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March 3, 2018

Kenisha Bell

Gadiva Hubbard

Marlene Stollings

Carlie Wagner

Indianapolis, Indiana

Ohio State - 90, Minnesota - 88

MARLENE STOLLINGS: Tough one for us. Credit to Ohio State, certainly. They're a great team. They're a great team, and every little detail matters when you're playing a team of their caliber.

For us, the disappointing part for us is we had about a four-and-a-half minute stretch there in the fourth quarter that we thought our decision making and transition could have been a little bit better, and that scoring drought really hurt us. I thought we controlled the game. Third quarter obviously we were up and had a chance to control it there. But that drought really made it difficult for us and gave them a life.

But credit to them. Mavunga and Kelsey, obviously two of the best players, Kelsey in the country, Mavunga in our conference. But I'm really, really proud of our kids and how they fought and how they battled. This is a team that's come a long way. We're not done yet, so that gives us a little bit of relief in this tough, tough moment. We were just one shot away from playing on Championship Sunday, and it stings for quite a while.

Q. Carlie, what Coach said, that you guys aren't done yet, how quickly can you turn the page after such a tough loss?
CARLIE WAGNER: Yeah, like Coach said, it hurts. We wanted to go all the way to the championship game, obviously, but we can't let it sting too long because we've got a lot more to do and the NCAA Tournament coming up. So looking forward to that, and we've got to bounce back and we've got to fix the things that hurt us today and obviously work on those for the next game.

Q. Carlie, you started the game off about as hot as can be. I think you had 19 first-quarter points. What kind of went into that? What were you seeing that got you that open?
CARLIE WAGNER: I mean, the shots were just falling at that point. They were giving me a little bit of space, and I felt comfortable shooting, so I was just putting shots up. My teammates were finding me at the right time.

Q. Kenisha, talked about what Coach talked about, the last four minutes. Was there anything they were doing defensively or did you feel like you guys just didn't get the shots that you wanted?
KENISHA BELL: I think we just was rushing. We thought we had something in transition, and instead of pulling it back out and settling down and staying poised, we were kind of rushing it. I think that kind of messed us up in the long run.

Q. Gadiva, talked about that second quarter, what happened after you got hit, and then you were able to come back and obviously made a big impact in the second half. That obviously showed a lot of toughness on your part.
GADIVA HUBBARD: Yeah, it was kind of scary, being that I had broke my nose before, but I couldn't let that mess up my game, so in the second half I just had to come back stronger like it never happened.

Q. Going into this game, I know you talked a lot about before today just playing in that championship game. The NCAA Tournament was the goal coming in, but it seemed like after yesterday the goal kind of took toward playing for a title game?
MARLENE STOLLINGS: Well, we came here wanting to go 3-0. We looked at this as a brand-new season, and we had a chance to come in here and win it, and that's how we approached it. We didn't approach it any other way.

You know, there's a long history of not getting to this game for our program, our university, so we didn't want to be into a moral victory of just being happy to play in the game today. So that's what we talked a lot about coming into the tournament last night and also our prep today is not to just be happy because we're playing in a game that we haven't played in in 12 years and only played in once in the history of our program, but rather let's change that culture, that mentality, and let's go in here and start being a team that contends for this championship, and we're obviously headed in that direction.

This was good for our team and our returners to get a taste of what it's like and just how minute every single detail matters when you get to this level, and I think we'll certainly have some takeaways from this for the NCAA Tournament without question.

Q. Do you think the general athleticism and skill it seems like in the Big Ten, a few years ago it was kind of knocked for being plodding before you got to Minnesota, and I was really impressed with how many athletes and what the skill was out there compared to maybe three, four years ago. What do you think?
MARLENE STOLLINGS: Well, certainly there's been progression over time. I actually played in the first Big Ten Tournament 25 years ago when it was known as a conference such as that. But I think what you've seen in the last four to five years in particular is a progression to more athleticism. That's the way the game is played. When you look at the elite in women's basketball, top 10 in the nation, top 5 in the nation really, that's the style and type of play.

I think we've done a good job of getting our team up on that level with our recruiting and being able to compete with the Ohio States of the world that have, obviously, the elite athleticism on their team in many ways.

Q. This is a great atmosphere, obviously here playing versus Ohio State. It's the type of competition that you're going to see in the NCAA Tournament. Does that help prepare you guys for -- it's been a while since you've been there, and I think Carlie is the only one that's played in the NCAA Tournament before.
MARLENE STOLLINGS: Well, she is. We're real thrilled and excited. Fingers crossed, obviously, that we're going to pop up there on selection Monday. It'll be our second time in four years, and really pleased for the program to be making that stride. You're right, you play at this level, and that's one of the things I spoke about in the locker room, as difficult and hard as it was, there's always a lesson to be learned in a win or a loss. It's really tough for them, and I really hurt for them because you're right there. But yeah.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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