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March 7, 2018
Las Vegas, Nevada
Nevada - 67, Wyoming - 63
AMANDA LEVENS: Well, just congratulations to Wyoming. They had an incredible season, they beat us both times in the regular season, they were both close games, just like tonight. They're an established program. I have a lot of respect for them. They're a really great team.
After they lost their last game in the regular season, they came out yesterday and started a little slow against New Mexico, then they really had it going in the second half. We knew we needed to come out strong to match how well they were playing. They started the game like that.
I was proud of our team how we responded. We got down quick, I think 5 or 7 to nothing, and then clawed our way back, and once we had the lead we didn't give it back, which was nice.
Q. So the first two games, T, we talked about you and your second-half play and how you sparked the team. But tonight Teige really came up with clutch baskets, especially shutting down that 6-0 run, you had a reverse layup. For you, Teige, being nice that you have her to step up for stuff like that, and Teige, what you were seeing tonight to be able to bury those shots at the right time?
TEIGE ZELLER: What was I seeing?
Q. Just as far as their defense.
TEIGE ZELLER: Honestly, I don't know. I don't know. I just, I knew that this was a big game. And I wanted to get to the championship. And I can't explain how it happened.
Oh, another thing, like yesterday specifically I know that I had a few non-clutch moments. And I really didn't want that to happen. And we talked about how we don't want anyone to try to be the hero. And we've got to just let the game come to us. And I think that is the key. And I think that's what I allowed myself to do.
T MOE: I think what she said with not trying to be a hero is really what has helped us. As far as yesterday's game and the day before, you guys are saying that I kind of put the team on my back or whatever it may be, but it's kind of just how the game happened. Same with tonight, Teige was open or made herself open or whatever it may be, and she got to the basket when we needed D her to. And we all have confidence in each other to do that.
Q. Talk about turnovers, only three for the entire team. Talk about that a little bit. Is that the best game you guys have played in terms of handling the ball all year?
T MOE: Definitely. I didn't know we only had three turnovers. That's really good. I think just being in our own style of play, like we didn't let them force us to do anything that is not what we do. And counting on each other as teammates really helped us.
Q. If both of you could talk about how your confidence has grown from the first game to the point you are at now, playing for the Mountain West title.
T MOE: I think we've all come along with ups and downs as far as like individual confidence. But right now what we have going for us is that team confidence and believing in each other. When one person is down or having a weak moment, we're able to pick each other up.
TEIGE ZELLER: I agree with that. We talk about the power of team, especially in this tournament. And that's what's really brought each of us in. Like you said, T Moe has had awesome games. We each take some part in it. And it all starts with the power of team. And every player has a part in that.
Q. You didn't want to go into overtime tonight?
T MOE: No, we were a little tired, we want that day off tomorrow.
Q. How have you been able to grind through all the games you've played and be so strong at the end of this game tonight?
T MOE: Comes down to that gut check I keep talking about. And we came here to win and that's what we want to do. It doesn't matter how tired you are, everyone is tired, we're not going to use that as an excuse.
Q. What do you feel about Boise State, what do you have to do that game?
TEIGE ZELLER: To be honest, I was just doing one game at a time. So I'm going to celebrate until midnight and then focus on Boise tomorrow. But I'm really excited. I think they're a great team and it's going to be some great basketball again.
Q. T, you guys would be the lowest-seeded team to ever win this tournament. Currently it's 5 and you guys are 7 seed. I imagine you don't feel going into this like you're an underdog.
T MOE: Definitely. And I feel like all season we've kind of been the underdog, we were picked second to last. And we finished 7th, and to us that wasn't good enough. We're going to come out fighting and showing what we have.
Q. You talk about the power of team. This was a team that had I believe six conference wins but you don't play like that, you don't look like that this week. When did that kick in? Was it the UNLV win and the regular season blowout? Was it the start of this tournament? When did that thought process begin to get you in tournament mode?
T MOE: I only feel like we've been a team. Most of our losses, besides a couple, have been close games we were fighting in. It's just now we're feeding off each other a little bit more. And as I said, we have more confidence as a team. Whereas before, when one person was getting down, then someone else was getting down; now we're so strong we just pick each other up.
Q. If you can describe this run in this tournament in one word, what would it be?
TEIGE ZELLER: Fun. So, so much fun.
T MOE: Just being in this conference for six years, I've had a relationship with each coach. And he just told me best of luck, we did great, and go out there and get the 'ship.
Q. What would it mean to both of you to win this tournament and go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in the school's history?
T MOE: Man, that's surreal. To me it's just really a blessing, I didn't think I'd be playing basketball at this point. To even make it this far I'm thankful and grateful. To keep going, I can't even put it to words, I'm just thankful.
TEIGE ZELLER: I would definitely have to echo that. I haven't had six knee injuries, but just so grateful to be able to go out with a bang, essentially, my senior year. And kind of leave a legacy and be able to be the pioneers of this program.
Q. You guys lost 8 of 9 over the stretch. And it would have been easy for the team to fold it in, say, We gave it our best try, it's just not happening this year. What about this group of women that did not allow for them to have that mindset?
AMANDA LEVENS: I think as coaches we never let them go there. We kept focusing on what we were doing well. The very few details we needed to do better to win. In that stretch I think only two of those losses were double digits, one was 11 points. We were in every game and had a chance to win.
So being right there we learned a lot of hard lessons, and I just kept telling them, Just keep buying in, keep working. And I also told them I really hope this clicks before we run out of time. The last week of the season, okay, it's clicking, and it clicked at the right time fortunately for us.
But they're understanding our defensive system, they're understanding the offensive system, they're understanding about the power of team you hear them talk about. It's not about me, but how can I help the team. Maybe tonight I don't get any shots but I defend, maybe I just rebound. Whatever it takes for our team to win, each person is really trying to do a great job of what it is for them that night.
Q. In a tournament like this when a 7 seed gets on a run, you feed off that momentum and adrenaline day after day. You have a day off. What do you do it to keep that flow tomorrow in order to carry it over a five-day stretch rather than three minus one and then the championship game?
AMANDA LEVENS: I think for us we're going to do what we always do. We're extremely consistent with how we come back after a game, how we prepare, how we just recover mentally and physically, and we don't change anything. For us it's another game. It has more on the line, but if we give our energy to that we're not going to be focused in on what we need to do and let's play our best basketball.
It starts with the coaches and how we lead them. You just heard from two great seniors that understand the importance of going out and performing when it's time to play.
For us with such a quick turnaround, I know there's a day off, but we play at noon and it's going to be midnight before we get into bed so we're really playing in 36 hours. We need them rest and recover the best they can tonight and tomorrow get them as energized as they can be on Friday. There will be some adrenaline. Like they talked about, we're not talking about being tired. Everybody is tired, it's March, everybody is a little banged up. It's about getting it done. There's no excuses. Whoever plays better on Friday is going to go to the NCAA tournament.
Q. What do you think was the key to this game? Three turnovers is a pretty incredible stat.
AMANDA LEVENS: Yeah, we didn't execute our last two offensive possessions. Again, being in that moment I thought we kind of like panicked a little bit. But it's a great learning lesson because maybe we'll be there again on Friday and do better.
Yeah, taking care of the ball was huge and having the extra possessions. When they were fighting back, if we weren't getting shots on those possessions, it could have gone the other way really easily.
Q. Do you feel the team is a team of destiny?
AMANDA LEVENS: I have no idea, to be honest. For us we're just preparing the same way we've done all year, and trying to win the game in front of us. And like they talked about, Teige is not giving any energy to anything besides winning tonight.
We're just trying to stay in the moment. I talked to them all year about enjoying this as a student-athlete. It flies by. You blink, you're like, Gosh, freshman, summer school and conditioning, it's so long, and then all of a sudden you're like a senior and you're like, Where did that go? We really want them to be in the moment, enjoy this ride. This entire season not just this tournament week.
They'll look back. They're making great memories. I think they're laying a great foundation for our program to come down here and play well. The kids that we have coming back next year, when they come down in this tournament, they'll have more confidence because they had success here this season. We signed six new players, they can help teach them what we expect when we come down here for the tournament.
Q. If I could follow-up what I asked the ladies as far as these first two games prior to tonight we talked about T and her second-half sort of sparking the rest of the lineup. But tonight with Teige and those key buckets, just timely buckets really to gradually build her total, especially that one that kind of cut their 6-0 run off, fighting underneath and finding a way to bury that and keep that momentum going.
AMANDA LEVENS: Yeah, I think for her she finally got a good catch where she could be effective with it. Wyoming did a great job of guarding her pretty much the whole game and making everything tough for her. And she finally got a good catch in a good area for her and she was able to make a move that she's really comfortable with and just play reactionary. When they did a good job on her, it make her off-balance and took her out of her rhythm.
But on the catch, that's exactly what she needed, and she did what she's done all year for us, one of her go-to moves and found a basket.
Give her credit. In that moment, like she said, she wasn't trying to be the hero; just trying to get a basket against their zone because we were struggling. This is what she's done all year for us. It like, This is what I'm supposed to do right now, and then she has to go on the other end and defend. I don't think it's anything more than, I'm a senior and I have to score for the team. I don't think they're thinking about that. They're thinking about in this possessions this is what I need to do.
Q. These last two nights I've asked you and T the same question, because you were sort of on your heels, backed into a corner and what the message was and it was, Hey, you want it, go out and get it. This time you were at an advantage and you were playing well, what was your message tonight to keep the momentum flowing?
AMANDA LEVENS: I was probably a little harder on them because we had some lapses, like with not boxing out and breakdowns on defense. We had a play where we subbed and they ran down to the front of the rim and got a wide open layup because we weren't matched up. You can't do that and win a conference championship.
I was probably pretty hard on the people that had mess-ups in those situations. Honestly, they just responded. Teige was one of them. She went out and had a couple of key buckets. Then Terae Briggs, same thing. She was kind of upset on the sidelines, you probably saw that, and she responded, went out and helped us get a stop at the end of the game.
You talk about toughness and resiliency. They responded the best way they could when a coach got on them versus like hanging their head and saying, Poor me. I think that's what our team looks like when you talk about just bouncing back from mistakes and how they respond to negative situations, and that's why we're still playing, I think.
Q. When you started practice in September, October, did you fathom you could be one game away from the NCAA playoffs in your first year back at Nevada?
AMANDA LEVENS: Yeah. For us, we believe we could compete for a conference championship in the regular season. I did. Coaching our team, watching them on film when I took the job, I didn't feel like we were that far a way. That's one of the things that intrigued me about the job.
And it took a little longer than I wanted it to to get us, like, winning those games. But with all of our close losses, I think anybody that watched us can see that we're right there. But our team has never won consistently. We had to learn how to win. We had to have a lot of close, tough losses to really understand how to get over the hump and not do things in those situations that was making us beat ourselves.
So like the three games that we played here, we've stepped up and taken those games; we couldn't do that a month ago.
Q. I know you want to enjoy this before midnight, how do you feel the matchup is with Boise State?
AMANDA LEVENS: They're a tough matchup. They're playing really, really well right now. They went up to Wyoming and won that last regular season game. That was a tough game. They have really good guard play, really good post play. I think their defense is really good.
It's going to be a tough game. We need to come out ready to play. I feel like they're playing well. I thought Wyoming was playing well too coming in to tonight. I thought they started our game strong.
It will be tough. Every game here has been tough so far. We just have to come out ready to play.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports