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March 4, 2007

Melanie Balcomb

Dee Davis

Carla Thomas


THE MODERATOR: Joined by Vanderbilt head coach Melanie Balcomb and players Dee Davis and Carla Thomas.
Coach, if you would make an opening statement.
COACH BALCOMB: I know it wasn't as pretty as our first two games. I think what's important is we showed we can play any tempo. I know it was their tempo, their low score. And we battled. We battled down the stretch. I was really proud of our defensive effort, and defense wins championships. I think that's what happened tonight.

Q. Did the three-point shooting get you to the championship?
COACH BALCOMB: [] yeah, it got us there, but they took away our threes (laughter). They took away our high-low. We did get the ball inside, but not as much. They did a good job on us inside. We scored in spurts. But they forget about Dee Davis. She stepped up. She penetrated. She got fouled. She hit pull-ups and a big three. It's like pick your poison. I'm just so proud how it can be somebody different every night. I thought Dee really stepped up and put us in key spots for us tonight.

Q. Can you describe the play where you cut by Fowles with about a minute to go in the game at mid-court and then you had the breakaway? What happened on that play?
DEE DAVIS: I honestly didn't see her at first. It was a press breaker play that we have. I was hoping that Carla was going to throw the ball because I knew I was going to get down there. She reached for the ball and I was able to move it out of the way and get down the court.

Q. What does it say about the strength of the SEC to have a No. 3 and No. 4 seed in the finals?
COACH BALCOMB: I think it says a lot about this conference. I thought it was deep from top to bottom this year. I thought there were a lot of great games in the tournament. I think hopefully we'll get six teams in at least, if not more. I just think night in and night out you can't rest. You've always got to be ready.

Q. Coach, you played LSU recently. Did you make any adjustments or changes between last and this game?
COACH BALCOMB: No, we didn't make a lot of adjustments. You have less than 24 hours to come back, rebound after your last game. There's not a lot of prep time. What was nice is we knew them, but at the same time they knew us.
I didn't think the game plan -- their game plan wasn't going to change a lot and our game plan. It was going to be who executed the game plan better and down the stretch who wanted it more. It comes down to such a mental toughness game in games like this. I just thought we gutted it out.

Q. Dee, at what point did you realize how important you were going to be in this game? Was it early on, coming into the game? Was it when you guys started missing some three-points?
DEE DAVIS: For sure, when we started missing a few outside shots, I knew that I had to step it up. Coach said, Do what you do. If you can't get all the way to the basket because Sylvia is down there, you got to pull up. It was a championship game and I knew I had a lot of heart coming into this game. I knew senior night, we played with a lot of heart. I knew it was a championship game. Felt like the same motivation going in.
I knew we had a freshman SEC championship under our belt and we wanted to leave out with one.

Q. Melanie, Sylvia had a dominant game against Tennessee last night. What were the keys on cutting down on both her rebounds and points tonight?
COACH BALCOMB: The thing, we play team defense. We talked a lot about where we want to double her from and how we want to force her up as high as possible so that we could recover back out. If she got us too deep, it's too late to double. She'll just jump up over you and score.
We wanted to force her to try to make a post move, force her out high, come and double from the closest person, and then recover back out.
It's the same game plan we had when we played them at home. We thought we executed it well again.

Q. Carla, it looked like stopping Sylvia you were going to run out of fouls early. Talk about how you managed your fouls after the first half.
CARLA THOMAS: It was frustrating at first to come out and get those early fouls. But I think Liz stepped up amazingly well. She was banging in there with Fowles. She made her work hard for every basket she got. So I think with that rotation we had, we could go to the bench when we need to.

Q. Carla, your coach is talking about keeping fouls from setting up too low near the basket. But that's easier said than done because she gets low and gets position so often. What did you do against her? What were you conscious of doing against her?
CARLA THOMAS: Coach just talked about moving our feet, just trying to get around as much as possible. Can't really move her off the block. You just have to sort of use her momentum against her. So when she's trying to cut somewhere, you make her cut where she doesn't want to. It's not really a matter of doing anything special. Just keep moving your feet, trying to keep her from getting somewhere where she doesn't want to be.

Q. Dee, coach touched on it a little bit. You've flown a little under the radar the first couple games of this tournament. How meaningful for you is it as a senior to have a huge game in the championship, get a championship on your way out the door?
DEE DAVIS: It was overdue, especially how I played last night. I didn't even play 20 minutes. I knew I needed to be on the floor with my teammates. Being a senior you need to be a leader, make smarter decisions on the floor. I just made it a point to tonight come out and do everything that the team needed.

Q. Melanie, what kind of NCAA seed do you think you're looking at now? 2 or 3?
COACH BALCOMB: Yeah, you know, I try so hard not to read the projected things because, again, so much of it is just pure opinion and projection. There's so much that goes into it. You never know what the selection committee is thinking.
My opinion is very biased, but I think we deserve a 2 seed. I know when we ran the tables when they were freshmen, that's what we got was a 2 seed. I didn't think we made any mistakes.
We scheduled -- I know last night we had the ninth-best schedule in the country. We scheduled higher. We made no mistakes. We have no bad losses. We have a couple real good wins now. We're playing our best basketball down the stretch. I hope they take all those things into consideration.
If they do, I think we're going to get a 2 seed - a 3 at the lowest. To be honest with you, I'd be disappointed with a 3.

Q. Carla, you talked a lot coming into this tournament about how meaningful it would be to be able to win an SEC championship your senior year after winning it your freshman year. Put into words what it means to have accomplished what you set out to do.
CARLA THOMAS: Wow, that's hard to do. I would say it's sweet. It's bittersweet, but it's a great feeling. You know you're going out, you know you're finishing up, but you went out the right way. I guess that's how I'd put it.

Q. Coach, seemed like keeping them off the offensive glass was an important key today. Talk about that if you would.
COACH BALCOMB: Yeah, I talked a lot about on TV that we held them to 28% field goal percentage, which is awesome. It's amazing. Then to hold them in the last six minutes without a basket is playing great defense down the stretch.
I ended up saying the key was checking it out. We knew we were doing a good job on their first shot, but they didn't get second or third shots. I thought we did an awesome job just going after the basketball and wanting it. I just really am proud of how bad they wanted this game and how they gutted it out. That's just effort. Their skills. They showed a lot of heart.
I didn't even worry about it. I knew they would. If there was a loose ball, we were on it. We've been that way all the way down the stretch in all these games. It's so nice to coach a team that I don't have to coach effort, because you can't coach effort.

Q. Could you put into words as a coach how meaningful it is to you to watch them be able to win this championship on their way out?
COACH BALCOMB: It's awesome. That's why I coach, to see them be happy, accomplish this. They've been through a lot and they've worked really hard for it. I'm so happy for them.

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