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March 4, 2018

Joe Tartamella

Maya Singleton

Tiana England

Chicago, Illinois

Creighton - 66, St. John's - 58

JOE TARTAMELLA: Certainly obviously congrats to Creighton. We know there was a lot on the line for both teams, so congrats to Jim and their team. I think I've always had a lot of respect for what they do and how they play.

We didn't do a good enough job, I thought, throughout the game, especially in the first half, of executing the things we had gone over throughout the week, and then I thought we really played well to come out in the second half, made a minor adjustment, and I thought we played well enough where we took the lead, and then unfortunately had some slippage in some situations that we had had in the first half.

I was pleased with our effort for the most part, and I thought they just played harder than us at times. We got out-rebounded, which is difficult to deal with, and when you're trying to win a game, especially in the postseason.

But I'm proud of what we've done throughout the year, especially with our team. Maya to my right will still have games to play, I believe, to finish her career, and she's just had a tremendous season, so I'm really happy for her, and obviously our younger players like Tiana and Q. I think we've come a long way.

So I'm pretty happy with the effort we give, and certainly you don't want to end -- and this is a first for us really. I think in the five years we've been in the semi or in the final, so this is a new feeling for me and for us.

But at the same time, it's one that you probably need to have in order to continue to grow. I told our team at the end of the game that -- or in the locker room that we had more games to play. We have more things to work toward, and we need to take advantage of every opportunity that we get.

Certainly we're looking forward to hopefully playing in the postseason still, but proud of these young ladies to my right and the rest that were in the locker room.

Q. What was going right at the start of the game and the start of the half that it was hard to maintain after the initial surge?
MAYA SINGLETON: I think we just came out and we was moving the ball. At first we weren't moving the ball or whatever. That's why we weren't scoring.

TIANA ENGLAND: I feel like in the beginning we did have some sort of energy, but throughout the game, we weren't able to execute consistently, and Creighton was.

Q. That dribble drive, all the hand-offs, when they do it for 27 seconds and then go into the paint and get a shot up, how hard is it to keep your focus with all that switching going on?
TIANA ENGLAND: It's really hard to guard a team like that for 27 seconds, yeah.

Q. Maya, when you think about this season, Coach said this team has come a long way. Can you speak to where you were back in November, December, and how this group has grown?
MAYA SINGLETON: I think the team has grown a lot because if you know, in the beginning of the season, we were going into overtime just about every game, double overtime and stuff like that, and then we sort of started to figure it out, and we were getting wins. You know, so...

Q. Tiana, is this something that you guys take and make productive as you have more games to play, an experience that maybe you can learn from?
TIANA ENGLAND: Yeah, definitely. Unfortunately for Maya she's not able to get a Big East championship, but for me as well as the younger girls, we'll definitely learn from this, and we don't want to be in this spot again next year.

Q. What's Maya meant to this team?
TIANA ENGLAND: Maya has brung energy, intensity, heart. She's like the glue to all of us.

Q. Tiana, all season you've done a great job moving the ball as a team. Almost half of your shots came off an assist. Were you satisfied with the way you were able to create offense today?
TIANA ENGLAND: Well, no, because we weren't allowed to win. We definitely didn't have as many assists as we wanted to, and I think that was the difference in the game.

Q. Maya, you're pretty much a double-double machine, so what is that toughness? What is your mindset coming into every game?
MAYA SINGLETON: Just go hard. It took me a long time to get to a four-year, so I know what I've been -- like I appreciate everything that I've been through to get to this point, so when I go out there, I just give it my all.

Q. Obviously it was hard to finish in the paint tonight. How much of that do you feel like was Creighton doing a sound job fundamentally walling up and making the finishing hard versus just (indiscernible)?
JOE TARTAMELLA: It's probably a mix. I thought they did a good job of bringing help and standing their ground, but I also thought we got good looks, and you've got to be able to score and finish in these kind of moments.

It's been kind of what's got us in the games we've lost this year. We haven't been able to convert around the rim. We really didn't shoot the ball well at all throughout the game with, again, the lack of ball movement early. Usually we're able to break free and at least be -- this is probably the best team I've had as far as shooting threes. We made one today and we had one against DePaul. In that game we took 20. At least we only took six today. But I just think we didn't really -- if we would have been better defensively in certain moments where I thought we needed to be locked in, I think it would have been a different game. But we just haven't scored the ball in the last three games, and that's been the problem.

And so we've got to figure out a way to continue to get better and to make shots. I mean, at the end of the day, it comes down to making shots, as we all know. But they did a good job, and they made the ones they needed to where we didn't make the ones we needed to, and I think they got a couple good looks on some offensive rebounds that they make it, they push the lead up to eight, or they miss and we have an opportunity to come down.

We had some empty possessions I thought that were key in the game that would have allowed us to either continue to push our lead or to be able to cut into theirs.

Q. How much of their motion offense attributed to being able (indiscernible)?
JOE TARTAMELLA: Yeah, it worked us. I don't think anything of the motion on that part. I mean, it frustrates me the most when we can't rebound. I thought we just got pushed out of the way, and they got boards, and that's just effort at times.

You know, I think we just have to do a better job of being able to be locked in to contain that. So that's been our -- we've been good with that in games and bad with that in games. The games we've lost, that's been the key focus, to have three turnovers you probably feel pretty good about the game, but in reality it didn't get us anywhere because we only had eight assisted baskets.

But listen, they're well drilled, they run their stuff. He does a great job with them. Everybody is very familiar with everybody. To me it was just more about effort and closing down those gaps.

Q. For this team relatively young and inexperienced, we talked early in the season about that, how valuable could a postseason experience be?
JOE TARTAMELLA: I think it's invaluable. At the same time, it's hard for me because it's the first time in a while that we've been in that position where I wasn't really sure where we'd be at the beginning of the year. Everyone was worried about who was going to replace Aaliyah Lewis, and we knew what we had in Tiana, especially the year prior, which would have been really fun to watch, but she had her injury and came back, and certainly she's going to get better.

You know, so I look at our group, and I have to take a step back because I get frustrated at times knowing the things that we did, especially early, or the teams that I've watched us compete against, beating Miami at Miami and competing against South Carolina and South Florida in a tournament early, you know, and then those couple games that swing you, you lose to Buffalo on a -- you're up two and you lose to Buffalo on a call that was an and-one and we lose, and then we lose to Fordham in double overtime and both teams had played really well.

I thought scheduling-wise it was probably the best job we did in my six years of scheduling non-conference and put us in great position to be in the postseason. However, you still need to win.

And then we came up short in some instances in the league where our youth showed.

I think when you look at our group, it's pretty exciting to think about our future, and I know we've got some really great players coming back, great players who are going to continue to get better.

You know, I'm pretty excited about our future, but still, we're in the here and now, so we need to win some games.

Q. To come in fifth in the conference, is this the best the league has been since reconfiguration?
JOE TARTAMELLA: You know, I guess on paper, yeah. I mean, top to bottom it's probably better. And I think when you look at the games and how competitive they've been and teams even at the top have lost more games than maybe normal, the wins are spread out over more teams, even at the top from the bottom, whatever the case may be, you see what Butler did again today. They've played Marquette really tough twice.

You know, certainly I think the league is improving. It's getting better. It's stabilized. I felt that way even a year or two ago where we were so close to having four teams in, which I think, with Creighton winning today, we should be in a pretty good position to get four teams, get 40 percent of the league. Our goal really is 50 and up.

So if we can ever get there, we'd be pretty good. I think if we ever got five teams in, then we'd have a hell of a league. But four right now is the next step in a way. So it would be great to see that, and I think we've shown that the teams in our league who have played out of conference have done a great job at times and getting some key wins, like Villanova beating Duke this year.

Q. (Indiscernible) did you see that as the ticket to speed up Creighton's offense?
JOE TARTAMELLA: Yeah, you know, we try. I think when you look at the stats, we're probably not scoring at the same rate we have off those turnovers, and so when you look at how we play -- we used to get 15 to 20 points, maybe now we're 10 and below. I don't know -- you may know, actually, so you should probably tell me. But I mean, I think when you look at how we had to play, we probably could have started to at least slow down what they were doing and try to guard for a little bit less time, you know, as I look back.

But when we're locked in, not only do we create turnovers, but we can score off them. And we've had the struggle of doing that in the games we've lost. But certainly we want to do that, we want to speed teams up, but we also need to be able to execute regardless of whether we're turning somebody over, getting transition buckets, or being able to set up what we've actually got over and then execute in the half court.

Oh, and kudos to DePaul; this is a nice place.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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