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March 8, 2006

Shalee Lehning

Jessica McFarland

Deb Patterson


COACH PATTERSON: I thought it was just a great Big 12 tournament basketball game. Two teams really battling possession by possession. Obviously Sophia Young just dominated most of the basketball game in the paint, like she is known to do, but I thought tonight she was just tremendous, her numbers across the board are just as good as it gets.
So once again, I think Sophia was by and large the difference-maker in this basketball game and just great credit to the All-American and I think one of best players in the history of Big 12 women's basketball.
Q. The last shot with time running out, was it just too wide open?
SHALEE LEHNING: You know, in that situation, it's kind of hard to think of what to do, time is running down and you've got to think fast, but I just tried to get the best shot I could I guess. You know, I think it was a good look but it just rolled out and that's the way it went.
Q. You had a shot there at the end of regulation, your off-balance three, talk about that and what was going on down in the final two seconds when you hit that shot?
SHALEE LEHNING: I just tried to get open and my teammates do a great job of trying to get me the ball, I just square up and see a little bit of the room I could and tried it get a shot off and it went in.
Q. Jessica, can you talk about how physical the game was down there in the post for you guys?
JESSICA McFARLAND: Well, the game was definitely very physical. I mean, Sophia, she had 35 points and they were not easy points. We were banging as hard as we could in there. I think we all have battle scars. It was just a tremendous -- we put everything out there and it was just a great game for both teams. They ended up scoring more points, that's how it goes.
Q. Can you comment on your player that was hurt earlier? And Shalee scored a lot last night but was only able to get a couple of points tonight?
COACH PATTERSON: I think the difference tonight obviously was -- the first question, she's got a headache, so she's probably, I don't want to diagnose her, but she's got a headache. And she really did, hit her head really hard. I know when I first went over there, she was really having a difficult time focusing and getting attention, any kind of look in her eyes that looked attentive, so I know she really took a big hit on the head. Hopefully, you know, she'll be feeling better later tonight and tomorrow, but I know it was significant.
As far as Lehning goes, the difference tonight was Baylor decided to guard her very tight, and I really only recall a couple of possessions when they looked to give her that space on the perimeter, anyway. And so they defended her significantly different than the night before.
Q. Last night, Shalee did her thing, and tonight Kimberly really steps up and of course Claire does her thing, can you talk about the progress of this team in the last couple of games, especially maybe since the last time you faced Baylor?
COACH PATTERSON: I think our team has continued to improve and evolve. You know, particularly this last, I would just say these last five games, especially. I feel like individually, and collectively, they have begun to understand a higher level of accountability, they have greater confidence in their own roles, they have greater confidence in -- greater understanding I think of how to complete possessions and not get overwhelmed emotionally about the nature a game can take on, deficits and leads and losing leads and regaining leads, which, you know, I'm always fascinated by everybody overanalyzing that, anyway.
It's a game, it's 40 minutes, you know. It's probably not going to be nip and tuck. I think our team has learned how to keep it closer to nip and tuck, and that's made us better down the stretch. It's a team of young players that are very, very hungry and extremely competitive and very coachable and they just keep working at it. I think it has shown itself to be true that, you know, they are continuing become a better team every game we play.
Tonight was another big step. We just played a Top-10 team to overtime, and I think we are playing like a Top-20 basketball team. I think we are a team that is more than qualified to be in the NCAA Tournament. And I know we'll have the opportunity to play postseason either in the WNIT or the NCAA Tournament, and we're looking forward to continuing to play and get better.
Q. If you ended up not making the NCAA Tournament, how do you approach the rest of the postseason with your team?
COACH PATTERSON: Well, I don't know from the NCAA's point of view, if they watched that game, I would think they would put us in without the blink of an eye, you know, or even our last three games. I don't know that you could play any better, short of winning a basketball game. And if we are not admitted into the NCAA Tournament, we will be ecstatic about the opportunity to be in the WNIT Tournament.
I think this is a basketball team that wants to continue to play. It's an opportunity to do just that. The WNIT is a great opportunity for a team like ours. If we end up in the WNIT to continue to advance and develop and compete, that's what we love to do. So we are hopeful for an NCAA Tournament bid, certainly, but we know that when it comes to NCAA Tournament bids and selections and seeds, anything can happen.
Q. If the law of averages had worked out and you won one or two, would that have made a difference getting into the NCAA?
COACH PATTERSON: Speaking of overtime, especially as a team that's as young as ours is, it's incredibly impressive that they have been able to press games to that point. Relatively speaking as inexperienced and young and sometimes shallow, you know, as we can be, in terms of depth, I think pushing the game into overtime and being able to battle it down another five minutes is a great thing.
You know, certainly, I'm very proud of our basketball team for being as competitive as they have been all year. I think there are a couple of games in there, I think there were two overtime games. The overtime game against Nebraska I think is one that we didn't compete nearly as well as obviously we did against Texas and against Baylor. I would say the same for the Missouri contest. But I think it team is very, very tough-minded from that standpoint.
Q. Comment on Claire's game, I think she's put four pretty productive games together for you now as a leader.
COACH PATTERSON: Yeah, I think we've got great consistency from Claire the last stretch, the last four games. I think she's been very focused going in and you know, we've seen the intensity of effort on both the defensive and offensive ends that gives our basketball teams a chance to be good and gives her a chance to be her best. And I think the numbers that she's put up have been very impressive and numbers that she's more than capable of bringing to the table.
She's as athletic of a perimeter player with as versatile a package as we've seen. I think it's been a big factor in the success that we've had these last four games to see her emerge consistent and competitive in these games.
Q. You just went against probably the best post player in America, how much does that help them, how much of a learning experience is that, and second, she's has had an up did and down year, how big of a game was this in terms of hitting big shots for you?
COACH PATTERSON: It was a great game for details and very big. It should really boost her confidence, her understanding of how she can impact a game. I think we're seeing her willingness to take big, important shots, improving and becoming a part of her arsenal. I think tonight what was interesting was we really had offensively, we had two perimeters that contributed for us with production, that's Dietz and Coggins. That puts even more pressure when you don't have a third perimeter that's producing offensively after the two or three spot, not at the point spot but the two or the three.
I thought Dietz played with a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, too, which was big, not only because you're being defended by the great athletes of Baylor, but also because you're not getting that production from your perimeters off the bench. So you know you've got to bring it, and I think that's a maturing experience for Dietz and I thought she handled it very well and it's great to see her willing to take the big shots down the stretch.
Great experience, it took Marlies awhile to get on track and in a flow offensively and defensively. The first four or five minutes were not good ones for her, and then all of a sudden she emerged on the board. She began to stop conceding some things and by the time the game was down the stretch, she was just a tremendous factor on the boards ending with 11 boards and defending. Every single pass, I thought she defended well into the post. It's just Sophia was that good to make shots over our players. It's an amazing thing on the back end of that, because I don't know that we could have asked her to do much more. She had a few possessions that were a struggle for us.
Same thing with JoAnn, this should be a great learning ground for them, two freshmen lining up against one of the best ever in the Big 12. She took them to school offensively in some respects, probably more so McFarland and Hamlin than Gipson. I think Sophia made that many great plays and is that great of a player that her elevation, she got deep a lot, but those two are -- they are getting better and I hope that this is like an experience that they had against Courtney Paris.
I thought that helped prepare them for lining up against Crystal Kemp, and hopefully this experience, once again against Sophia is going to help them learn a little bit about being more aggressive offensively and in their own games and also help them defensively as we go into the postseason and have to defend any number of great posts.

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