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March 29, 2019

Scott Rueck

Katie McWilliams

Mikayla Pivec

Albany, New York

Louisville - 61, Oregon State - 44

SCOTT RUECK: Well, congratulations to Louisville, first off. Excellent team, great defensive team, and then just made the plays, you know, to win tonight, and that's what great teams do. They hurt us in transition. They had just a couple spurts where they separate. They hit big shots early in this game to get the initial separation from us over the top. Fuehring was tough, I thought. She just was a leader, like she is.

I loved our effort tonight, however. I thought we played an excellent game with the exception of shooting the ball. The ball just didn't fall, and that's basketball.

They did a nice job taking the rim away, forced us into perimeter shots. But before tonight, anyway, we were fourth in the nation in three-point percentage, so that's something we were very comfortable with. For whatever reason they just didn't go, so 2 of 22 in a game that's 10 points with five minutes to go.

Looking back, I liked what we were getting, I just wish there was another gear to hit or something else to do. But give them credit for taking the rim away.

This team is unbelievable. Incredible character, incredible heart. Had a phenomenal season, Jo and Katie did a great job as seniors for us. And so afterwards I just said thank you. I said thank you for doing everything right, for competing the right way and being incredible role models. They've had a phenomenal season, and the ball just didn't bounce our way tonight.

Q. For both of you two, Coach said shots just weren't falling. Was it one of those nights where you were getting looks, shots just weren't going in the basket?
MIKAYLA PIVEC: Yeah, I felt like we got a lot of really good looks on the outside. They were helping on the drives, and we had that kickback and we also had opportunities for the guards to hit threes, and they just weren't falling for us today. We've had a little bit of a stretch in this last month where we haven't shot is as well as we usually do.

KATIE McWILLIAMS: Yeah, shots weren't falling, but I thought we had a great defensive game. We held them to 61 points, which is a lot lower than their average, so just proud of what this team was able to do even though we lost and even though we weren't shooting as well as we usually do.

Q. Katie, question for you: Just when you think about where the program was when you came and where the program is now, what do you think the significance is of it that you're here in the Sweet 16, and that may even feel like a disappointment, given all that you've accomplished and given all that the program is able to do?
KATIE McWILLIAMS: You know, it's been a high-end program ever since I came. My freshman year went to the Final Four and then another Sweet 16, Elite 8, Sweet 16. We're nothing but competitors, and it's nothing but a great culture and family program. I mean, they're going to be doing big things for a long time, especially under Scott, and I know that my teammates that continue to play here are just going to do amazing things as just basketball players and people.

Q. Katie kind of said it, but if you went into this game and someone told you Louisville would have 61 points by the end of the game and 44 after three, I'm guessing you would probably think you guys would be in pretty good shape to win the game?
SCOTT RUECK: I did. Just like I said, we got shots we knew we would get. We missed stuff at the rim even, we missed a couple free throws that we normally make. You know, but I liked what we had. Defensively I felt just as we studied them, it was nice to have more than a day to study them in the depth that I wanted to from a year ago.

You know, I thought we made them go to the spots on the floor we wanted them to. We made them miss, we made them shoot 40 percent. Our score is 17 1/2 points less than their average, and that's what we do. We're known for that, and we executed those things.

We couldn't get anything going inside. Give them credit. We got the shots for the most part that we wanted on the perimeter, they just didn't fall. And so I don't know, that's basketball, I guess.

But, yes, I was very pleased with our effort tonight. Just unfortunate that it didn't go down. Because it's a completely different game if we're hitting shots, you know. They hit a bunch of shots but they're up on the board. There's no scoreboard pressure. If we come out and we knock some shots down and close the gap even sooner or earlier or further in the first quarter, then maybe some of those perimeter post shots are a little tighter, and that's the game.

But they were able to keep us at bay, took pressure off them, were able to continue to score in the fourth.

Q. Third quarter it looked like you guys tried a few different things. I saw Katie play out at the point and Mikayla. Were you just trying some stuff just to kind of shake things up and hope to get some offense at some point?
SCOTT RUECK: I'm always trying stuff, and so, yes, I was trying some stuff. Just the way they were shifting their defense, I thought, could give us a couple different options. Moving Destiny around I thought would be good for us, so that was part of that. Katie. This team has been blessed with four point guards that have played significant time at the 1, Katie being one of them. And so putting the ball in her hands has always been, for the most part, a good thing for us. Sees the floor so well. And so that was one thing to try.

But you've got to try something, you know, just to spark a little bit of confidence. What if one of those would have gone down? Honestly, if one of those shots would have gone down I think everybody could have just relaxed, like okay, this is the one, this is the one that's going down, and this is the one, and there were a couple -- a couple from the other side where I'm kind of lined up with the ball, like that's going down. Just didn't.

Give them credit for being great on the defensive glass. We won the boards by eight, another category that I felt great about. However, when we needed that extra little O-board, they did a great job on the defensive boards to hold us to one shot.

Q. When you look up tonight, there were a few teams in the Pac-12, like you, UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford -- when you look up, there's a slew of teams that came into this tournament. I know you can't speak for everybody, but just talk about how tough it is to win in the Pac-12 and what does it say when you have that many teams coming down this deep into the tournament?
SCOTT RUECK: Yeah, well, it's a pleasure to be a part of such a fantastic group. The competition in our league, it feels like tonight every night. Our last nine games -- I'm a big mass e-rating fan. I don't know if anybody else is, but personally I go there. I've gone there ever since my D-III days, because they rate Division III. Right now there's nine teams in the top 35. Our last nine Pac-12 games were against those teams. The Sweet 16 teams, Cal and Arizona on the road.

And so it's just been an absolute grind, and so we're all battle tested. It didn't surprise me that UCLA came in and played the way they did tonight with as much toughness as they did in their game. Nothing fazed us tonight. It was just a night where the ball didn't go for us. In fact, we just walked by the scoreboard, this is the same score as our Stanford game down there where it was an amazing defensive performance, the ball just didn't fall for us. And that's actually where our shooting struggles began that night, on a night very similar.

You know, and so this conference, I knew everybody would be battle tested and ready for the tournament no matter what tournament it was and they would do well. So I don't see it changing, either. The coaches are just too good throughout and everybody is recruiting so well and working so hard.

Q. As someone who's sent plenty of players to the WNBA, I'm curious in two parts: Number one, when you think about Destiny and getting her from here to there a year from now, what do you see as what needs to happen next? And just also on Asia, just from seeing her up close the last couple years, what do you think stands out and will make her an elite pro at the next level?
SCOTT RUECK: Yeah, and hopefully for Destiny it's two years. She's got two for us.

Well, they're both dynamic. When you look at a player, like you mentioned, we've put four in the WNBA the last three years, and each one of them had a unique skill. Each one of them was un-guardable one-on-one. Each one of them commanded a double-team. Each one of them had an incredible work ethic and had ultimate confidence. And so Destiny is on her way.

Taking a year off is hard. Last year she played the 3 in practice because we needed Mikayla Pivec and Aleah Goodman to get every rep at the point, because those were our point guards last year. For her to now step into the 1, to step into a conference that defends and is as tactical as the Pac-12 has been, there's been growing pains for her. We defend differently than anything that she'd been used to.

So I just spoke to her in the locker room and told her how proud I was of her taking on all this this year with so much scrutiny and pressure and so many eyes on her in this limelight position that she's in. I've never coached a player with that much hype and that much attention going into a season with zero experience playing for us. It was really a unique year. I think she's handled it phenomenally.

She's got another gear to hit in preparation. The game is so easy for her, show up and be the best kid on the floor, get a shot off whenever you feel like it, and she's just so dynamic in her skill set and her athleticism.

For her, the future is just a different level of prep in every way, and just to see herself as somebody that is a number one draft pick, and to do all those things. So she's on her way. It's been a learning year.

For Asia, I mean, what can you say about her? She's elite in every way. I was thinking before the game just that commitment for Louisville, what that's meant for them to get her and what she can do for that team and how she makes everybody so confident.

Her ability not only to create her own shot but to draw defense, to understand the game and to create opportunities for her teammates, as well, and then you saw a couple fantastic defensive plays. She's somebody that's fantastic on both ends of the floor, which at that level you've got to have, and then I like her ball security. She doesn't make mistakes, and I know at the WNBA they don't like turnovers. She's going to be a fantastic pro.

Yeah, and she's a classy competitor, too. I'll tell you that. I haven't interacted with her much, but even tonight it was a real nice greeting after the game: Congrats, Coach, you do a great job. She doesn't need to say that stuff, but she did. So I'm a fan.

Q. Scott, obviously you guys have proven during the season you're a really good shooting team from the perimeter, but the last few weeks haven't been real great. Is it possible -- you've talked about the grind. Did fatigue set in here late in the season maybe, and maybe that was a little bit of the reason?
SCOTT RUECK: Maybe. We shot lights out in our practice yesterday. I mean, and we went the bare minimum amount of time that we could. We didn't miss. Maybe that was a problem. Maybe I should have cut off practice as soon as we made a shot and said save them for tomorrow.

But I don't know about that. I mean, lay-ups are easier to make through fatigue for sure than perimeter shots. But there's a lot of threes going down for other teams.

The grind of the conference, who knows. You can speculate all you want. I don't know. There's no way for me truly to know that. Shots looked good to me.

But it has been a grind, I'll tell you that. It has been a grind. But I liked our energy. I liked our effort, and we defended extremely well. And so I think we had plenty of fuel in the tank. Just didn't fall.

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