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March 28, 2019

Anriel Howard

Teaira McCowan

Jazzmun Holmes

Portland, Oregon

THE MODERATOR: Mississippi State with us. First of all, welcome to Portland, ladies. Anriel, start by talking about being here at this point in the NCAA tournament.

ANRIEL HOWARD: All right. Well, we're very honored to be here. I think we're deserving of it if we keep pushing. We have big goals, big plans for what we want to do. It's one game at a time, one game at a time. I think if we just stay focused, we can get the job done.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.

Q. Teaira, what do you think about Arizona State's post defense, how they were able to perform well against Miami, what you're expecting out of them?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: I'm expecting them to guard me very toughly. It's going to be a physical game down there. I'm just keeping an open mind to that.

Q. Jazzmun, what do you remember about the Arizona State game, playing against them last year?
JAZZMUN HOLMES: I remember their post players getting out and running in transition. They had some really good guards that could shoot it and stretch it. I mean, overall their team was really aggressive. I mean, we have to be ready for that, yeah.

Q. Anriel, I know when we talked a little bit about this a few weeks ago, the chemistry piece, where do you feel like it is with this team now that you're in post-season and you've been able to play almost 35 games now? Where do you feel you guys are as a whole unit?
ANRIEL HOWARD: I feel like we've improved tremendously just from the beginning to now. I think we're understanding the personnels on the team a lot better. Jazz will know who is spotting up where. Just little things like that, I think we all know that with each other now. That helps us just offensively and defensively. I think our chemistry has definitely improved a lot.

That's all just about trust. I think now that we're understanding that, we're trusting each other.

Q. Anriel, what is it like being in this setting with Mississippi State as opposed to what you're accustomed to with Texas A&M?
ANRIEL HOWARD: It's great. I'm grateful for the opportunity. This is something I've always wanted. I mean, I want to win. I know that with these group of girls and coaches, we can get it done.

I look at it in a different stance now just because, even though I've been here, I just know it's a different team, different expectations, different standards. I'm just grateful to be a part of it.

Q. Jazz, you just broke Morgan's record for assists in a single season. What does that mean to you as somebody that came up behind her, worked behind her, learned from her, to get a chance to break a record like that?
JAZZMUN HOLMES: I didn't know until I looked on social media (smiling). I mean, I'm honored. It's a credit to my teammates, making shots. I wouldn't get the assists if they didn't make shots. Just a credit to them. Going to keep pushing to break another record, so...

Q. Jazz, I was talking to Andy, coach even mentioned it, too, about how she spreads the floor. Especially after Chloe went down, you needed a player like that. How much easier does it make your job as a point guard when you know if a possession is going badly, you always have that option to kick it out and she can knock down a shot?
JAZZMUN HOLMES: Just like last year, we had Blair on the wing. I would find her in certain spots. Andy is the same way. She can knock it down. When she's hot, she's hot.

Just being able to have her on the wing being able to knock down shots is good for our team, and we need that, so...

Q. T, coach said you kind of flipped a switch following the Valentine's Day loss. Do you feel that was a turning point for you and you became kind of more focused at that point?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: Uhm, I guess you could say that. I wasn't too dialed in. For some reason, that game, it just wasn't going for me. From that point forward, I just had to be more focused and tell myself I had to be ready going into each and every game from that point on.

Q. Jazzmun, this question was asked of Coach Schaefer. Talking about you look at the results, it may not look like your team was challenged necessarily because you have been playing so well. Talk about a time during the post-season where you or as a team felt challenged on the floor.
JAZZMUN HOLMES: When we went to South Carolina, I felt like we were challenged that game. We were down I believe seven or nine at halftime. So I think coach got ticked up. After that we were fired up. We got stops. I think we came in to Teaira a couple times, she made plays for us. Anriel made plays for us. I think we were challenged during that game and we came out victorious, so...

Q. T, there was another time that coach talked about the UConn game a few years back when you lost by however much it was. He said of all the players on the court, you might have been the one that never seemed scared, always seemed confident. Is that sort of the mentality you have every single game? There's been games where teams might have gotten to you and everything, but is that the type of confidence that allows you to play the way you've played so far in the tournament?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: I would say so. I mean, I respect all my opponents. At the same time it's like, Okay, you're another team. You're trying to beat me as well as I'm trying to beat you. Going into the game, okay, get past the name on the front of jersey as well as on the back. Just go out there and play basketball. Got to make plays, get stops. People are going to go on a run. That doesn't frighten me.

At the end, I trust my team, know we're going to go out there and accomplish the mission.

Q. Teaira and Jazz, you played in the ASU game last year in Cancun. They're known for their defense. What makes them as good as they are on defense?
TEAIRA McCOWAN: They're a swarming team. They get up, they pressure you, they play their zone. They're going to leave one in, so who can guard out on the wing. We have to be dialed in on offense, know where we're supposed to be, know what gaps to attack when we're playing them.

JAZZMUN HOLMES: They get out and deny. I think we have to attack pressure with pressure, like coach always says. I think that's what makes them good on defense, they think it out, deny, pressure the ball.

Q. Anriel, you said to me a couple weeks ago, coach has said the same thing, you feel like you've changed tremendously as a basketball player since you came to Mississippi State. How much of an influence Teaira has had on that, the way you have worked with each other in the post, also what we just talked about, what have you learned about mentality and being confident from Teaira?
ANRIEL HOWARD: I think that me as a basketball player, I think Teaira and I compete every day, if that's on the boards, we're on different teams, got to go against her. I think that she makes me a better competitor, which is really good.

When I am going against her, I have to find ways to maybe score or get her, anything. It's helping me with my game overall. I think the competitive part is the strongest factor, I believe.

What was your second question, again, I'm sorry? I didn't remember.

Q. You pretty much answered. How she's affected you, sort of made you the better player that you said you are.
ANRIEL HOWARD: Just the competitiveness, I think that really helps me. Even just helping me be a leader on this team because I'm new, was trying to learn the ropes. I'm finally understanding. She's guided me, as well as Jazz. They've both helped me in that aspect.

THE MODERATOR: Ladies, thank you for your time. We wish you the best of luck against Arizona State tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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