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March 8, 2008

Melanie Balcomb

Jennifer Risper

Christina Wirth


THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening comment.
COACH BALCOMB: Well, I was really proud of our effort. I thought we came out really strong, and they had been starting games unbelievably. I think we did a great job being ready to play. Defensively I couldn't ask for a better effort. Offensively, you know, we really struggled. They really picked up their defense and their denial and took things away from our offense. I think that really we had a lot of opportunities that we didn't take advantage of, and eventually they started offensive rebounding, which they do so well.
But really, I think we've played them harder each time we've played them this year, and like I said, I'm proud of how much we've improved as a team.

Q. As Melanie mentioned, getting better each time, is that a little tough when you've had the losses to come back and try and find the improvement, and obviously you started much better tonight? Do you think you're getting there? And how much do you think you've improved over these games?
CHRISTINA WIRTH: I definitely don't think it's hard to come back. I think that every time we play them we're excited about the opportunity that we have, and I think tonight we came out fired up. Like you said, when we played them at home they came out and jumped on us early so tonight we had a focus on really attacking them, you know and just going for it. We had nothing to lose. They're a higher seed, higher ranking if that means anything, so we just came out. Yeah, we're getting better all year long, so any time we have an opportunity like this to test us, we're excited about it.

Q. Tina, can you talk about the struggles you've had in the last two games offensively? Are they putting some special defenses on you, or what's going on there?
CHRISTINA WIRTH: I mean, I think teams know that I'm a shooter so I think that they're starting to do a better job than early in the season. I had wide open looks pretty much every game, and now I don't get those wide open looks as much. I did get those looks, so did Merideth Marsh and our other shooters, we just didn't knock them down. I thought gen did awesome this entire tournament. We just need to find a way to hit those shots. Yeah, they had good defensive pressures, but shooters have to keep shooting, and that's what we're going to do.

Q. You had 15 rebounds yesterday, nine rebounds today. What's your secret?
JENNIFER RISPER: I don't know. I just want to get it. We do a lot of drills in practice where we're fighting hard and just competing a lot, so I think it's just carrying over into the game.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, players. For Coach?

Q. Can you talk about the tempo of the game, especially in the second half?
COACH BALCOMB: What about the tempo?

Q. It seemed like there were a lot of long possessions on both ends of the court, and was that by design or was that because of the defense of both of the teams?
COACH BALCOMB: Well, the score was 26 to 20 in the second half, so I think both teams were playing very hard defence. We've played each other three times. We know each other very well. It's like an NCAA game. Both teams are very prepared, they're both very successful, and you're going to see great defensive efforts and people being taken away from things. And it's going to be hard to get shots, so you're not going to be able to make one pass and score. It's not going to be easy. So that slowed the tempo down more.
Yes, obviously they're very, very good in transition, and that was one of our goals was to slow them down and to stop them -- we held them to 26 points in the second half, and this is a team that scores 80 and 90 a night, so I think that was definitely a big part of our game plan and was successful.

Q. You talked last time you guys played about the height differential, the speed and the athleticism. Does it come down to that again tonight?
COACH BALCOMB: Personally I don't think it did. I think they hit shots and we didn't. Who would have thought we'd shoot 2 for 17 from three and had open looks from especially Tina Wirth and Merideth Marsh who are two of the best three-point shooters in the country, that they generally make. They shot the ball really well from three, especially in the first half. We did a better job getting out on their shooters in the second half.
I don't think it's so much height and athleticism, but they do have one of the best players in the country, and that changes your team defensively. Candace Parker changes a game. You've got to play her a certain way and try to take away her without giving too much to everybody else. So that makes it even more difficult.
But the fact that we held them to 63 points, I don't think that happens to them a lot. I think that that's something that's going to give us an opportunity to make a run in the NCAAs, and in the postseason that's where we want to be defensively. Offensively we didn't make the shots. We had them but we did not make them.

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