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March 6, 2020

Mark Trakh

Endyia Rogers

Aliyah Jeune

Las Vegas, Nevada

UCLA - 73, USC - 66

MARK TRAKH: Yeah, I'm really proud of these kids. They battled, they fought, they have improved during the year. Like I said, we played five freshmen, a sophomore and a senior for the last month of the season, and these kids just grew up, and they played with a lot of poise, a lot of heart.

They left everything out there on the floor today against No. 8 team in the country, a great UCLA team.

Just terribly proud of these kids, of Aliyah Jeune, sitting next to me here, who came back from a solid knee injury about three weeks ago, and she's back to help our team. And Endyia Rogers, who had a great game as a freshman, the way she handled the pressure. And Kayla, who played her heart out.

Just really proud of these kids and what they have done. They have come along way. The future looks good. We'll hopefully make a run in the WNIT.

But I'm really happy with these kids. I'm really happy with the resolve they showed and the pride they showed and the fight they showed.

So, you know, hats off to UCLA. You know, they're a great team. I love this team. I love their culture, I love how together they are, and I love how they fight. I can't say enough about my team. You know, just very, very proud of them.

Q. Coach, you mentioned WNIT. I'm guessing Arizona ran last year as the springboard to what they've done this year, are you hoping with a young team you're doing the same thing, a good run there --
MARK TRAKH: I just used the exact same words you used, springboard. You know, I tell the team let's use it as a springboard like Arizona did. That's what we intend to do. We're going to get a few days off and get ready for it.

Q. Endyia, for you, tough, your teammates in foul trouble, you play with so much pride, so much heart, wanting to give a spark. Not necessarily to take the game over, but provide some kind of spark. At one point you had missed eight or nine straight, you had some good looks, the ball was rattling in and out. Is that tough for you when you're coming down, to decide you're going to dish, look for an open person, or take the shot yourself?
ENDYIA ROGERS: No, it's not really tough for me. I just read what the defense gives me. I knew I had to pick it up a bit because they were keying in on Alissa. So when they take her away, I have to step up, and so do my teammates.

Q. Piggybacking off of that question, can you talk about what was going through your mind when you saw Endyia taking over the game and you were trying to tell her slow down, and you said slow down, she scored anyway?
MARK TRAKH: Yeah, the reason I told her to slow down was because we were in a 2-for-1 situation. We wanted to make sure we got the 2-for-1, but she made the bucket anyway, so we got the 2-for-1. I just needed her to -- we give her freedom, but I need her not to force the issue too.

You know, I need her to be smart when she goes and when she goes toe the hole. It is the fine line between letting your kid have freedom and, at the same time, not too much freedom.

She's learning. She'll learn that as we move on.

Q. You did pretty good taking care of the ball the first three quarters, and things fell apart in the fourth. What happened in the fourth to cause all of the turnovers that ended up leading to points for them?
ALIYAH JEUNE: UCLA applied a lot of pressure. They're a pretty good defensive team. So the pressure, they turned it up on us, and we were ratted at times. But we're used to it. We played them twice already. So it is just unfortunate. We turned the ball over. Just simple mistakes.

MARK TRAKH: Yeah, we kind of -- playing as hard as we had to play last night, we ran out of gas a little at the end there.

Q. You had a phenomenal second half in that game, you know, leading the team. Towards the end of the fourth quarter, I noticed you started to limp a little bit with your leg. Is everything okay? Did you tweak it a little bit? What do you think the status is?
ALIYAH JEUNE: Everything is fine. My knee is still in the healing process, so it just hurt a little bit, I had a cramp too. I'll be okay with this rest.

Q. Endyia, how frustrating is it when you feel like the game is not being properly called? How do you handle those situations? And you as a freshman, what did you learn through this experience?
MARK TRAKH: She probably can't comment on the officiating at all. You can comment on your play.

ENDYIA ROGERS: Well, I mean, we just have to play through it, stay poised throughout everything, and just keep moving.

Q. Down the stretch, Michaela took over for them, she scored 18 of their final 29 points. When you're in foul trouble hike that, Coach, you see her take over, is there anything you can do other than tell them to get in the way?
MARK TRAKH: When we start out, our player-to-player defense was good in the first quarter, but then we got in foul trouble and had to go to the zone. That opened it up for Chou to make some threes.

Had we not gotten into foul trouble, we would have never gone to that zone. For a number of reasons. We have a short bench. So by fouling, we have to sub, we have to put people in different positions that hadn't practiced those positions, and we had to zone, and we're a player-to-player team because we have to protect our players. So the foul trouble really affected the game.

Q. Aliyah, you're a senior, so you guys get to go to the WNIT. I know you were probably hoping for a NCAA when you came here, but for you, these are your last games, what are your emotions and what do you tell some of your teammates who are just freshman, like Endyia, as you go into this WNIT tournament soon?
ALIYAH JEUNE: You know, this loss is a little encouraging, you know, because it's like we have momentum, we know we gave everything. We have another opportunity to play together as a team. We'll be well rested. We'll be going over our sets and all the extra we need to do.

We're going to go into this WNIT with a winning mindset and a lot of momentum to win the whole thing.

Q. On Sunday we're all going to celebrate International Women's Day. I'm wondering if each of you can speak about an important female figure in your life. It doesn't have to be tied to basketball, just somebody that's really touched you.
ALIYAH JEUNE: Well, of course the most important figure in my life is my mom. She's my rock, my motivation, and she's always, you know, been in my corner. So that's who I would pick.

ENDYIA ROGERS: My mom is my motivation as well. She keeps me going, gives me encouraging words. When I'm down, she's always there. She helps me with everything literally. I do everything for her.

MARK TRAKH: Same question? Can you repeat the question? Yeah. My girlfriend, Carmen Garza, who is like the team mom and just a very strong, independent woman. She's a federal judge out of Las Cruces. She's been a lawyer, she's been a public figure, she's strong and she's a good role model for our kids. She's around them all the time helping them, mentoring them. So I would have to give a shoutout to my girlfriend, Carmen Garza.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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