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March 10, 2019

Carolyn Kieger

Danielle King

Natisha Hiedeman

Chicago, Illinois

Marquette - 88, St. Johns - 57

CAROLYN KIEGER: I'm just extremely proud of our team tonight. I thought -- or today. I thought they were extremely mature. This is the most we've been locked in defensively. I thought they followed the game plan pretty much to a tee, and it really showed up on the defensive end, which got our offense rolling.

The main thing we've been talking about all week is having energy and being tough, and after our response to them when we lost up at their place, I think we couldn't have asked for a better response from this entire team, but it didn't just start today. We had an amazing week of practice and they've been really bought in since the Providence game, and I can't say enough about their maturity, and that starts with our senior guards right now, and just extremely proud of them, and one game down.

Q. How does it feel to be moving on to the semifinal game today?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: It just feels great. You know, we want to go as far as we can, and we know that this is going to prepare us for the upcoming games.

DANIELLE KING: Yeah, we've just been working all week for this, and we're hungry to get to the championship game, so we're taking it 200 feet at a time is our culture, and one game at a time.

Q. How much of a redemption is this? Last time you guys were here it wasn't quite so pretty.
DANIELLE KING: It just feels like every loss, we take it as a lesson, and we let it fuel us for the next game and the next season. We know we came up short last season, and we're just staying hungry this time.

NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Yeah, we came into this tournament with a chip on our shoulder, especially after what happened last year, and we know that you've got to show up every game, and any team can win, and we know if we bring our energy and intensity that we're going to be playing at our best.

Q. Was there also a bit of a chip on the shoulder after losing to St. John's?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Yeah, we don't like losing (laughter). And after that game, like we just looked at all our mistakes, and we learned from it. So you could tell that we learned from it, and it paid off.

DANIELLE KING: Yeah, I agree with T. We don't like losing. We don't take it nicely. And we just fixed our mistakes and bought into the game plan.

Q. Natisha, you pulled up that D three in the second half. Was that just all-time confidence there taking that shot?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: Yeah, I just felt like I was open so I shot it, and I think it was the dagger.

Q. Danielle, how did you feel in today's game after coming off an injury?
DANIELLE KING: I felt great. I'm back to 100 percent, so nothing slowing me down. Full speed.

Q. Natisha, you really had it going. Did you kind of just feel like the shot was -- did you kind of see something on defense? What led to that?
NATISHA HIEDEMAN: We just prepared for that all practice being face guarded. A lot of players on the team being denied, and Coach had a great game plan going into it, and she fed us a lot of confidence, and we used it as fuel.

Q. How were you guys able to stop St. John's offensively today?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, I think it all had to do with our close-outs, and our game against them at their place, I thought we weren't paying attention to personnel. We were running out penetrators, we weren't high and tight on the shooters, and we talked about that a lot this week. We had locked in mentality last night from the moment we found out who we were playing, and I think our girls were just such at a different level of focus. And I'm just really proud of that because the last four games it hasn't really been like that. So you can tell they've learned lessons. You can tell all the film sessions are paying off.

Q. How has playing with that underdog mentality helped you get to where you are so far in the season?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, I think for us we play better when we have a chip on our shoulder as they say, or when we play like we have something to prove, and that's been their MO for their whole entire career here. No matter what our ranking is, no matter where we've come as a program, we still have to play like that. And we still have to come out every night with a no doubt, a no mercy mentality, and I think they're really catching on to that. We talk about it every single day about how we're going in and we're going to play every possession as hard as we possibly can and the score is always 0-0.

Q. What did you think has led to Natisha's confidence?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Well, I think she's always been a really confident shooter. I think where she's really elevated her game this year is she's taking smarter shots. She's taking better shots. She's penetrating a little bit more, which is opening up her three-pointer a little bit more because they have to pay attention to her penetration as well as the three ball. So for her, I just think she's really confident right now, but it also stems from her teammates. When Allazia is playing the way she did the second half, when Dani is penetrating and Amani had just let the pressure get off her a little bit so she can play free and she can have that green light that we've given her.

Q. What about her rebounding, too, she had a double-double before even the first half was done?
CAROLYN KIEGER: Yeah, I've been saying it all year, when Natisha is locked in I think she's an All-American candidate. She's playing at a really elite level. I think her biggest thing is consistency, and once she figures out that it's all based on energy, she's really hard to stop. Obviously I'm biased because she's on our team and she's our player, but I think she's really one of the best guards out there.

Q. You had 48 points in the paint. Can you talk about that mentality when you were down low?
CAROLYN KIEGER: So we missed 33 lay-ups combined in our first two St. John's games, and we talked about that a lot, about being tough and making sure we're finishing. And we only had six 3s combined in the two games, so we came in offensively wanting to pack it inside and make sure we were getting points in the paint and finishing strong, where we also needed to stress the court and hit 3s, which we ended up hitting eight tonight. So I think even offensively I think we really followed the game plan. It's been something we've been talking about for five straight days right now.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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