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March 6, 2019

Jonathan Tsipis

Marsha Howard

Imani Lewis

Indianapolis, Indiana

Wisconsin - 65, Penn State - 57

Q. First off, when Imani picked up that third foul early in the third, you sat her for the rest of it. You guys maintained the lead mostly and then they started going on that 9-0 run towards the end. What happened in that three or four-minute span?
JONATHAN TSIPIS: Yeah, I thought I got a better -- we were still trying to mix defenses up, and I thought they caught us a little bit in the zone. My thoughts were 'could I stretch it and get her to the 4th? Could I sneak her in and put her in the zone and everything?' And when they went a little bit small, too, I thought that hurt us because I didn't feel like that would play for us to be able to play man-to-man. And again, when they made that run, that was the one time, too. I felt like they got a couple good pushes in transition. And again, they're so explosive -- (Teniya) Page had 36 here last year in this first-round game. All of a sudden they start stringing those together. And again, we just kind of made that choice to try to keep her for the whole fourth, and if she did get one, then at least we would get (Abby) Laszewski rested a little bit, or if we needed to, we could have played (Kelly) Karlis with four guards. Again, during that run, the one thing I didn't think we gave up is we didn't -- we weren't giving up offensive rebounds. All of a sudden, that's why I liked keeping both in the game.

Q. Every game that you've now coached in this tournament has been a single-digit game. I guess it's a good thing obviously on days like today when you win, but what makes your team so tough in a tournament-style setting because that's a trend now?
JONATHAN TSIPIS: Yeah, I mean, last year we dug a big hole, came all the way back, and Cayla McMorris drives and the ball goes in and the whistle goes off in a three-point game, and if it's a block, she has a chance to tie it and they call a charge. You've got to credit the kids. It's resiliency. You hope -- we try to, again, when you're in March, you have some wrinkles in, but again, I think we talk about this experience all the time with them of leading up into it.

We play a tournament at Thanksgiving, whether it's tropical or it was in Nashville this year to simulate that, play three days and three nights. So the kids, again, when they come in here, you don't want them thinking this is something they haven't done before, and it's -- to steal and borrow from different people, that's what we've done. And again, I just think -- I know our staff did a great job preparing. Second year in a row we get somebody for the third time. Again, I think making sure they believed -- I felt like the first two games against Penn State we had opportunities to win the game, we just didn't finish it out. And again, I think they saw that on film.

I think the win today started about halfway through the third quarter of the Michigan game because we're down 26, there's three and-a-half minutes left, and it's easy to just pack it up, get on the bus and go to the Big Ten Tournament, and our kids fought.

Q. Your first-ever conference tournament game, and from the get-go, first two possessions, you score and kind of set the tone and you really were humming offensively. Second quarter, you didn't score as much, but defensively you were making it happen. For you as such a young player in your first ever Big Ten Conference Tournament, how were you able to make such an impact?
IMANI LEWIS: Before the game, my dad talked to me. He said just play hard. Just give everything you have, and he was like, you never know what could happen throughout the game, but no matter what happens always keep your head held high and never give up. And even for me, like the seniors said, we don't want this to be our last game, and I said, I got you, it won't be your last game. So it's just keeping my head always focused in the game and always just listening and being mindful of what's going on.

Q. When you were out with foul trouble in the third quarter, at the end of the third, beginning of the fourth, they went on a 9-0 run and cut it really close and then you get inserted back into the lineup. What were the conversations with your team as they were making that run and getting close? Did you tighten up at all or did you still feel confident?
IMANI LEWIS: We felt confident, and I told them, I said, you guys, you just got to go out there and be yourselves. I said, there's no need for you to be worried, nervous or nothing. It's just basketball. We're all basketball players, we're all the same. Don't worry, just do what you do, but no matter what, just play hard and be physical.

Q. Imani was talking about how she was going to make sure that this was not the seniors' final game. Did you kind of feel the same way coming into this game, like this is not going to be my last game?
MARSHA HOWARD: I sent out a group text to everyone just letting them know like this could potentially be it for me and Kelly, but we weren't going down without a fight, and just for everyone to play confident, play together through all ups and downs, just keep battling. And then the response I got back from my teammates was just, let's go, like we're not going to let y'all go out like this, like we're going to continue to fight, and whatever the outcome is, we're going to do it together.

Q. You really came on in that second half, scoring and rebounding especially. What was kind of your goal there, especially as Penn State was getting close for a while?
MARSHA HOWARD: Offensively it was a slow start, but I continued to crash the boards the entire game, getting us extra possessions or limiting them to one shot a possession. With them just having so many shooters around the perimeter and big bodies inside, just trying to get us as many possessions as possible, and then when the opportunity presented itself for me to get a bucket, that's when things started to roll in.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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