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March 7, 2019

Robin Pingeton

Sophie Cunningham

Nashville, Tennessee

Missouri-87, Florida-56

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Missouri. Coach, if you could make an opening statement.

ROBIN PINGETON: Just really happy for our players. It's never often that you get to play your entire team. It feels really good as a coach to get everybody out there obviously for several reasons.

One, everybody works so hard throughout the course of season. To be able to find minutes for them, valuable minutes for them, was big. Also to be able to rest some kids.

Cam has done an incredible job at Florida. I think he's a really, really good coach. He's got some talent on that team. They've just battled all year long. They gave us everything we could handle in that first half.

I don't know if fatigue played a factor in that second half or not, but he's going to build an incredible program at Florida. He's a very, very good coach.

Happy for our players. I thought it was a really good team win. Different kids stepped up. I thought we did a great job sharing the ball. That first half, we had some defensive possessions. We missed some box outs. We had some tough turnovers. I think that usually goes along with that first game of tournament play. You kind of got to fight yourself through it. I thought they did that, came out, obviously had a really good second half.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Sophie Cunningham.

Q. It was a pretty back and forth game first half. Ended the half on a 10-2 run. What allowed you to get that run?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: I'm going to repeat what coach said: We had to get our legs under us. I think us getting a game under our belt is awesome, honestly. I think when you kind of have that experience, you take it from being a freshman, we've been here. You kind of know what to expect.

This year I think we've handled it great so far. That first half we had to get our legs under us. People were knocking down shots. I was looking at the shot chart here, everyone scored. That's awesome. I can't remember the last time that's happened. Really happy for our team.

Q. How big was Amber's performance?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: It's huge. I don't expect anything less. I think Amber can do that any game she wants. But for her to come out there, especially in the first half, when it was going back and forth, it was huge for us just to stay in it.

Down the stretch, everyone from top to bottom gave it their best shot and it kind of worked out.

Q. You mentioned everybody contributing. How fun was it to see that at the end of the game?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: It's awesome. Those kids who don't get in as much as some of us, I mean, they work just as hard every day in practice. They're the ones who push us every single day to get better. For them to get their shot on this kind of stage, I love it, absolutely love it.

Especially when everyone gets a bucket, I think it's great.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Sophie. We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. You missed your first five threes, then kind of picked up in the second quarter. What led to finally the threes?
ROBIN PINGETON: Florida has some really talented athletes. Their quickness. We had to settle in. We weren't sure if they'd play us more man or zone, try to junk it up with Sophie. I think it was a matter of getting comfortable out there.

I felt like some of those shots early, some of our turnovers early, we were just playing too quick, sped up a little bit. We just really kept talking about it in our timeouts of playing off two feet, just slowing down with everything.

I thought once we settled in, obviously did a much better job of that.

Q. Was there any mention at all about this being an opportunity to avenge that loss to Florida earlier in the year?
ROBIN PINGETON: I think our girls are well aware of that. That wasn't the overriding message going into this game. That was a tough loss for us. We didn't leave Florida feeling very good. We felt like we let one slip away. We had the lead. You go back and watch film, we had missed so many layups in that game. It was a tough one.

Yes, I mean, absolutely there was conversation about it. But that wasn't our driving force. I think for us, just wanted to really focus on controlling what we can control, making sure we were assignment correct on the defensive end, and really doing a good job of taking care of the ball.

We just wanted to be the best version of ourselves that we could be. Whatever happened from there happened from there. I thought our kids did a really nice job of that.

Yes, there was conversation about it, but I don't think that was the overwhelming motivation going into this game. It was survive and advance. Tournament play. We know all these games are going to be tough. Florida was first up for us. It was more about advancing than anything.

Q. What did you think of Hannah's play?
ROBIN PINGETON: What did she end up with from the three? That means in the last two games, I think she was four for four in her last game, if I remember correctly, so shooting the ball pretty well.

To me, I think frustrating for Hannah throughout the course of the season because she hasn't been able to do that consistently. That's what we see out of her in practice. We talk a lot about her being more assertive offensively, coming up wanting the shot versus I'm open and I'll take the shot. There's a big difference in that mindset.

But the last couple games she's really shot it well for us. I think that opens up so much more for us. Certainly both her and Cierra bring so much value to our team, two different types of ways. I think it's a completely different look when Hannah is out on the court versus CP, and both have great value.

Q. You haven't started looking at Kentucky yet, but a quick thought on them?
ROBIN PINGETON: I'll just say this: Matthew Mitchell is a great coach. He has a great team. You got the freshman of the year, you have Maci Morris, Murray, who just was a nightmare for us. We've got a lot of respect for that program, what Matthew has been able to do.

I'm really anxious to get back to the hotel and dive into film, come up with a game plan. Like any game of the tournament, it's going to be tough. I feel really good about where our team is at right now. I think we've been playing really well as of late. We're looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow.

Q. I know Haley has struggled at times this year. She had 10 today, looking more like herself. What did you see out of her today?
ROBIN PINGETON: I'm happy to see it. That's a kid I've watched a lot last year when she was on the scout team. At times this year it's just the consistency piece is the part that we struggled with this year from some of those kids coming off the bench.

Again, that's a kid that went 3-3 from the three-point line against Alabama, then comes back out tonight and has a big game. Having that kind of depth and that production off the bench I think is so important.

She looked good. She looked good off the ball. She looked good with the ball in her hands. The last five minutes she was at point. She plays with great pace. This is the Haley that we were so excited about having in our program. I think she has a very high basketball IQ, fundamentally sound, talented young lady. So the consistency is the key with her.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.


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