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March 11, 2019

Bill Fennelly

Alexa Middleton

Bridget Carleton

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Baylor 67, Iowa State 49

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Iowa State Cyclones head coach, Bill Fennelly, and his two student-athletes, Bridget Carleton and Alexa Middleton. Coach, your thoughts?

BILL FENNELLY: First of all, I want to congratulate Baylor. That's just a really, really, really, really good team. I wouldn't be surprised if about a month from now they're holding up another trophy. Congrats to them. I want to on behalf of our team and our university I want to thank the Big 12 for running an amazing event. I want to thank the people of Oklahoma City, the people here at Chesapeake Arena. Our kids have been smiling since they landed and I'm going to get them to smile again before they leave. They provided our kids with a lot of memories and I hope that the people here enjoyed having Iowa State here.

Lastly, for our team, I thought our kids played as hard as they could play. I couldn't be more proud. It's kinda the same cycle when we play Baylor. It's been these two and they didn't get a whole lot of help. For us to be down 4 going into the fourth quarter, we gave ours a chance, but Baylor's defense was great and we just couldn't get some offense from some other people. The best part for me is this team is tremendous to be around and the best part is we get to play again, and I get to keep coaching them for a little bit longer. I'm not looking forward to the end, but we're going to celebrate what we're doing right now. These two have a little time left, and we're going to make sure they enjoy it.

Q. For each of the players, I know it's disappointing, but for three quarters you were neck and neck with the best team in the country. Can you reflect on what that means for this program especially considering where it's been the last couple of years?
BRIDGET CARLETON: For sure. It was exciting to be in that game, going into the fourth quarter. Obviously Baylor is a great team and they're hard to compete with. Our bigs were battling. Maddy was battling a long time against 6-4, 6-7 and it gets rough down there and they're a really good team, and to be down only 4 in the fourth quarter our spirits were high. We were ready to go. Obviously they made a run. Their defense was really good tonight. It's good for us going into the NCAA tournament and it's good preparation for that because we're going to see some really good teams.

Q. What did happen there in the fourth quarter? You hung with them for most of the night and then kind of the last six, seven minutes is when things kinda changed direction.
ALEXA MIDDLETON: You look at the box score we only had five points in the fourth quarter. They had 19. That was a lot of it. Like Coach said, their defense was really good in the fourth quarter. We weren't able to execute like we wanted to and right there with them in the third quarter, we survived the surgery they usually have in the third quarter, just couldn't get it done in the fourth.

Q. Coach Fennelly was talking about how excited he is for what's still in store, I guess. Given what you were able to do tonight and just all season, what's your guys' excitement level as you get ready for the NCAA tournament now?
BRIDGET CARLETON: We're really excited. Obviously some rest is going to be necessary in the next week. But we're excited for Selection Monday and we're hoping we get to host, hoping we get to win some tournaments and win some games in the tournament. You know, playing college basketball you want to get to the NCAA tournament. That's what it's all about. That's where the best memories are made, so we're looking forward to that. I can't wait.

Q. You guys both played a lot today, yesterday. Alexa, your most minutes of the season. What was it like in the second half? Were you all pretty fatigued? How did you feel today?
ALEXA MIDDLETON: Yeah, it was a lot of minutes. Like you said, the most I've played all year. The third game in a row, three days in a row is tough. Coach Steyer talked to me before the game yesterday about they're tired, too, and you've got to think I'm going to attack that on them and I'm telling myself I'm not tired. I think we were mostly able to do that, but fatigue is in the back of your mind. You're tired, your legs are dead, you've got to get more lift on your shot, but overall I think we did a pretty good job of pushing through that and doing some great things on the court.

THE MODERATOR: Ladies, congratulations. Best of luck. Questions for Coach?

Q. Bill, with about a minute left you took Alexa and Bridget out and you talked to them. What words did you have for them?
BILL FENNELLY: I just told them I wouldn't be more proud of the effort that they gave. When you're on the court and playing at the highest level against the best team in the country to play that well and I took 'em out because obviously they were tired. Bridget dinged her ankle a little, but I wanted our fans to acknowledge them.

I wanted the Baylor fans to acknowledge them. And I just told them that they're not done playing. I told them to wipe the tears out of their eyes, get their head up and cheer for their teammates, but mainly how proud of them I am and that they still get to play and that's the biggest thing for them. They're pretty down, which is probably in a weird way a good thing. But they'll be okay. They'll be okay.

Q. Bill, you know you're not going to go against anybody tougher than that in the NCAA?
BILL FENNELLY: I hope not. The only team tougher is our football team, probably.

Q. I know it's disappointing, but having played a team this good three times how does that prepare you for March?
BILL FENNELLY: You must have been in the locker room because the last thing I said was there isn't a team in the country that got better preparation for the NCAA tournament than us. This is the best practice, obviously we're disappointed we lost the game, but I can't imagine anyone being that physical at both ends of the floor that we're going to see. Maybe there is, but I don't know who it is.

That hopefully is the message that our kids will take out of here is we played really well for two games and three quarters. Hopefully that's something that we can build on moving forward.

Q. Bill, that was a recipe, the first three quarters that has knocked them out of postseasons before. What changed? What makes them different that they can handle that now?
BILL FENNELLY: Well, I think the biggest thing is that they continue to just do what they do. They're not going to take a bad shot. They don't lose their poise on offense. You don't see many teams go 0-3 from the 3-point line in modern day basketball. And obviously their defense is really good. When Kristin Scott got in foul trouble I knew we were in trouble. We had no spacing. We can't create space against their big guys. They do such a good job of that. If they're guarding you really well and you can't get to the free throw line they're hard to score on. We had a hard time certainly in the fourth quarter.

Q. In three words, how would you describe tonight's game?
BILL FENNELLY: Physical, emotional, fun!

Q. Just your thoughts on how Alexa Middleton played tonight. Looked like she took the fight to 'em and was aggressive and kept you guys in it?
BILL FENNELLY: Alexa played really well. She had a great tournament, had a great game last night, had a great game tonight. We played her two many minutes, but I kept telling her, we're not taking you out. You got us here, you gotta finish it. With her and Bridget, they play really well off each other. Like I said earlier, for the third time against them, you're not going to beat Baylor. I thought our defense was fine. I thought we completed defensively, did the right things, transition baskets and inability to score in space when Kristen got in foul trouble put us in a position we could not overcome.

Q. Bill, can you put in perspective how Cox's overall game has grown? Seems to me she is able to hurt teams in a lot of ways on both ends of the court.
BILL FENNELLY: I think she is a great player and her numbers are always -- she scores, she rebounds, she blocks shots, she defenses multiple positions, she passes the ball. I mean, obviously she's going to be their preseason Player of the Year in our league next year. Her ability to do other things at that size and length just adds so much to their team that I don't know other team in the country that has that. I'm sure there is, not that I've seen.

Kalani Brown is a great player, but part of the reason Kalani Brown is a great player is because she is playing with Lauren Cox. I think what she does and how she does it really impacts their team and it's a credit to the way they play and the way they've coached her.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, congratulations on a great season.

BILL FENNELLY: Thank you, everyone. Appreciate your time.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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