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April 1, 2018

Roshunda Johnson

Vic Schaefer

Blair Schaefer

Victoria Vivians

Morgan William

Columbus, Ohio

Notre Dame - 61, Mississippi State - 58

THE MODERATOR: Joining us on the dais from Mississippi State, head coach Vic Schaefer, student-athletes Blair Schaefer, Morgan William, Roshunda Johnson, and Victoria Vivians. We'll begin with an opening statement from Coach, and then I'll take questions for the student-athletes first.

VIC SCHAEFER: First of all, congratulations to Notre Dame on a tremendous basketball game. Just like I saw on Friday night, there's a tremendous passion, a relentlessness, a toughness, and a resiliency to that bunch, and they're to be commended for that and for how they played today.

At the same time, my bunch has got the same thing. This is the toughest, most resilient team I've ever seen. Their competitive fire and competitive spirit is second to none. Again, congratulations to Notre Dame, but I'm awfully proud of this group.

You're up five with 1:40, it's my job to get them home, and I didn't get them home. It's always been my philosophy up four, down four, as a head coach, it's my job to get them home inside of four minutes. And I didn't get them home today. I'll wear that maybe for the rest of my career.

But I'm proud of them. I thought they fought. These four seniors are so special. They've done so much for me personally as well as professionally. They spent time at my house. I've had dinner with them numerous, numerous, numerous nights, more nights than you can count. Spent time obviously at the gym with them over the last four years. This is a high character, classy group of seniors.

We've got great kids coming in. I've still got great kids in that locker room. But the integrity and the character of this group is something I've not seen. I'm so proud of them. I'm proud to be their coach. I'm proud of their fight. They're going to be so successful in life because of their grit, their determination, and how they embrace the grind of life as well as the grind of basketball.

It hurts right now. Again, it's not their fault. They played their hearts out, and you just got to give Notre Dame credit. They made one more play. We talked about it in pregame. These games come down to one more. That's been our motto. It's on our national finalist ring a year ago -- one more. It's been our calling card all year -- one more. Notre Dame made one more play tonight, so we congratulate them. And at the same time, these kids right here are champions, 37-2. That's hard to do. Especially living in my league.

So I'm proud of what they've accomplished, and I'm just proud of them as individuals. I just think they're the best. Three of them came to us and have been with us four years. Ro turned us down the first time, but she came back to us and been with us the last three. What a blessing. She had another big shot tonight. I thought tonight was going to be another shot where you'd be talking to her about a big shot she made that helped us win a National Championship. But she made another one when we were struggling to score.

Q. Morgan, sort of take us through that wild scramble at the end. What did you see? Did Teaira foul on purpose knowing that there were two wide open Notre Dame players under the basket?
MORGAN WILLIAM: I believe so. I got tipped, and Teaira ended up passing to me, and I just saw Tori and got a deflection. Notre Dame ended getting it and she just fouled. I think there was somebody open for a layup down the court. She fouled.

Q. Did you get a foul?
MORGAN WILLIAM: No whistle, so it wasn't a foul.

Q. Ladies, congratulations on a wonderful career. Thank you for everything. Victoria, can you talk about that final play and how you guys wanted to defend it? It looked like you were right there with Arike on that final shot.
VICTORIA VIVIANS: We wanted to defend it, but we didn't deny the ball. Me and Ro was supposed to deny her and not let her catch it. So she caught the ball and we got shut off, and she made it.

Q. Ro, can you talk about that shot that you hit on the right wing. Looked like you had a pump fake to get yourself some separation and got it off just before the shot clock.
ROSHUNDA JOHNSON: I just thought they was dropping heavy to the corner, and once I pump faked, I saw her jump, and nobody was in front of me to pretty much shoot. So I took the shot, and I ended up making it.

Q. For Blair, what do you think -- you guys had a good lead. What do you think changed? What changed in the game?
BLAIR SCHAEFER: We didn't get two stops when we needed to get stops, and they obviously executed on offense and got two big buckets. And then the game was tied.

Q. Victoria, we've asked you guys kind of all weekend about the legacy of these four seniors. What do these three next to you mean to you, and how proud are you of them just for bringing all you have to State?
VICTORIA VIVIANS: They mean the world to me. I'm glad I came in with this class. I'm very proud of them. I'm proud of the whole team as well, for them to come out here and do what they did today and last year. It's never been done at State. I'm so proud of them, and I thank them for being my teammates.

Q. Blair and everyone, congratulations on the season that you've had and the careers that you've had.

Q. Blair, I saw, as Vic was talking about taking responsibility you just shaking your head, as a player and also as his daughter, what's going through your mind right now with what you guys have accomplished?
BLAIR SCHAEFER: He said it was his fault because he didn't get us home, but at the end of the day, we have to go out and execute. But he's always been accountable, and he always takes everything on his shoulders. I think one time we need to accept that we didn't make that one more. But I'm just proud of him for getting us back here and being able to experience this with him has been really special. So I don't think it should be his fault, and I don't think anyone should think it's his fault either.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.

Q. Coach, congratulations on a wonderful season. The defense in the first half was so good. Percentage-wise, their adjustments, those percentages would indicate they made some adjustments offensively and then defensively. Can you address what they -- what adjustments they made offensively and what adjustments they made defensively in the second half?
VIC SCHAEFER: They stopped trying to run any offense. They just put their heads down and drove to the rim. That happens sometimes. Our defense is so good, if you've got kids that can drop their head and go to the rim, and that's basically what they did. They just decided to stop doing that. They even tried to post us still at the guard a little bit, but it never really bothered us. I was concerned about that.

But at the end of the day, they just put their head down, went to the rim, and tried to get fouled. They went inside. Their big kid was 8 for 10, and we had a hard time dealing with her. And, again, you give her credit. We just had a hard time handling her.

I mean, to me, you took their biggest weapons and held them to 6 for 21 and 2 for 7. You know, the two kids that we're really concerned about that had such great nights the other night, Mabrey goes 3 for 9 with nine turnovers. I don't know what else we could have done. Offensively, we got really good looks and couldn't make a shot. The Achilles, we're a great free-throw shooting team, and we go 10 for 17.

Too many turnovers against the zone. Good gosh, 15 turnovers. We started the game with five. Really disappointed in our start. You know, we forced 17. They end up shooting 42 percent, 22 from three, but they made the big one they needed to make. We just -- we had some really good looks that we didn't make. You know, we got deep in the shot clock, which is uncommon for us a lot. Out of bounds plays, not knowing the shot clock. That's uncommon for us. You know, I don't know what to attribute that to, but we had some real -- just some real lapses where we just didn't realize what the shot clock was even after talking about it in a time-out.

So I was disappointed. We really wanted to attack the zone and split it and try to create, and I didn't think we did that either. I thought we were -- we really appeased them and just threw it around and reversed the floor instead of trying to split it and creating. That was something we talked about.

So it was a heck of a first half. You give them credit. They answered in the third quarter. And then the fourth quarter is a knock down, drag out. We had a chance and don't get it done, and they make the one play.

I still felt like, even with Tea fouling out, we go to overtime, we're going to win the game. That's just how I felt about it, but I thought we defended the play pretty well. The kid made a shot. Pat her on the butt, man. She made a great shot.

Q. Vic, you had a time-out when it was a tie game, and I guess that's the play you drew up with Tea getting the layup. I mean, is that what you drew up?

Q. She wasn't fouled on that one.
VIC SCHAEFER: I mean, I'm going to her every time. I tell her that in the locker room. I'm calling that play. I'm going inside. I'm going to let my All-American have a bunny. She's going to get a drop step dunk, and it just -- it didn't fall. She's had a heck of a year. She had another double double tonight. I've got so much confidence in her.

And you know what, I think she got to her spot, not their spot on that one. It just didn't fall. But we still went down and made a play defensively, had a chance coming back. I was screaming time-out. I don't know if anybody saw it. I mean, the right people didn't. But I was screaming, Time-out.

But, I mean, it's a bang-bang deal. It's hard. I get it.

Q. Vic, this year, compared to last year, you wanted to make sure you guys had more energy and things. Did you feel like you prepared differently and in a way that you saw that tonight, that you guys had the energy that you wanted to have after giving it all on Friday?
VIC SCHAEFER: Absolutely. No question. That team is averaging 94 points a game, y'all. How many times have they been held to 61? They got their 59th, 60th, and 61st point with three seconds to go in the game. We guarded the crap out of them.

We had a hard time scoring tonight, and we got some really good looks. Like I said, we got deep in the shot clock, which is uncharacteristic of us. Part of that's execution. Part of that, you got to give them credit. We've been playing that zone all year. It's not like we just started it.

They're handsy. They do a great job of stealing and taking away gaps when you want to attack gaps. It was a heck of a game. I mean, it was a heck of a game. It was just, like we talked about, it comes down to one play. You've got to make one more play, and we just didn't make the play, and they did.

Q. Victoria was right on Arike for that last shot. What was your talk with them about the kind of defense you wanted to play coming out of that time-out?
VIC SCHAEFER: Well, we take away the first option. They wanted to go inside, and we told Blair, as soon as they hand it to her, bail out and go front to post. Zion was right behind it. I almost got a five count. Then they went and screened it, and we switched it. Usually our rule is -- it's not usually. It is the rule. When you switch, you switch to deny, and we just didn't get the denial.

Again, the kid made a heck of a shot. I mean, I thought we defended it well right up to the point where the ball went through the net. Other than keeping her from catching it, I don't know what else you could have done on it. I couldn't have even fouled her fast enough. We'd have fouled her on the shot. It was a catch and shoot. We couldn't even have fouled her on it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

VIC SCHAEFER: I just want you all to know how much I appreciate you being here, covering our great game, covering these ladies, covering our four universities. What you do means a lot to our game, and I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate it as a Coach that's been doing this a long time. I just want to say thank you.

Praise the Lord and Go Dogs. Happy Easter.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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