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March 2, 2007

Katie Gearlds

Erin Lawless

Sharon Versyp


THE MODERATOR: Sharon, opening comments, please.
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Well, we knew that Wisconsin was really playing good basketball and this was going to be a battle for them as they continued to fight to get in postseason. I give a lot to credit to them. They were really doing a great job scoring, and our defense was okay, but they were really lighting it up and knocking down a lot of open shots.
But I am really proud of my group. We haven't gone to an overtime game so this is a great situation being able to execute, and obviously for us getting to the foul line 23 times is something that is huge for us.

Q. Katie, talk about the contributions of KiKi (Freeman) and Danielle (Campbell) tonight, especially with Lindsay (Wisdom-Hylton) being in the kind of foul trouble she was.
KATIE GEARLDS: I think KiKi and Danielle did a great job for us. I remember yelling at D one time, I said, "you're killing us, D," and she kept letting Danielle (Ward) turn over her right shoulder and that's the way she wanted to go. And at the start of overtime, D was like "I got you, I got you," and then KiKi took the ball to the basket and then D made a great strong move and finished it for us. It seemed like both of them were getting clutch rebounds for us, so hats off to them. They did a great job battling for us today.

Q. Katie, during the last sequence, Wisconsin came down the court. You're playing defense for a three-point shot obviously. Do you think that's what caused (Jolene) Anderson to have to go inside the lane?
KATIE GEARLDS: I think so. You know being up by three points, we're like just don't give up the three. We switched everything, and FahKara did a great job of bodying up on her. Once she got inside the three, we let her take it, because we liked our chances of getting the ball inbounds and knocking down two free throws. And that's what she did. And thankfully for us there was only two seconds left on the clock.

Q. Katie, there were three possessions late in regulation and one more in over time where you were trying to take time off the clock, and you were holding the ball and running the clock down and ended up not really getting a good shot. What exactly were you trying to do in those sequences and what went wrong?
KATIE GEARLDS: There were were a couple times I didn't get good shots off and I just missed. I liked my chances in that situation, just left them short a little bit. The one situation where we had a shot clock violation, that was my fault. The ball slipped out of my hands when I was going up. Other times I thought we did a great job of running down the clock and I felt like I got the looks, it just didn't go in.

Q. Katie, with this being your last run here and being back in Indianapolis and ending your career, what does this weekend mean for you and how important are these games?
KATIE GEARLDS: I think the most important thing is we're fighting to win a championship and game momentum going into the NCAA tournament. You know, it's special to play here at home. You hear a lot of people yelling "Katie, we love you, Katie," just things like that. It just brings back a lot of good memories, but hopefully we're here to make one last memory. We're going to have our hands full on Sunday no matter who we play, and we've just got to be ready to battle.

Q. This for both of you, Katie and Erin. Could you report on the two games you played with Michigan State this year?
ERIN LAWLESS: Just looking back, when we played them at their place we came out and were just aggressive and intense the whole time. I felt like we had that momentum with us at home, it diminished a little bit in the second half. But I think overall we've played some tough games against Michigan State. They've always come out ready to play against us, and it's just a matter of us being prepared mentally and physically.

Q. Katie, do you want to talk about Michigan State?
KATIE GEARLDS: Like Erin said, they're a great basketball team. I think Minnesota is going to give them a good game today, so whoever we play, we're going to have our hands full. Both teams are very different. Michigan State plays the match-up zone, and it makes it hard to penetrate when you've got a 6'9" girl standing in the post ready to block your shot and send it the other way. Been there, done that. We've just got to attack.
I think the second time we played them we didn't attack in the second half nearly as much as we could have, and that's something we're going to have to do if we do get the opportunity to play Michigan State.

Q. Erin, it looked like when Lindsay went out a couple times in the second half with foul trouble, you worked on establishing yourself down low. Did you feel you needed to do that?
ERIN LAWLESS: I think so. Lindsay has always gotten good looks down there in the post, and as a post player I feel like I have to take over, not only as a senior but as a leader for this team. I had to make sure I got out there and got it done. I mean senior year, it's a matter of winning a championship at this point.

Q. Can you talk about the job that FahKara did especially there down the stretch, really taking charge?
KATIE GEARLDS: She did a great job for team. You look at her stat line, she had an unbelievable game. Her presence on the floor and handling the ball for us for 45 minutes, you can't say enough about the kid. She took one shot and I was like, oh, my goodness, there's like eight feet behind the three, but she's got guts and that's the type of kid she is.
We've just really been blessed to have her on our team this year. When she's leading the way for us, we're doing a pretty good job.

Q. Coach, the contributions of KiKi and Danielle and the two buckets to start the overtime, how much did that relax the team a little bit and set them on their way?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Yeah, KiKi and Danielle, they needed to step up and they've stepped up all year for us, and that's why we've been as successful as we have because of our bench. Danielle needs to settle down. She's been practicing well and she can take anybody to the hole when she wants to. KiKi knew that she had to do a great job defensively in boarding, and for those two to come out in the very beginning of that overtime and score those two baskets, obviously that's a huge confidence boost for our entire team.

Q. Just to follow up on KiKi, it seemed like in the first half when you guys were sort of sluggish there for a while. When you put her in she scored a couple of jumpers and made a couple of rebounds and gave you a boost?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Yeah, I get on KiKi all the time because I think she's the fastest kid on the team and she doesn't run hard all the time, so I got after her a little bit. But her defense and her rebounding, they were key today. She had some key rebounds and key offensive boards. She was being aggressive like we expect her to be and was very consistent for us and that's what we need through this whole tournament.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about what you remember about the two games with Michigan State, please?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: When we went to Michigan State, Jodi Howell just had a tremendous game. She hit six threes, and that really just built a lot of -- six or seven, correct me. I'm not a stat person (laughter). But hit seven threes, and I think when somebody is knocking down shots like that, it just builds confidence for everybody else.
We both play a match-up zone, we both battle, we both have strengths and weaknesses. Playing there, we had that mentality of playing on the road, playing at home, giving them credit. We were ahead by 17 and we just folded and they did a great job of being able to come back and win that game.
But if it is Michigan State, again, like Katie said, it's going to be a tough opponent no matter who it is.

Q. Right after that Michigan State game, you had some close games, battled through and won. How much do you think that helped today in fighting through things?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Well, I think every practice or every game situation you learn from. If you're accumulating knowledge and you're learning lessons every game, then when that happens again, we need to make sure we do things exceptionally well. You know, we've spent a lot of time on game situations and that type of stuff, but I think that Michigan game was the turnaround for us. You know, I think we've played pretty good basketball since then.

Q. Can you just talk about the job that Erin did in stepping up with Lindsay?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Erin did great. I mean, she just exploded at senior night, our Iowa game, had great rebounding, great points, and she did the same thing at Illinois. This is the line that I expect from Erin, having ten boards and 15 points and doing her stepback jump shots and being a dominating factor and being a leader out there.
So again, like Erin and Katie, this is their last hurrah and they want to make sure they step up because they're seniors as well as they're leaders.

Q. Can you just talk about the job that FahKara did especially there in the first half when you made the run to get back into it? It seemed like she was getting a transition, probably had like six assists in a row?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: FahKara is our engine. When she runs, we run. She's exceptionally quick. She just handled the ball so well. She's that floor leader, she's the coach on the floor, and to have that with the people that are surrounding her, she's very empowered. She loves it.
You know, she's always the key. I mean, defensively, her and Lindsay have always been the key, and today was a whole team effort with Lindsay getting in foul trouble. But FahKara is the key to this team.

Q. Sharon, Purdue is the winningest team in this tournament. Your team is obviously going to the NCAA tournament, so how important is this tourney for you and how do you look at this tournament?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Well, I think at the beginning of the year we have goals that we set. To me every game is just as important as the next one. I don't look at well, we're getting in the NCAA so this doesn't mean anything. This means a lot. These young kids have worked so hard, and having a brand new coaching staff come in within a year and having our record and doing as well as we do, people think it's about X's and O's and it's not.
This group, I'm really proud of them. Our goal is to get it done every time we take the floor and that we leave the floor knowing that we gave it our all. So my mentality for this tournament might be different than other coaches'.

Q. In the opening round of the tournament for you guys, you have three key players that play over 40 minutes. How is that going to affect you for the rest of the tournament and what kind of things are you going to do to rest up in a short amount of time?
COACH SHARON VERSYP: Well, these young ladies have played this many minutes all year. For me as a coach I've got to make sure that they get rest and that I do the right things to keep them ready to go.
We played in the WNIT, we played in a Vegas tournament where you had to play back-to-back games. Those tournaments is what prepared us for this. It's tournament time; you can't be tired.

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