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March 7, 2019

Suzy Merchant

Indianapolis, Indiana

Michigan State - 68, Northwestern - 52

Q. You turned up your three-point shooting and held them to 41 percent (in the first meeting with Maryland). How are you feeling right now about your chances (in the quarterfinals)?
SUZY MERCHANT: Well, I mean, nothing in the past predicts your future, so we know obviously they probably didn't play their best game when they played us, and we were really -- I thought our kids did a great job. Everything was clicking on all cylinders. We're just going to have to continue to move forward. We've had some ups and downs. And Maryland is a heck of a team. They're defending Big Ten Champions that we have to play, so it's not going to be easy, and I'm sure they're looking forward to the battle tomorrow.

Q. You really took advantage of the bench today. How do you plan on using them going forward?
SUZY MERCHANT: Yeah, that's the thing that I think we tried to do as much as we could. I know there's kids on our team that we've played more, but I do think we can go nine, ten deep. And even at the end of last game -- just getting people off their feet for the last couple minutes in a game sometimes helps to move forward when we have to play in back-to-back games. I know some teams aren't that fortunate. They're five, six deep, and those kids log a lot of minutes. I have a couple of kids on my team with long minutes, but I still feel comfortable taking them out, even if it's just for one, two minutes and get them back in.

So the bench I think will help us as we continue forward and hopefully tomorrow. They gave us a lot of good energy today.

Q. The offense seemed to have some struggles at the start of the first and second halves -- well, I should say the first and third quarters. How are you going to be prepared to make a strong opening to, I guess, especially against a great team like Maryland?
SUZY MERCHANT: Well, some of that is -- I mean, sometimes it's a little bit of nerves. I really don't know. But I thought the third quarter was the one that bothered me the most coming out of the gates. They came and really scored the ball well, and we just kind of had some easy looks we didn't really finish on. So I called a time-out because we've had a few games that that's cost us. We only scored six points in a quarter after scoring 27 in one. So we just had to get some consistency and talk about it and say, we need people to step up. This is kind of where it's do or die time. This is where the lulls of this game, you can go for a minute or two, you can't go for a quarter like this. I thought when we came out of that timeout we really started moving the ball forward, and we got some stops. The beginning of the third we were scoring the ball so our (indiscernible) wasn't as effective. So that was another reason we weren't scoring as well.

Q. What did you say in that timeout in the third quarter?
SUZY MERCHANT: Just we've had quarters where we've only scored six points and it's killed us. We can't have that. Like now is the time. We have to put our foot down and get better and we need more leadership and people have to step up. You can't miss lay-ups and then give up a lay-up, miss wide-open shots that we leave. You're not going to get every shot you shoot, but it just seemed like we were a little tentative and everybody was waiting for somebody else to do it. And we wouldn't have survived that game if we had another six-point quarter, because that's what happened to us at their place. It happened three or four times throughout this year. And it's really bizarre because we're scoring 20, 24, 27, then we just have a quarter where we just kind of go away. That timeout was more about that, and I thought the kids came out and did a really good job. And it's hard to design exactly what you want because they're in the zone, right, so if it's a man, it's easy to come out and say, all right, Shay, you're taking this or Taryn, we're getting Taryn a shot or we're going inside or whatever. You can't do that against the zone necessarily. You can kind of see what you're looking for. But it does take a collective effort. So to be able to break that mold a little bit of us kind of having a lull in scoring against the zone I thought was a real positive step forward.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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