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March 22, 2019

Keri Jewitt-Giles

Karl Smesko

Destiny Washingotn

Coral Gables, Florida

Miami 69, Florida Gulf Coast 62

COACH KARL SMESKO: In the first half, I didn't think that we shot the ball very well. We wasted some possessions, not getting into some actions, and we dug ourselves a little bit of a hole.

Proud of the way we fought back in the second half and rallied and gave ourselves a chance to win the game at the end, but you know, it didn't work out for us. But I'm proud of the effort our young ladies had and you know, we'll be back.

Q. Destiny, you guys, it was 7-0 and then it was like 26-14. Every time you guys got in that situation, you kept coming back. Was it a case of maybe just spent too much energy kind of going uphill all game in the fourth quarter during that drought for you guys? Do you think you guys got a little bit worn down and a little bit tired?
DESTINY WASHINGTON: No. Basketball is a game of runs and teams are going to go on runs. Once we saw that they were going up, we knew that it was our turn. I don't think we were tired. I just think that it's the game of basketball.

Q. Destiny, this was your first NCAA Tournament appearance. Felt like in the third quarter when you guys were really going on that run; you could see the emotion on the team. Was that the most fun you've had on a basketball court, shining on the brightest stage?
DESTINY WASHINGTON: It was definitely fun. I think the most fun was winning the conference tournament, but being on the court with these girls all season, all year, battling, working hard, it's fun for me every day.

So going on that run, it was definitely something special. We just couldn't finish it out.

Q. Obviously your lone year here at FGCU. If you can reflect on the year it was for you and your teammates.
DESTINY WASHINGTON: It was amazing. Coach Smesko recruited me after high school, and I say every day, I wish I had made that decision to come out of high school. But I'm very grateful he gave me another chance to come here because it was unbelievable.

Q. Similar thing. First NCAA Tournament experience, played spectacular and led the team in scoring. Was that why you came back, for moments like that?
KERI JEWITT-GILES: That's a part of it, but just really, just like Dest said, Coach recruited me out of high school and I didn't make the decision to come but I'm just glad I returned home because I learned so many things. Just glad Coach gave me the opportunity to come back and play for him.

Q. You said last week that this may be the last game that you play with FGCU. Have you had any more time to reflect on that decision?
KERI JEWITT-GILES: Yeah, actually, this was, I would say, my last game as of right now, but it's been a heck of a journey. So as of right now, yes, that was my last game.

Q. You guys had not been down double-digits too many times in year. Where do your kids find the poise? Were you surprised how well they hung in there, especially when it looked like it was getting away in the third?
COACH KARL SMESKO: No, I thought we were capable of playing better and I think everybody on our team thought we were capable of playing better.

We just needed -- we needed a little bit of a spark, a couple made shots, to really get things going. You know, I fully -- we called a second half surge, but we fully anticipated that second half and that third quarter that we were going to make it a game and. And.

Give our players credit, they made a lot of plays in that third quarter.

Q. We talked yesterday about the parity and I'm not sure of how much you watched today, but is this the way it's going to be in women's basketball now where in this first round, anybody pretty much can beat anybody?
COACH KARL SMESKO: Yeah, I think the teams, the 12s and 11s that are the last at-larges are really good conference tournament champions who get those positions. They can beat 4s and 5s.

You know, the system of ranking teams and RPI, it definitely favors bigger schools. That's what puts you in a position where, you know, you've got to be on the road like we were.

But this is what we want. We want to be in this tournament. We want to have a chance to win. We feel like we have a good program that, you know, we're going to break through and get to the Sweet 16 or better sometime soon. But wasn't to be today.

I give Miami a lot of credit. When we made the run on them, you know, they regained composure, made some good plays, some three-point plays. I give a lot of credit to some kids that don't typically shoot the three a lot. They dared them to shoot and they knocked it down. So I give them a lot of credit for making the plays they needed to.

Q. You mentioned that it was a road game, but just the fan support here from FGCU, what were your thoughts on them, specifically in the third quarter when you went on that run?
COACH KARL SMESKO: I mean, I could hear them, that's for sure. They were loud. They were with us. We brought a lot of people here to the game. I thought, you know, and Miami, also, had a lot of fans here. I thought it was a great atmosphere for an NCAA Tournament game.

It's hard for our players to appreciate it right now, because they are disappointed that they are not moving on, but when they look back at it, when you have that much energy in a building and play a game that level, it's something special.

Q. The 1-3-1 zone that they ran gave you guys trouble in 2017. Seemed like in the second quarter, it made it really tough on you guys. What is it about that zone in particular that makes it difficult on your offense?
COACH KARL SMESKO: Well, I would say two things. One, they have got really long athletes that it's tough to pass the ball around.

And two, you know, we didn't follow the game plan for a little bit, and we did the opposite of what we said we were going to do. And give them credit. They put pressure on you, and then you make those types of mistakes.

But you know, that was definitely a situation where we wasted too many possessions against a 1-3-1 where we didn't get the kind of shots we wanted, and that helped them get to the two-point lead.

Q. The two women sitting to your left that are now gone, they won't be back with FGCU, at least according to Keri at the moment. Your thoughts on their legacy, they only played one year, but the impact it made on this program?
COACH KARL SMESKO: Well, they had a great season, that's for sure. They are both excellent players. We wouldn't be in this situation without them.

Keri has been outstanding and has picked it up even more once we lost Lisa for the season, and that was a time we really needed her to step up and she was there for us. Came up big in the conference tournament. Was the tournament MVP. Had a little bit of a slow start tonight but she really got it going. Started knocking down some shots. She was someone that really helped us get back into the game.

And Dest is an outstanding all around player. She's had a great season. She's an all-conference level player. I wish we had her longer.

Q. You said in the third quarter that you anticipated you would make it a game. Was that because of adjustments you made or the ebb and flow of the game that you expected?
COACH KARL SMESKO: A lot of the time it's not really adjustments so much as it is reminders of getting back to what we said we were going to do.

I thought when we came out in the third quarter, they were ready to go to get started, again and when we hit a couple shots early, all of a sudden everybody was in on the game plan and getting the kind of shots that we were looking to get and moving the ball a little bit better; catching it; shot-faking; attacking the paint; moving it to a teammate.

When we had really good ball movement and had things going with being able to attack off the dribble, get to the paint, we did really well.

When we passed it and stared at the ball and waited on a kid to go one-on-one, that's not our game. We just wasted too many possessions doing that.

Q. You might have touched on this a little bit, but we noticed you guys did look a little bit confused in your halfcourt offense at some point in the second or third quarter. Did you have conversations with the girls about wanting to push the ball more?
COACH KARL SMESKO: Well, we wanted to push it every position. We wanted to put pressure on them in conversion every possession. There were a few possessions on offense where, you know, we got out of position and didn't talk to one another. To, you know, run the actions that we were looking to run, and that just -- that costs you.

You can't -- you're playing a really good team. We did a pretty good job on possessions. I mean, we forced more turnovers. We didn't give up a ton of offensive rebounds against a really athletic team, but you can still waste possessions if you just don't run your offense right or if you don't move the ball enough.

That was how we -- you know, even though we had a possession advantage, maybe we wasted too many where we didn't really execute our offense the way we wanted to.

Q. We now how formidable their front court is, but you touched on it a bit, that their guards had some big shots to start the fourth quarter and stretched the lead out with the clock. Was that something you wanted, to limit their bigs inside as much as possible, but knowing there are some capable shooters out there and they hit some big shots like you said?
COACH KARL SMESKO: They definitely have some good shooters, so we were trying to hold off the kids who don't shoot as many threes to give our post some help because they do have some dominant posts, and those kids hit shots.

You know, they hit at least four threes from those positions. So you know, those are the things that are a little bit of a gamble. We typically don't do that during the season but we thought we needed to help our bigs a little bit.

Although they did a fantastic job defensively, both Dest and Ty. But you know, this is one of those times where you take a calculated risk and it didn't work out.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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