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March 22, 2019

Charli Turner Thorne

Courtney Ekmark

Kianna Ibis

Charnea Johnson-Chapman

Coral Gables, Florida

Arizona State 60, UCF 45

COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yes, I just want to really comment on Katie's team, UCF. They are a tough team. We play in the best conference in the country in our humble opinion, the Pac-12, and we play aggressive, physical teams and they were a very tough team. She's done amazing job. I'm proud of our team taking care of business today.

Appreciate THE University of Miami, everything has been fantastic in terms of hosting and the selection committee.

Obviously excited to keep playing and you know, usually the way this goes, teams that have deep runs, just keep playing better, keep playing better, and that's our plan.

CAMRON GHORBI: Thank you. We'll go into questions for the student athletes. If you could please direct your question to a specific student athlete; and if the question is for one-or-multiple, I will have one of them start first.

Q. For Courtney. Courtney, how crucial was it getting those two quick three-pointers to start the third quarter?
COURTNEY EKMARK: Getting ready to start the second half, Charli told me to light it up right before I started so I said, okay. I think that really got us off to a strong star the second half, which carried our momentum. Then we just have to do a better job of keeping our foot down.

But like Charli said now our plan is just to keep playing better and better as the tournament goes on.

Q. Courtney, how valuable is tournament experience? They had basically none. Your whole team has a lot, and you really have a lot, two championships in Connecticut. Did that pay off tonight a little bit?
COURTNEY EKMARK: I think so. We're definitely an experienced team. We have four seniors and we have juniors who have played a lot, and you know, it's our sixth tournament in a row for ASU. Definitely having that tournament experience helped us a lot.

Q. Kianna, 12-10 today. How important were those second-chance points in the flow of the game?
KIANNA IBIS: I mean, that's one of our goals for us posts and guards is to keep getting second shots because that's part of our best offense.

I mean, you know, it's win-or-go-home, so I was just trying to lock down and focus on rebounding today and the rest of the tournament.

Q. You guys dominated it the boards as well, a lot of offensive put backs the first quarter, first half. How big was that, relentlessly pounding the boards all night?
CHARNEA JOHNSON-CHAPMAN: Like Kianna said, we focus on second-chance shots because that's our best offense. Just being able to make a move and get the rebound and go right back up was pretty important.

Q. What was it like playing against an extensive aggressive zone, for all of you guys.
CAMRON GHORBI: Kianna, maybe you could start with that one.

KIANNA IBIS: It was definitely very physical today. Like Charli said, we play in like one of the best conferences, and you know, we've -- they are a pretty great team. I mean, it's been physical -- like it's been awhile since we played against a really physical team like them.

So we just -- we just knew we had to be aggressive and exceed their aggressiveness and keep punching.

Q. To any of the players. Is it difficult with basically no fan base here, coming all this distance? Is that difficult or you don't care, once you're on the court, you're on the court?
CAMRON GHORBI: Courtney, maybe you can start with that one.

COURTNEY EKMARK: I don't think it's difficult. We can bring our own energy.

COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: You didn't see our huge section behind the bench? (Laughter, cross-talk).

CAMRON GHORBI: You all are dismissed. Congratulations.

COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Should I share my battle wounds?

Q. What happened? Tell us.
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: We were out waiting to come in, they were talking about, "I got hit here, I got hit here," and all this stuff.

I said, "Yeah, I lost two nails."

Q. They nailed a lot of shots. Listen, you guys have been to the second round the last three years, I know you're sick of that. What's the mission? What's the mantra?
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, that's a great question. The mission is to get past the second round. You know, it will be a formidable challenge. We'll play a very good Florida team.

Obviously Miami has had an amazing season, and you know, is in my opinion the best 4-seed in the tournament, just having beat Louisville, having beat Notre Dame. You can never count out Florida Coast, either.

Like I already said, we've played Louisville. We've played Baylor. We've played all in the Pac-12. So we know if we do what we need to do, and a lot of it is going to be about rebounding, you know, for the month of March, we can advance.

So I know that this team is capable. We just have to keep playing better, as I said.

Q. (No microphone).
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: You know, it's in here and it's in here, yeah. I mean, they -- like you said, this team, a lot of second rounds, and that's not what our program's about. We're definitely a team that can make a deep run, if they are ready to empty out and really lock in.

We had too many possessions off today to be honest, and they know it. So that effort is not going to get us to Portland. We know this.

But that's the great thing. We know this. They are not, ohhh in the locker room; oh my gosh, we won a game.

They are like, okay, what's next? We've already talked about potential opponents. They have some scouts. They are headed out to watch. We want to get to Portland, you know, and we want to -- we know, no matter who is in our way, we're capable of beating them if we play well.

Q. (No microphone. )
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: It's so funny, you send an Arizona team to Florida because everybody else would be in paradise. We're like, oh, yeah -- we're not as humid but we have the same gorgeous weather, so it's kind of lost on us. But it is beautiful here.

Q. For Courtney to get off with a 20-point outing, how important is it for her, especially, given her experience, going through this before?
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, exactly. Well, she is probably the most, she has been the most closely guarded player that I've ever coached in 30 years of coaching and 25 as Division I coach. Every game in the Pac-12, she was just blanketed.

So when she knew we were playing against zone, she was like, yes. We knew she would get some good looks and she's just an amazing shooter. So you know, that's what she's capable of doing, and I think Colorado, first year, Pac-12 tournament, she had five or six threes and that really helps us.

It really helps us. She's definitely a tremendous player, and you can see she scores other ways, too. We don't really have five people shooting the 3-ball really well, so it makes a big difference when Courtney is on.

Q. How important of a player is Reili, who has a high assist-to-turnover ratio against an extended aggressive defense like UCF?
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, and you brought up the defense, and we haven't played a team like this all year long, so it was -- it was a challenge. I think that's why Central Florida is so good. I mean, how many teams press the entire game?

You know, even when they were giving up stuff, they just -- you know -- and they do a great job of adjusting during the game, and so, okay, we're doing this, and we were ready for that. So when they adjusted, we adjusted whether we were 3 o'clock passing or picking them off. That's a lot to play against.

I thought Reili, she's got a great chance of graduating with our all-time assist record at ASU and we had Coach Briann January and some great players have come before her. She's running her team really well and she was integral to handle all that pressure, and when they were going to trap and you know, when their aggressiveness -- well, really their aggressiveness was from start to finish. I can see why, again, they had such a great season.

We don't usually turn the ball over that much, so they definitely sped us up and didn't allow a lot of flow. And I didn't really want to play her that long but she was doing such a great job, had to leave her out there.

Q. Last week one of the things in that loss to UCLA you touched on was losing the out-rebounding battle. How important was it to bounce back in this game and get the job done on the glass?
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Yeah, like I said, it's everything in March. Rebounding wins championships, it's true, and possessions. It's a game of possessions.

I think we can still improve on our rebounding effort and obviously if we end up, depending on who we play, we could end up playing possibly the best offensive rebounding team in the country, so it's going to be huge.

Q. What was the message to your team when you took that early time-out in the fourth when UCF started to make a little bit of a run?
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: We're fine. I just wanted to settle them down. You know, I mean, obviously nobody is going to go away. It's March. You know, everybody, it's win-or-go-home and they made a great run. I said their run is over. Lock it down. You guard them this long, don't stop guarding them and that was the key, and just the little bit that they were going to keep being in passing lanes and getting more and more aggressive so he with just talked a little about that, just with our alignments.

Q. Obviously one of the keys was to really contain Kay Kay Wright, only player on the team scoring double figures. How did you succeed in doing that and do you think that will occur with your next opponent? It's probably doubtful, that only one player scores double figures.
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Well, yeah, you know, the thing about Central Florida is they play more people than we do, which is rare for anybody that's not familiar with us. We usually actually spread our minutes out a little better than we did today.

You know, they play up to 13 people, and so I think their stats are a little bit deceiving because they have four posts that play a lot and if you add their stats up, they are really in double figures.

So they did a great job with their inside game. But I thought we did a good job with her in the first half. Thought we let up with her down the stretch and a great player is going to step up and we gave her some good looks. I thought it was key that we locked her down and didn't really let her get going until maybe the fourth quarter.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Reili, Kiki, we rotated them on a little bit. We were supposed to be jumping out more on some stuff but team effort. Team effort. I that you will Reili and Kiki, Kiara Russell, did a great job.

Q. (No microphone.)
COACH CHARLI TURNER THORNE: Sure was. Because I called a really bad play. It was my fault. Shouldn't have called that play. And then our freshman took it out and it was like oh -- thank you, came back. Always need a little bit of luck this time of year, too.

CAMRON GHORBI: Thank you, Coach, and congratulations.

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