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March 16, 2018

Carolyn Kieger

Allazia Blockton

Erika Davenport

Natisha Hiedeman

Louisville, Kentucky

Marquette - 84, Dayton - 65

CAROLYN KIEGER: First of all, I just want to say what a difference a year can make. I'm really proud of our team and our staff. I thought we came out very focused and with a mission. This group is really, really fun to coach, and obviously you can see that by the way that they play.

My favorite thing about them is their chemistry and their versatility. Any given night, we could have four or five players go off for 20 points. Tonight they did a phenomenal job finding Natisha, playing off one another. So it's fun. Fun to win in March. And we're excited to have a chance to play Louisville on their home floor.

All I can say is I'm supremely proud of these girls to my right and the rest of the girls in the locker room.

Q. Natisha, you really had it going at the beginning. What did you see from the defense that they were giving you?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: I just had open shots, and Coach was kind of giving me the green light. If you have open shots, take them. And that's pretty much for anybody. So I was just taking the shots that I saw.

Q. And this could really be for any of you guys. You did a really good job getting in the passing lanes. How much of that was a point of emphasis, and why do you think the execution worked out so well?
ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: That was a big goal of us coming into this game. We knew they were all versatile, they all can shoot. So a big part of our defense was denying, and I think we did a really good job of having our hands in the passing lane at that moment.

ERIKA DAVENPORT: Like she said, that was a big game plan of ours. Just getting in the passing lanes, trying to set up our offense on the other side.

NATISHA HIEDEMAN: I would just say that we've been amping up the pressure and intensity in practice, and I think that carried over to the game. It showed. I mean, the amount of turnovers they had kind of benefited us.

Q. And to Erika, after Natisha really had it going, it seemed like you got some good looks. Did it help that she was drawing so much attention from the defense?
ERIKA DAVENPORT: Most definitely. We love to go inside-out. So when Ti was -- she was on fire tonight. It opened up a lot of things for me. She found me on a lot of plays.

Q. Allazia, you didn't really have things going right away, but you pick it up in the second half. What do you think kind of led to that slow start?
ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: Just over thinking my shots. Some nights it's not going to go in. But I'm the type of player I can get it going fast, and I score in bunches. Coach is just preaching to me keep my head in it, and I think I did a great job of it, just kept my head in it. Ti was hot. When she's shooting like that, I don't really need the ball anyway.

She was doing her thing, and that's one thing about her team, like Coach said, anybody can go off. I was just playing off her and waiting to get the open shots, and I knocked them down in the second half.

Q. Can you talk about what kind of clicked after that opening run, stayed calm and battled back from an eight-point deficit early?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Can you repeat the question? Sorry.

Q. Can you talk about what just clicked after that opening run by Dayton, how you guys stayed calm and were able to battle back?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: We caught a pretty quick time-out, but our coaches told us just get our heads back in the game, play our game, and after that time-out, we just started picking up the tempo and finding the open players and just kind of shut down their run a little bit.

ERIKA DAVENPORT: Like she said, we just took a deep breath, just kept playing. I felt like a lot of us were anxious. So we just had to calm down and play our game.

ALLAZIA BLOCKTON: Just to piggy-back off what they said, like she said, Erika said, we were anxious. We had a lot of good looks, and we were just missing them, over thinking them. So once we got in the huddle, Coach told us to take a big deep breath, and I think that calmed us all down, and we were able to go on a run after that.

Q. Excuse me if you've already heard this question, but when you're down, Natisha, could you have expected to have contributed so much yourself, to have those three-pointers, I guess, as the first 15 points, to really get your team back in the game?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Well, I just -- it's March. If you lose, you go home. I'm not trying to lose. So I just kind of took it into my hands for a hot second and tried to put the ball in the hoop. My players -- my teammates, they realized that I was hot, and then after the first quarter, then we were just finding each other.

So basically, I just didn't want to lose. None of us want to lose.

Q. So I asked players about it, but I'll ask you about it. Really great job getting into the passing lanes. What was -- how much of an emphasis was that going in? And why do you think the team executed it so well?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think we talked about their three-point shooting ability a lot over the last five days. Like the players said, we wanted to get in the deny and make sure that we were trapping ball screens and had our hands up. We compete for the most deflections on the team, and obviously that's a strength of ours to be able to turn the ball over and get the tempo going.

I think our players bought in, and they worked really hard tonight. I think they played -- or they played personnel better than they've played in a long time, which was phenomenal.

Q. Could you have expected to make so many threes? Aside from what she did from long range to really turn a game like that, just to keep it from getting out of control.
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think, just like Natisha, our entire team scores in bunches. And when we're hot and we're confident, we're really hard to defend. I think that's what happened tonight. One player got hot, and we feed off each other's energy. Then Allazia knocked down three threes as well.

For us, we feed off each other's success, which is, I think, the most fun thing to watch on our team. You see their smiles. You see their energy, and you see them celebrating each other. When that happens, I know we're in good shape.

Q. As a followup, what was the most important thing that you saw in that early stretch before the time-out to really kind of get things under control? What weren't they doing?
CAROLYN KIEGER: You know, I don't think it was anything we weren't doing. I thought, like they said, we got great looks. We missed a bunch of bunnies around the rim. Obviously, our hearts were pumping a little bit. We just needed to settle in. Needed to slow down a little bit and focus on the game plan.

I thought our team did a phenomenal job of weathering the storm and staying tough and battling through adversity, which is something that we've talked a lot about since the DePaul game. So I'm really proud of our toughness and how we handled that.

Q. And as you were saying about being in deny mode really meant that you guys weren't really spending that much time in your half-court offense and a lot of time in transition. What impact do you think that had on the team's offense tonight?
CAROLYN KIEGER: I think any time we can get out in transition and we can flow into our offense versus walk the ball up, that's where our team is most comfortable. So when we can get our hands on loose balls or we can get tips and deflections and we're running at a full head of steam, that's when I think we're playing off each other the best and finding each other versus dribbling up the court and slowing the game down.

Q. And looking ahead to Sunday with Louisville, got a chance to scout them a little bit before this, what are your initial take-aways of what they do well?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, when you're the No. 1 seed, you do a lot of things well. I think we're just really excited for the opportunity to play a No. 1 seed on their home floor. They have two really high level scorers, and we're going to have to do a really good job on Hines-Allen. They're big. We've got to pack the paint and make sure we can rebound with them.

I think we have an advantage in the open court, and I think our girls will be excited for that matchup. At this point, we have nothing to lose. I think we will love the opportunity to come out here and see what we can do.

Q. How much of this is a program kind of statement when you were kind of waiting for that hurdle, didn't get it last year, and now you finally get an NCAA Tournament win?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Yeah, I think we've been waiting for this moment the entire year. I still remember the locker room feeling at the end of the Quinnipiac game. I think our players were really motivated by that. They were really disappointed last year, and I think they came out and proved that their hard work over the past year has paid off.

When you sit on that feeling for an entire year and you finally get the opportunity to redeem yourself, I think we did it in a big fashion tonight. I'm very proud, like I said, of our adversity. This wasn't just how we played tonight, I think this is a reflection of how hard we've worked in the last year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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