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March 9, 2019

Wes Moore

Elissa Cunane

Kai Crutchfield

Greensboro, North Carolina

Louisville - 78, NC State - 68

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by NC State head coach Wes Moore and student-athletes Kai Crutchfield and Elissa Cunane.

COACH MOORE: I told the players, first of all, how proud I am of them, how they battled. But I'll take the blame for this loss.

We had three kids pick up two fouls halfway through the second quarter. And I got them out. And we went from 10 up to 10 down in five minutes or so. So, I should have probably gambled a little bit there and tried to let them play.

So, again, like I said, I couldn't be prouder. They fought all day long. They fought all year. They've been amazing, and the good news is we still have some more basketball ahead of us.

Q. Coach, Louisville ended the second quarter on a 22-2 run, and you came out, outscored them, rallied back to tie before the layup to end the third for the Cardinals. What do you tell your team at halftime and how would you assess how they performed in the third?
COACH MOORE: I told them they did a great job to start the game. They built a 10-point lead. We're down by 10 at halftime. All we have to do is do what we did to start the game -- flip it back, get the 10 points back. They did that. Unfortunately, they probably ran out of gas fighting so hard to get back to that point.

So, like I said, they did a great job, and I probably should have gambled and played some people with two fouls. Again, give Louisville a lot of credit. They took advantage of it.

Q. Wes, do you think your team just used up a lot of energy to get back into the game and?

Q. Noticed barely 20 minutes off your bench tonight. Was that a factor?
COACH MOORE: I think so. We can manage -- we can rotate and manage with one starter out or whatever, but when we have three out it's tough. We just don't have the depth to handle that.

So, like I said, should have probably taken a chance, let them maybe even get a third foul if need be and make sure that we kept the lead.

Q. Coach, last time when you guys went up to Louisville it was obviously the first quarter that killed you. And today you come out strong in that first quarter. How much of an emphasis was there on that starting well?
COACH MOORE: We felt it was important we got off to a good start and more than anything maybe flip it. It may have been important that we did and let them get off to a great start and get that confidence going again.

But, again, except for that second quarter, where we gave up 27 points, pretty unbelievable to hold them under 20 each of those quarters, and, like I said, have an opportunity down the stretch to win that game.

Q. Wes, looking at Kiara's numbers -- nine shots, two rebounds. I know she was expending a lot of energy guarding Durr, but what is her health situation?
COACH MOORE: I'm not going to talk about that. But she's not feeling well. It's not a -- it's not an injury, she's just not well. I thought she battled -- you look at what she and DD Rogers have done as fourth-year players is pretty impressive. But Ki will be fine, but unfortunately she wasn't at her best as far as physically feeling the last couple of days.

Q. Coming into this season you ladies weren't getting that much playing time. Always expected to. And as the season ends you're leading the teams. What have you learned about yourselves moving forward? And like moving into next season and the postseason, what can you improve on?
KAI CRUTCHFIELD: So just coming into the season always had the mindset of just following, being able to listen to what our leaders like Ais, Ki, the guards and even the coaches have to say for me to grow on that.

And it's a blessing, of course, just to be able to step into the role. Unfortunately, the reason why I'm in the role I am in now is because of injuries. But in the postseason and just going along with next year, I just want to keep growing as a player defensively, offensively working on mid-range, attacking the basket, whatever I need to do in order to fulfill my position in NC State's program, that's what I want to do.

ELISSA CUNANE: Same as Kai, it stinks that the injuries provided us with this opportunity, but I'm going to take this opportunity and do what we can and just keep on learning and improve my game.

Q. Elissa, for you, going into this tournament, obviously, you've been a starter for several games at this point. But how much confidence did you gain from just these two games in the postseason play having the performances you did?
ELISSA CUNANE: I think my confidence has definitely increased just over the course of the season so far and my teammates have really helped me out with that. And so going into postseason, with [inaudible] with the opportunities we'll have.

Q. Coach, you talked about maybe sort of gambling more maybe with players with two fouls. One was Kiara, and she sat the rest of the quarter after she got her second. So what made you not put her back in?
COACH MOORE: Well, I mean, you're concerned about her picking up three fouls if she -- that's normally what I do is, if you pick up two, then we're going to try to live to play another day. But, again, today, against a really good team like Louisville, probably should have maybe considered gambling a little bit there.

But if you've got three at halftime, you pick up a quick one in the second half, you're shut down for a long, long time. So especially with the lead -- but we did let it get away. And, like I said, second-guessed myself on that one.

Q. Kai, new career high for you today. Was that part of the game plan, was to allow you to take more shots, or was that based on what happened at Louisville and the way they were guarding you today?
KAI CRUTCHFIELD: I think I just went with the flow of the game. It wasn't just, okay, I'm going to do this because of that. It was the open shots, I take the open shots. And, of course, sometimes we all second-guess ourselves, but I felt more confident, like he said, just the confidence that my teammates have put in me, that the coaches have put in me, to get the career high.

Q. Elissa, you came back playing the Greensboro Coliseum. What are your overall thoughts on the tournament since you're from Northern Guilford?
ELISSA CUNANE: I'm excited how we played, and proud of my team, how we battled yesterday and today. And it was a very good experience. And I'm looking forward to next year.

Q. Elissa, when the ball got stuck in the rim the second quarter, you looked like you said something to Kylee Shook when she knocked it loose that caused her to laugh. What did you say?
ELISSA CUNANE: I said, "Your arms are longer, that's why you got it."

Q. Wes, for you, I Jeff Walz before this about the play of Elissa and Kai, and he said to him Elissa has a chance to become an All-American by the end of her career here at NC State. Obviously it's early in her career, but how successful do you think both the two players sitting next to you can be moving forward?
COACH MOORE: I think both have grown a lot this year probably gained a lot of confidence, and I think that always helps with Elissa being 6'5" and being very skilled. I think she also didn't really have the advantage of working in the summer last year because she was coming off of foot surgery. So I think in the weight room is going to really help her.

And with Kai, I think this is big for her to shoot the ball as well as she did today and give her some confidence and hopefully moving forward in these next few weeks, she can feel comfortable out there offensively.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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