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April 7, 2019

Muffet McGraw

Brianna Turner

Arike Ogunbowale

Tampa, Florida

Baylor-82, Notre Dame-81

THE MODERATOR: Joining now is Notre Dame. We'll take a statement from coach and then take questions.

MUFFET McGRAW: Really frustrated. Well, I'm sad for the seniors that we came that close after getting down 17, clawing our way back. We had so many missed opportunities both ends of the floor. Defensively, offensive rebounds we gave up just really I felt lost the game in the first quarter. We just didn't come out ready. That was disappointing.

But I thought Jackson really was the key to the game. We really couldn't guard her. Brown gave us a lot of trouble, as well. Those two really played well.

It was a great season. Certainly a great career for Arike, Marina, Jess and Bri.

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Was Arike trying to miss the second free throw?

Q. Marina seems like she's the one who brings your energy level up. She did a couple times in this game. What is it that allows her to not just do that, but make her teammates better in real-time?
MUFFET McGRAW: She's incredibly competitive, feisty. I mean, it hurt us when she got the two fouls in the first half because we lost our edge. She was really, really the one that was getting things done for us on the floor. It was difficult playing without her.

Q. It looked like it was a war out there. The referees let you play tonight, didn't they?
BRIANNA TURNER: Definitely. We knew coming in it was going to be a physical game. Baylor comes from the Big 12. A lot of big players. So we knew coming in, it was going to be a fight the whole way through.

ARIKE OGUNBOWALE: They were really physical and their posts played strong. Their guards were strong. We knew it was going to be tough.

Q. Brianna, will you address what the impact you thought of the Cox injury was, just sort of did you feel like you needed a moment to regroup there as well?
BRIANNA TURNER: I think it's always tough whenever a player goes down from either team. But we have to play through those injuries no matter what happens. We wanted to keep fighting no matter who was in or out of the game.

Q. Arike, you've had a chance to win these games, then you're at the line with a chance to tie it. 80% foul shooter. What is your level of shock?
ARIKE OGUNBOWALE: I mean, it's tough. It's tough. You can't really do anything about that one.

Q. Brianna, Arike has put you guys through so many big moments with big shots. She kind of throws her head back after that free throw. What is going through your mind?
BRIANNA TURNER: It doesn't come down to the free throw. I missed the block the previous play. I mean, we were down a dozen at halftime. I mean, Kalani was, like, really hurting us down low. It didn't come down to a free throw. It was much more than that.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. We'll continue with questions for coach.

Q. Talk about the impact of the Cox injury, that period of time. You really made a charge at them after that point. Did you feel like you had to pull your kids together and regroup a little?
MUFFET McGRAW: Yeah, I don't think anybody wants to see that. We've had so many. Brings back bad memories. You kind of want to gather up, say a prayer in your head, hope she's okay.

But you've got to be resilient, just like we were last year. You've got to be able to come out. I thought Smith came in and gave them a huge lift. I thought she played really well.

Q. What did you say to Arike after that? Obviously she knows that it's not the free throw that makes the difference.
MUFFET McGRAW: The game didn't come down to that free throw. I mean, the game was 40 minutes. There were plenty of mistakes we made throughout the game that caused us to lose, most notably the first quarter. Just didn't come out ready.

Q. You had five people on the floor, of course, who can make shots in that situation. Any question in your mind that call was going to be for Arike in that spot? How much was what she's done in her career play a part in your decision?
MUFFET McGRAW: Yeah, we decided that probably a week ago. I mean, there's no question that's what was going to happen. Worked on that play in particular. Wasn't exactly how we thought it would go. She got to the free-throw line.

Q. Baylor's guards take 42 of their 73 shots. You would think that would be an advantage to you the way they play. You're a fourth quarter team. Is that because of the mental and physical conditioning you have?
MUFFET McGRAW: I think we're in pretty good shape. I think mentally they definitely have a higher gear that they can get to. We didn't quite get there on defense tonight. I thought we got there on offense.

What was the first part of your question?

Q. (No microphone.)
MUFFET McGRAW: Yeah, I mean, Jackson was having a day. We were actually trying to guard her. She just got a lot of really good shots, shot over us, went by us, scored in pretty much any way. Really, really stepped up in the big moment.

Q. Having won with this group last year, does it make it any easier to come this close tonight?
MUFFET McGRAW: No. You know, it's always tough to lose. I think you're always looking at that one thing you could have done differently to make the difference in the game. Just disappointed about our start. I mean, that was really unfortunate.

But knowing what this group has meant to us, it makes it tougher to lose this way.

Q. We got the stat that Arike Ogunbowale, second overall in points in this tournament, with her 37 tonight. Thinking back on what she's meant to Notre Dame, maybe what she can be at the next level, what would you say about Arike?
MUFFET McGRAW: I think she's going to be a great player in the WNBA. She is incredibly skilled, great work ethic, wants to win. She can score in a lot of different ways. Yeah, I think she's going to be a star.


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