we came in and hit 12 threes against them, if we didn't win loose balls, if we didn't rebound, if we didn't take some charges, those threes were going to be really worthless. So I think those other things is what helped us get that dub today.

Q. You touched on this a little bit, but what did you guys do to create those be opportunities to create that separation in the early part of the second quarter when you guys got control?
RAEGAN PEBLEY: I think defense was huge. Defense in the paint on Vionise was really big, off-ball defense was right where it needed to be a lot of times. So we could get into transition. Our conditioning level, you know, that's something I've praised quite a bit, our strength coach and our athletic trainer and what they've done to prepare our team to go into the tournament with more in our tank. We were able to get our posts outrunning the floor on their makes and misses and not show a fatigue factor. That tempo allowed us to find rhythm offensively.

Q. Coach, you guys shot 39 free throws. Was it part of the plan to push the issue there and create the not opportunities? Also there seemed to be a discrepancy in the second half --
RAEGAN PEBLEY: Jump balls?

Q. Yeah, the possession arrow. There was an initial one --

Q. And seemed like secondly --
RAEGAN PEBLEY: Three times.

Q. You got an explanation on that?
RAEGAN PEBLEY: The jump ball situation, it's a crumby rule, but it is what it is and the officials executed it correctly. There was a jump ball. They got the ball inbounded. Whether it's a player control fall -- offensive foul or defensive foul prior to the ball getting inbounded the possession arrow stays with that team. So that had happened multiple times, and that's why the possession arrow never changed over.

The officials of course executed that the right way. And your first question? I have to remember what that was -- oh, free throws. Second-half free throws were big, and I think the number is elevated because they started fouling us early. But in the first half they got to the foul line a lot more than we did.

That's just something that myself as a coach I try not to focus on that too much because sometimes that's more of an uncontrollable and if you're trying so hard to get to the free throw line it can force you to miss shots you should finish. Just great to see us convert there, especially when you get there that many times.

Q. Coach, can you talk a little bit about the physicality and some of the runs in this game and how your team overcame some of that adversity?
RAEGAN PEBLEY: I'll take it back to preparation and that's, you know, the team in practice, our strength coach, and our athletic trainer, putting us in a great position coming into this. Helping deal with the physicality.

I think it's also preparation. This is a returning squad. A lot of members that were in this spot last year and knew what a first-round game was going to feel like and the sense of urgency people were going to play with. Last year we were a bit of deer in headlights, and like I said, I didn't think we had a lot left in our tank. This year this team is still hungry and when you are hungry and feeling physically strong you cannot only handle physicality but assert it.

Q. Coach, as you said last year you guys didn't make it to the semifinals. This will be your first in your program. I was curious, when you were up at halftime and you kinda lost that run, what did you tell the girls to help pick them back up?
RAEGAN PEBLEY: We breathed a lot in our timeouts. We talk about be where your feet are, win possessions, don't focus on the score so much as win possessions, win the defensive stop, win the offensive possession. And we talked a lot about go into the paint, find your opportunities in the paint. We wanted -- we felt like Amy and Jordan were productive there, we could play -- if they weren't scoring we could play some good inside/out basketball. We talked about doing a better job defensively. They got a lot of that run in transition. Had we had better offense it would have helped our defense but they still had enough situations in the half-court where we weren't as locked in and we were in that second quarter.

Q. What does it mean to give it some perspective, to get this win that's basically playing at home that was on the bubble, had a lot to play for, and you stood strong against that?
RAEGAN PEBLEY: There's a lot of things. One, it's a program that I respect the heck out of. You guys understand I had to play against Sherri Coale when I was a player and watched her build that program as a player and as a coach. We serve on the Kay Yow Cancer Fund board and she takes a leadship role and that's huge for us. The RPI was huge for us. We were able to get a win against that high quality of an RPI team and against a team where you look at their last ten games what they've been able to do. They're playing their best basketball right now with seniors leading the way.

That were so many things -- and I really believed our team could do it, I really believed our team could do it. What was so cool is I didn't have to sell 'em on it. They believed it. Huge! Huge for us and you gotta keep taking it one game at a time and see if you can build on it.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, thank you. Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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