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March 19, 2018
Texas - 85, Arizona State - 65
KAREN ASTON: I'm just incredibly proud of our basketball team. Just the effort that the entire team put forth tonight, in particular in the second half. The energy and enthusiasm that they're playing the game with right now, and then just the fact that this is our fourth year in a row to go to the Sweet Sixteen.
You can almost tell that -- I don't want to say they're getting used to it, because we told them not to ever take it for granted, but you can tell that they expect this. I know they want bigger and better things, but this is a great accomplishment for these particular seniors. Just because all four years they were able to do this.
But, again, there's a few upsets came about today, and I told them in the locker room not to ever take this for granted, or not to appreciate how great of a season and in particular these two how great their careers have been. Really, really proud of our team.
Q. Brooke, you weren't having the greatest game ever, by your standards. In the third quarter you erupted and took over. What was your mindset when you went on that 12-point quarter?
BROOKE MCCARTY: I just went out there and played, and whatever was open, I took it. My teammates did a great job finding me. They did a great job with box being out and stuff like that. So I just tried to help them as best I could.
Q. Were you disappointed in yourself before that point?
BROOKE MCCARTY: I think every player's disappointed if they don't think they're playing up to their standards. But right now it's not about being disappointed. My team was playing great. So it's not anything that's on my mind. I'm more focused on our team winning.
Q. Ariel, all that said, they're looking at you like you were just kind of showing off in the third quarter because you were so dominant? Did it seem like she was show being off because she was so good in the third quarter?
ARIEL ATKINS: It was Brooke. I started smiling halfway through because I just realized this kid was going off. It was really fun to be playing with her and seeing her smiling. Just seeing her being Brooke again, free flowing. She was having fun playing the game.
Q. Ariel, 42 was a problem for you guys in the first half, getting to the line, making shots. What did you all do to take her away in the second half?
ARIEL ATKINS: I think we did a better job of guarding her as a team, and not leaving whoever is guarding her individually on an island.
Q. LaShann, you had a hot first quarter. What did you see out there and what was going well for you?
LASHANN HIGGS: Well, I realized that at the ball reversal there were lots of driving lanes. So I tried to take advantage of it. Just tried to be aggressive for my team and these two ladies right here next to me.
Q. You guys shot 61% two games in a row now. Is the offense just clicking better right now than it did during the season? If so, why?
LASHANN HIGGS: I would say that it's having more discipline on the offensive end. The discipline to reverse the ball. The discipline to make the right pass. I would just say it's becoming more of a team effort. So I think that's the reason why.
Q. Brooke, could you describe the sense of urgency y'all played with tonight?
BROOKE MCCARTY: I think it was just the excitement of being here for the last time. I mean, Arizona State's a great team, and our fans were incredible tonight. So we just fed off of their energy and we fed off of each other. We knew this would be the last time we'd be able to play in front of our fans this year, especially on our homecourt. So we decided to go out there and give it our all.
Q. How did you not cry when you came out of the game? Neither one of you cried.
BROOKE MCCARTY: Oh, you know, I don't know.
Q. Can you address getting back to the Sweet Sixteen for a fourth time. What kind of standard of excellence do you feel like the senior class is having?
BROOKE MCCARTY: Well, I think it goes back to our coaches. Their body of work is amazing. When you follow something like that, you have no choice but to be great. So I think it just goes out to them and how hard they work. Everybody's just following suit. Everybody's buying into the process. Everybody's buying into the program.
So I think this is what Texas should be every single year, but like Coach said, we can't take it for granted.
Q. Ariel, it seems like we've been talking about this for weeks now. But it is your last game now. Your emotions, your thoughts about playing in it, especially playing at your best when it was your last game?
ARIEL ATKINS: You trying to get me emotional? Yeah, it is hard. Coming into this program I was honestly blessed by God and for him to carry me all the way through this. Just to be a part of it and see it grow from the ground up. It's been a journey, and I'm really thankful and blessed to be a part of it.
Q. Brooke, you've got ten rebounds tonight, game high ten. When you're getting at it, and turning and moving, what is the first thing in your line of vision is you're heading back to the court in transition?
BROOKE MCCARTY: I think our guards run really hard in transition, and Coach has been preaching that we need a rim runner, and I'm just looking up to see whoever is open at the time.
As far as rebounds, we just go back to how hard our posts work. They boxed out really hard tonight, and they had their hands full with the two posts on the other team. I just tried to clean up anything we could, because especially for the guards to get into the rebounding game.
Q. Ariel, do you think you guys are playing your best ball of the season right now?
ARIEL ATKINS: There are definitely some things that we can clean up, but I think we have progressively gotten better over the year.
Q. When you were almost subbed out by Coach, you both sort of stood on the logo and looked up. What did that feel like and what did you say to each other?
ARIEL ATKINS: I don't think we said anything. I actually realized that that was it. You know, you look up and there's a minute left on the clock, probably not getting back in.
Q. Did you want to go back in?
ARIEL ATKINS: I think our younger players were doing a good job. I think they're learning. I think when somebody's number is called, they're showing up. So whatever Coach puts on the floor, I feel like we can produce.
Back to the last part subbing out, I just kind of looked around and looked at Brooke and I was like, wow, it was kind of moments like we're actually done here. So, yeah.
BROOKE MCCARTY: I think she said it all. Yeah, I think at that moment we just realized it was our last time playing in front of our fans. Playing here at the Erwin Center. Just can't put it into words.
Q. Mide was amazing tonight. Your thoughts on her having this breakout game when you really needed that inside force?
ARIEL ATKINS: Mide's been working hard all year. If you guys followed her closely, she's honestly probably one of our most improved players over her time here. So for her to go out and allow herself to be awarded for her work tonight was just so amazing. I'm so proud of her for her game tonight.
BROOKE MCCARTY: Her number was called and she was ready. I think that everybody's saying this is a breakout game, but this is where Olamide shows us every day in practice. And just to see her have fun with it and go out there and really just want to fill her role and be the best that she can. Especially with her smile. I don't know if you saw her smile, but I'm just really proud of her, like Ariel said.
THE MODERATOR: LaShann anything else?
LASHANN HIGGS: They said it all.
Q. Ariel, how much do you know about UCLA?
ARIEL ATKINS: I actually do know some of them that play on that team. They have a good point guard, and they can rebound the ball very well.
Q. Is there any sense of relief getting past? You expected to win. You played two games at home, but you said you can't take it for granted.
KAREN ASTON: I wouldn't call it relief in the sense of, well, yeah, we made it from an expectation standpoint. It's more I'm glad we're rewarded. So when you start to think, today, all day long, it was a long day. My thoughts were more towards them getting rewarded for the work.
I mean, I know you have to go out there and play, nobody's going to hand it to you. But sometimes as a coach, you have teams and it's like they win and maybe they didn't deserve it. But this is a team that I think they earned it, and I wanted them to perform at their best, and I thought they were pretty close to that in these two games. You put the two games together, and they've been pretty ready. I'm proud of that.
Q. The luxury of having senior guards who can take over a game that was not as crisp as you had wanted, could you tell us a little bit about what your thought processes were in the third quarter as you watched your seniors show their experience and took over that game?
KAREN ASTON: Well, I've had a lot of trust in them all year long, and there's been a lot of games that I've had the privilege of watching them take over. Today was -- I mean, I was really proud that Brooke decided to take shots. I mean, sometimes that's what it boils down to for Brooke.
She's really embraced the point guard role this year, and it's crazy to say because she's obviously been the point guard for the last two years solidly. But this year there's been sometimes where she hasn't taken shots in games where we maybe necessarily needed her to, because we do have a lot of options. I thought she let the game come to her today.
She could have forced some stuff in the first half, but I think she could recognize that LaShann was sort of rolling in the first half. But I thought that -- and I think that's the great thing about our guard play is that once one gets going, I think people forget about the other ones, and I think that may be a little bit of what happened in the second half and some stuff opened up for her that wasn't there. But what she's grown into as a point guard is one that doesn't force the issue.
I thought she just -- I thought maybe it was the excitement and the nerves maybe the first half. But I thought she got us into flow better in the second half also. It wasn't just about the scoring. I thought she was a better floor general in the second half.
The first half she seemed a little -- we seemed, not just she, but we all seemed a little rattled maybe because of the early foul trouble, and we threw some combinations in there that weren't normal. But I just thought that she was in a much better flow and pace in the second half, terrific half.
Q. Your thoughts on these two playing their last game at the Erwin Center and what that means to you?
KAREN ASTON: Well, it's a great feeling to know that -- I mean I think any senior, when it's all said and done, what they want to look back on, I mean, you just want to always say I did the best I could. I think I maxxed out. Whether it be -- the greatest feeling of all is to win a championship and be done, because there are no regrets from there, but that hasn't happened but to one team every year.
So the rest of them have to finish up and say, okay, did I do my best? Did I absolutely max out with my career and those two can sleep well. I mean, that, as a coach, you're really happy for players that know that they're ready to move on at some point, and they've gotten the most out of their careers. And I think those two have.
Q. How nice has it been to see this team really take care of business and have -- I don't want to say they were easy games, but relatively stress free coming down the stretch. So whatever you've seen today and yesterday, a handful of upsets of higher seeded teams losing at home, and teams really having to -- and other teams really having to sweat it out at the end of games?
KAREN ASTON: Well, I think that it just goes back to their preparation and the fact that you can tell that they're not ready for this to be over.
I've experienced teams that leapt into postseason play, and you might have a few that just give you this vision that I'm ready to go do something else for a few months or this team has never given me the impression of that. I mean, even when we've had failures, they've come back the next day ready to go, and their preparation was really good for this tournament.
I thought we were ready to play against Maine. I thought we were ready to play today. I think they're showing that. So it's good to see that they're still climbing. They're hungry. I don't think they're satisfied with anything, and that's fun to coach.
Q. During shootaround today, did you have the players visualize the Sweet Sixteen banners? Is that the legacy of at least the two seniors?
KAREN ASTON: I think that's one of their legacies. I know they're striving for more. But we definitely looked up and noticed that. I think 1990 was the last year that there was a run of Sweet Sixteen appearances. I think I was actually fortunate enough to be here in the three in a row, and the 2000s, and then the three in a row that we were on until today.
So just, you know, wanted to let them visualize that and see that they could make a little bit of history or do something that hasn't been done in quite some time.
We've kind of lost the numbers game since Imani graduated. So every once in a while LaShann has to tell me something to remind them, because Imani did that for everybody. She did all the numbers homework. But LaShann is the one that made me aware of that. I mean, we're just living in the moment. I didn't even think about it. But, yeah, that's a great legacy for players.
Again, their look in the locker room was pretty relaxed. I mean, that's a big deal.
Q. There wasn't a wild celebration?
KAREN ASTON: Not at all. Not at all. I think they were more worried about where was the food. Half of them had pretzel they were already eating. Yeah, I think they have bigger goals for sure.
Q. Talk about the challenge UCLA presents to you?
KAREN ASTON: Yeah, they're really good. Seeing them a lot, just randomly watching Pac-12 games in the middle of the night when you can't sleep, then we've got to look at them, not purposely, but in prepping for Arizona State.
We're very familiar with them. We've played them. We've scrimmaged them. We're very familiar and they're a really, really good basketball team, but I thought Arizona State was. I thought we did a great job on the boards tonight.
I'm so proud of our team just in a sense of how good Arizona State has been on the boards at times this year. Looking here and they have five offensive rebounds. I think they had five at half. So I'm not sure if that's right, but I'm pretty sure it is. So really great job.
Q. Mide had 7 boards in 11 minutes and she seemed to be an inspiration to the other players. Could you talk about what she was doing that inspired the others?
KAREN ASTON: She was defending. I mean, let's start right there because we were having some trouble with our post players in the first half. She decided to kind of get up the line and kind of keep them from catching the ball a little bit. She got on help side and made that block. She did some really simple stuff tonight that made the difference in winning and losing, really simple.
Q. The farther you go in this tournament, the bigger the teams get. Post-wise she could be a factor. What's her mindset that told you she was ready to answer the bell and you called her number?
KAREN ASTON: Well, the thing that I noticed about Mide this year as we've gone a long is that she's put in the work, Ariel's absolutely right, and her improvement has been quite dramatic. What's been holding her back is letting go and performing in a game the way she performs in practice. So I think this was a breakthrough.
And she's had a few other moments where it's been encouraging for me to feel like she would do the things that we need her to do. But this was definitely a breakthrough in a big moment, which should give her an enormous amount of confidence as we move on.
I mean, she definitely has done the work. It's just been transferring that into the games.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports