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March 4, 2018

Carolyn Kieger

Amani Wilborn

Natisha Hiedeman

Chicago, Illinois

Marquette - 73, Butler - 61

CAROLYN KIEGER: First of all, I want to congratulate Butler. I thought they did a fantastic job. They played great yesterday, and obviously took us out of our rhythm for a majority of the game. I thought our team handled adversity really well today. Obviously we didn't play our best game, but we got our jitters out of the way. We got used to the rims, and I thought our defense held steady there and really got the momentum going with our press. And obviously Amani Wilborn, if you don't know, it's also her birthday month, so I think that might have something to do with it.

But obviously I can't say enough about her. She led our team in pretty much every category tonight, and I thought her confidence was through the roof, and just watching her play today, it made me more confident, so I give a lot of credit to her.

In terms of a team, I mean, great team win. We had some huge plays from everybody tonight. Everybody stepped up in big-time moments when we needed it, but I'm proud of our maturity down the stretch.

Q. Natisha, coach just brought up about your maturity; was this sort of a game that exemplifies what you guys have gone through this year, where you're always having a target on your backs and you found a way today?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Yeah, I think our coach does a great job like just replicating it in practice, putting us in tough situations, and that's how we basically handled adversity today. I think she prepared us really well, and the outcome showed.

Q. Amani, why were you able to have so much success today?
AMANI WILBORN: I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff and my teammates. We've been preaching confidence and having swag the whole 40 minutes.

Q. Is there something about the Big East Tournament? You're on a roll in Big East Tournament games. Do you love the bright lights?
AMANI WILBORN: I love March, period, just being born in March. Just March Madness, I just love the whole thing.

Q. How much did last year's run really help you prepare for this game and kind of result in that 26-point performance?
AMANI WILBORN: I think just knowing last year just teams would slack off, and we have so many scorers they really can't pick one person to just target, so just all of our team being scorers, I think that just helped a lot.

Q. Amani, obviously you're a talented scorer. You're also in the 10 percent in the country in assists. What are you looking to do out there?
AMANI WILBORN: I kind of just go with the flow whatever I see. If I have the open shot, I try to take it. I always look to create for my teammates, though; I was a point guard in high school, so that was like my first thing, to look for my teammates. So play maker, whether I score or my teammates score, is the way.

Q. Natisha, can you just talk about what Butler did to really limit you and Allazia in the first half? You guys shot 3 of 14 combined.
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: I would just say that the zone probably got us a little bit, and we needed to attack it more.

Q. How does this feel different from where you were a year ago? Obviously there's a location change, but just with your overall team?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think playing on the road is obviously different. This group, I think it's going to help us -- help prepare us for postseason in general. It just feels more like a conference tournament for us that we're not sleeping in our own beds and in our own arena, so obviously to get used to that. This was a great first game for us to get used to that, and obviously we've been never in this arena before. It's gorgeous. We had a great fan base come down to the game tonight. But in terms of feeling different, I just think that we understand how to win ballgames in different ways. You know, last year it might have been just pushing pace. This year our defense can do it, our rotations, and I think that's what I'm most proud of is we've evolved as a team. When our offense isn't -- you go, well, we're not shooting the three well, let's get some turnovers. I think for us that shows our growth.

Q. What's life like in a huddle with this Marquette team knowing that these ladies have been through this kind of stage before? Is there more in their hands in a run like this?
CAROLYN KIEGER: It's funny you say that because there was a time-out tonight where I thought I was doing all the talking and they were just head nodding, and at one point I said, I need dialogue; I need more back and forth conversations. Tell me what you're seeing, tell me what you're feeling. And I think once that kind of happened, they started to get more engaged in the game, and then the time-outs started to be more of a collective unit versus me just getting after them or whatnot. So that's another part of the maturity that I'm starting to see in accountability and them working through situations versus me just telling them what to do.

Q. Amani, again, with that 26-point performance, she's done it before. Anything different you've seen this time around?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I would say the way she's stepping up into her three. It might have been last year that she would hesitate a little bit first and then let it fly. Tonight she stepped into a couple that she knew she was shooting it, and she was confident with it. She held her follow-through. So I think that's the biggest difference right now is the way she's shooting the three. Obviously she's always been a fantastic finisher around the rim.

Q. And then she seemed to have a lot of success, especially relative to Natisha and Allazia. Anything in particular that you saw from the defense that led to Wilborn's success?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I mean, they were giving us the three all night. Anybody, and I think she was the one who stepped up the most confidently and just let it fly. Even Natisha, she struggled 3 for 10, but she hit a huge one, and she stayed in it and stayed engaged, so I think Amani just did a good job of feeling out the game.

Q. All season you guys have been able to hold opponents to a low percentage shooting. After a rough first half on both ends of the floor, how were you able to reengage defensively?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, I think in the first half they were just dribbling it in the paint every single time, and I challenged them at halftime, I said, clearly they think we can't play one-on-one defense right now because they're bringing it to us, and I said, this is a pride thing, a one-on-one defense, and think our kids started to compete a little bit more, and they started to have one-on-one accountability. But that first half, I mean, everything was in the paint. I think they were 1 for 4 at the time for shooting threes, and they only had three assists, so everything was off the dribble, so we talked a lot about that at halftime and tried to make them more so play makers than drivers.

Q. You shot a lot of threes today. You shot 29 in total. Do you think that was part of Butler's strategy to kind of give you guys the outside shot and force you guys to maybe take more --
CAROLYN KIEGER: Yeah, absolutely. They packed the paint, and they wanted to keep us out of our driving attacks off ball screens, and that was their game plan. I think we settled a little bit too much at times for threes, and when we shot them second half, we seemed a little bit more confident but out of our rhythm. We'll try and fix that in film tonight, sessions, and just make sure that we're confident regardless of what the defense is giving us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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