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March 9, 2019

Robin Pingeton

Hannah Schuchts

Sophie Cunningham

Nashville, Tennessee

Mississippi State-71, Missouri-56

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

ROBIN PINGETON: Obviously tough game for us. Give a lot of credit to Mississippi State and Vic Schaefer. He's done a great job. He's got a great team. We had our hands full tonight. We just didn't do a very good job controlling that paint. The first time we played them, I think we had more points than they did in the paint. We struggled with that tonight.

McCowan and Anriel, both such talented kids. Obviously not only offensively, defensively they rebounded the ball well. Any game you only get two offensive rebounds, you're making it challenging to yourself. Shot at a good percentage. Didn't get to the free-throw line like we would have. You're playing against a really good team, a team that's really hungry to win a championship. We knew it was going to be a battle.

I'm proud of our kids. I'm so excited for this young lady, just her accomplishment becoming the all-time leading scorer at the University of Missouri. She worked her tail off for every single point she's ever scored. It's been an honor and privilege to coach her. Excited we're not quite done yet.

I think Hannah had a great tournament, too. She really stepped up these last couple games. It was fun to see her take that jump as a player. Overall we just had a hard time offensively getting in any kind of flow. Had a hard time with Anriel and McCowan.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student-athletes.

Q. Hannah, obviously McCowan is a matchup problem for any team. What makes her so difficult to guard?
HANNAH SCHUCHTS: She's a really good player. I think she is a tough load to handle for any team. We tried our best. We fought. But she's a really good player. I think she's going to go on to do big things. All the credit to her really.

Q. Sophie, when you hit those threes, had 11 straight, did you think you were getting yourselves back into it and make a run?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Honestly the whole game, that was my mindset. I'm a competitor. Until that buzzer goes, I'm going to fight till the end.

Yeah, when you're feeling it, you think you're going to get really close. We did. We got it to five. We did a lot of things to ourselves, too. Too many turnovers on their press. We didn't rebound like we wanted to.

Yeah, it's tough. Tough matchup.

Q. Sophie, when you got the record and looked over at the bench, everybody celebrating, how did that feel?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Well, I was just actually celebrating the shot. My mind was not there. But I was feeling it for a little bit right there. Let's go. Trying to get my team into it. That wasn't really about the record. That kind of went out of my head a little bit.

Yeah, it's cool. It's not just me getting that record. My team has gotten me the ball, gotten me open. My coaches put me in great positions to get this record. I worked my tail off for it. It was never actually a goal of mine until I got close and people were telling me about it. That's definitely a team effort.

Q. Sophie, is it a little bit bittersweet maybe this SEC component of your career is done now?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: No, no, it's not. I wish I could play every single night, honestly. Coming into this game, we beat Mississippi State five out of the eight quarters. Honestly, it's not a fluke. We gave them our best shot. Our coaches know what they're doing. They're doing great game plans. We have to go out there and execute.

I wish I could play an SEC opponent every single night. We are the best league in the whole country.

Q. Sophie, you talked a lot about this team's resiliency, showing that again today. How are you feeling going into the NCAA tournament?
SOPHIE CUNNINGHAM: Yeah, right now I'm frustrated. I wish we could have done better. I still believe, I'm just a competitor. I still think we could have got that win. I'm a little frustrated.

I'm really happy where our team is at, too. I think we're going to go on a deep run. We got to shore up on some things. We're still learning. I think if we continue to have that growth mindset, we do that. It's one day at a time for this team.

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

Q. You remarked about the first game. It looked like Teaira and Anriel did a really good job of getting deep into the lane. Did you see that as a primary difference between this game and the first game?
ROBIN PINGETON: I felt like they attempted to do that in our first game, too. I think we held our ground a little bit better. But, yeah, we gave up a lot of really deep post catches. When you're 6'7", you get it right under the rim, that's awfully challenging to stop.

I didn't think we did a good enough job holding our ground. We talked about low man wins. Anriel is so versatile, hit those threes in the first half. You make a little adjustment. We weren't ever planning on giving her open threes. Once she hit a couple, tighten up. But she's also so good at getting to the rim. Again, just a great offensive rebounder.

That's a pretty tough tandem, for sure.

Q. Were y'all thinking this was going to be a game that Mississippi State was going to come out considering you had gotten that victory against them on the road?
ROBIN PINGETON: Come out what?

Q. With particular vigor.
ROBIN PINGETON: I think you're playing in the SEC tournament. You're playing to go to the championship game. I don't think it matters who won, who lost. You're just competing, trying to survive and advance.

I don't think any of us like to lose in this league. Players, coaches. I think we all look at it as we've all got 15 rivalries. It's going to be a battle every night. I don't know if there was added incentive or not.

Our focus was we wanted to compete to the best of our ability to put ourselves in a position to be in that championship game. Been a while since the University of Missouri has been there. We felt good about the way we were playing. We did feel like they'd come out and really try to kind of create some pressure, wreak some havoc in that full court. We didn't do as good of a job with that this time around. We played rushed basketball instead of playing at the pace we need to play at to give ourselves a chance to be successful.

Q. A lot of production from several other players in the first game. Today Sophie had 33 and no one else had more than six. What was Mississippi State doing different, if anything, from game one?
ROBIN PINGETON: I thought it was a really physical game. I thought they really guarded hard on the perimeter. We had some looks that we didn't knock down, although we shot a pretty good percentage as a team. Sophie was a pretty big part of that. We just had a hard time getting around people.

They were switching screens, getting through screens, just a tremendous defensive effort from Mississippi State. I think you got to give them a lot of credit. They guarded the ball hard, didn't give you a lot of opportunities to create off the bounce.

I think that's where Akira Levy makes a big difference for us. She has the ability to create a little bit more off the bounce and get to that paint that might open up something for someone else. She's an awfully good passer. I thought that was really apparent tonight, how much we missed her against teams that can pressure as well as Mississippi State does.

Q. Your team is right on that four- or five-seed bubble. What has this team showed to get an opportunity to host?
ROBIN PINGETON: I think we've shown great resiliency. We've had some really big wins. I don't know, four, five, top-20 wins this season. That's great. I think we've also had some tough losses that we had to learn from, go back to the drawing board.

When you look overall at the body of the work, I'll be honest with you, I haven't studied where everybody else is at, who else is on the bubble of hosting, what that looks like, I think that's really hard to do when you're in the middle of SEC play.

I'm really proud of our kids. I think finish as a five seed in the SEC, satisfied? Absolutely not. But it's a tough league. We competed. We beat some really good teams this year. Certainly had our fair share of tough losses that we had to own. It's a pretty special group, very resilient. It's been fun to see the growth from the start of the season to where we're at now.

Q. Jazzmun Holmes gets a lot of attention for her defense. Her ability to run the team, get the team into the sets that coach wants. How would you describe that? Is that underrated?
ROBIN PINGETON: I would definitely agree with you. Things like that don't necessarily show up in a box score. But she's such a great athlete. She plays with great pace. She has a great demeanor. Things like that you don't get credit for.

I think she's had an outstanding season for them. She knows her role. She's very good at it. She can create, too. She can be a lot more aggressive offensively if she wanted to be. But I think she's such an unselfish kid, she knows what Coach Schaefer wants, does a tremendous job for that program.

Q. You had a nightmare problem with Sophie over the last four years for other teams. What kind problem is Anriel? What has she added to that dynamic?
ROBIN PINGETON: Incredible athlete. I mean, incredible. Great lateral speed. She's one of the best leapers in this league. She has a nose for the ball. She's tough, gritty. She plays every possession hard.

Yeah, I don't know if it was developed or spent time on or maybe it was always there, but it wasn't her role at Texas A&M. Just her versatility, being able to score from the outside, as well as create off the bounce. She's just a great all-around player, no doubt about it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, coach.


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