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March 8, 2019

Cori Close

Japreece Dean

Kennedy Burke

Las Vegas, Nevada

UCLA - 73, ASU - 69

COACH CLOSE: 20 points in 20 minutes, 7-for-8 shooting. Besides those two free throws at the end, that was a pretty darn efficient game from that perspective. So she's got to stay out of foul trouble with us. That last over the back with the third call, she's got to realize what point in the game is it and she needs to not take that chance because she's too big of a piece for us offensively. So that's a huge piece for us. So just credit to her. She does what Michaela does. She's efficient, she's selfless, she plays her tail off, and we really rely on her for that.

Q. KB and Japreece, things got away a little bit there in the third quarter. Can you take me through the troubles you saw on defense?
KENNEDY BURKE: I think the most important thing was we weren't communicating on defense, which is why they had those easy lay-ups and they were able to get those threes off. I think during that segment we just came back together. Japreece was a huge part in that.

JAPREECE DEAN: Yeah, I would agree, a lack of focus and a lack of urgency, knowing who they were going to go to. I think we picked it up after that. Knowing people, challenging people, and just communicating in huddles.

Q. Japreece, we found out that you're coming back for another year next season. That video made all of us smile yesterday. What sort of impact did that have on the incredible performance that you brought today?
JAPREECE DEAN: You know, I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about it and so much was on my mind, and I just tried to get it off. Because I don't play with a bunch on my mind. But I don't think it had much of an impact. I just knew I was going to be on an attack mode, whether that was defensively or offensively or creating for others, and that's what I did.

Q. For both of you guys, Coach said start of fourth quarter she had some choice words about stepping up again. I think you two combined for the first eight points so you had a cushion again. Did you think we've got to get going again to get this back to where it was in the first 30 minutes?
JAPREECE DEAN: Oh, yeah. There was a part, I don't know when it was, but KB had missed the lay-up, and it was over the top. I looked at her like are you going to buck up or what? And we started arguing.

KENNEDY BURKE: We were going back and forth.

JAPREECE DEAN: It was like let's go, let's go. And we were arguing, and she came out and responded. I like how she responded to the challenge, and she did great.

KENNEDY BURKE: It shows how much impact she has on all of us. It shows on the court that she's a great leader so.

COACH CLOSE: I thought Lajahna Drummer was the other part of that. It's not going to show up on the stat sheet, but everybody, of the three seniors, people talk about what they've meant to the program and what their impact has been, and everybody talked about her competitive backbone; that we rely on her to get passion plays and to get rebounds and to be our sort of rock.

We went back to that and said listen to what everyone said about you last night. Right now we need you. And I thought she responded as well. And she's just a confidence person for us. She's an anchor for our team. The next couple of possessions, she denied touches to Ibis when they were deliberately trying to get her the ball. That's not going to show up on a stat sheet, but we know that was a huge piece.

Q. Coach, you mentioned that you got into some of the players' faces during timeouts and stuff. In the fourth quarter I noticed you walked straight to Japreece. What kind word of words did you exchange in those encounters?
COACH CLOSE: I looked her in the eye and I said: We have Japreece Dean, and they don't. You have to lead us right now, right now. And she looked me in the eye, and she knew. She has that kind of command of our team, and she was playing really well. I needed her to really focus that we start and end with her, and she's got to keep it rolling.

Q. On that note, there is obviously quite a connection between you two. What's it mean to you, Japreece, to have another year? And same question for you.
JAPREECE DEAN: It means a lot. I want to thank everyone who put the time in to make that happen. Our staff, Coach, I'm really blessed for that. It's great to be with these girls. She brings in amazing people to our program, and it's great to be with a great staff.

COACH CLOSE: I think one of the things when we found out the other day, we actually had a film session that day. I just said, you know, what is it that you're supposed to learn in this next year? Why was this granted? You've got to figure that out.

But for me, to watch her grow so much over the last two and a half years and to see how much from the inside out, in her leadership, her character, in the way that she can connect with all different kinds of people, to be a great influence on them, I just was thinking to myself, man, I'm going to get to watch her grow another level, in both leadership as well as in her game.

One of the things for me, I was a point guard, and I wasn't nearly as talented as she is, but one thing that's so fun is she loves the game. There's not a day that she doesn't want to talk about an NBA game that happened, a WNBA game, a college game. To be a head coach who is a point guard and have her point guard love the game as much as you do, wow, what a blessing.

So I'm really, really fortunate and couldn't be prouder of how much she's grown and all the people echoing what she said and really fought for her. It was the right thing, and we knew it was right. But a lot of people had to sacrifice a lot of time and energy and relentlessness to put her in that position.

Q. Happy International Women's Day to each of you. I wondered if you wanted to take a moment to shout out a woman that's inspired you?
KENNEDY BURKE: I would like to shout out my sister, Kody Burke. She's been a huge inspiration for me. I love her and I miss her.

JAPREECE DEAN: Shout out to my mom. Great lady, great heart, just has so much grace for people, and I admire her so much.

COACH CLOSE: I'm going to shout out Ceal Barry. Honestly, I remember just thinking to myself I was a restricted earnings coach at UCLA, and she was the head coach at Colorado. I wrote her a letter and said this is my dream job. If I could ever just have time with you. I didn't get time to work with her, but she spent time with me in the summers and we talked about life and basketball. You're a trailblazer in our game. She was Jenny Huth's college coach, and to watch her influence as she came into our program, all the trickle-down of that, and thinking about without people like you, Ceal Barry, we don't have a press conference like this, or exposure your to our game. You've impacted me, but you've impacted countless others. So it's a great opportunity to say thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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