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March 6, 2009

Melanie Balcomb

Jennifer Risper

Christina Wirth


Vanderbilt – 69
Georgia - 61

THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Vanderbilt, who was a 69-61 winner over Georgia. They advance to tomorrow night's game against the winner of Mississippi State and LSU.
We're joined by head coach Melanie Balcomb, along with Jennifer Risper and Christina Wirth. Christina Wirth had 23 points and 7 rebounds. Jennifer had 11 points and 7 rebounds. This is the 14th time Christina Wirth has led her team in scoring. Coach?
COACH BALCOMB: I feel really good about our effort tonight, and I felt really good about the way we came out ready to play. They cut me off and started running out the door, which is always a good sign because I like to talk.
I didn't have to motivate 'em, they were ready to play. They came out, ran out, and I thought that was huge. The lead we got, and then the rest of the game there were times we started playing not to lose, and then they turned it right back up where they needed to be.
I thought we made great adjustments. As the game went on, they were extremely coachable and loved the intensity for forty minutes.

Q. Coach, did you realize that your team set an SEC tournament record for the fewest turnovers in a game?
COACH BALCOMB: No, but, hey! We were a little excited about our assist to turnover ratio in the locker room, but we did not know it was a record. Thank you, Carol.

Q. Can you talk about the high level of play that you guys showed the entire game? For anybody.
CHRISTINA WIRTH: Like Coach said, we came out firing on all cylinders, making stops. We came ready to play today. Obviously Georgia is a great team and it wasn't an easy game, but we're having to learn to play a different lineup without Hannah. And people are playing hard because what Hannah brought was rebounding and hustle and all those things.
So I think we're having to raise the level of our game because we want to make up for her because she is a great player and teammate. I was proud of our efforts. As Coach said, we played hard.

Q. Jennifer, your thoughts?
JENNIFER RISPER: I guess I agree with Coach and Tina, I was like, what?
CHRISTINA WIRTH: She is really smart --
JENNIFER RISPER: I am. It's hard to play a team three times in a row in a season. You kinda get used to the players you're playing against, but I think we knew the personnel and who we were playing and who we had to stop.
We had a hard time stopping Angel, obviously she did an awesome job at 29 points, but like Tina said, we stuck together, played hard, pretty positive today.

Q. Coach, can you talk about the defensive plan you had for Ashley Houts? Looked like you fronted her a lot, kept the ball out of her hands. She didn't score until two minutes left in the game.
COACH BALCOMB: I think Ashley is a tremendous player. I think she brings so much to that team. One of the things she does is runs the show. She controls the tempo, controls how they run the thing.
I know from working on offense with our team a lot, you want to be in a flow. So what we wanted to do was not just take out Ashley Houts, we knew we couldn't guard the size inside, we had to take them out of their flow. And if you disrupt Ashley Houts, then you disrupt Georgia. That was really what the goal was and the plan was.

Q. Coach, you got outrebounded, but it looks like you got to a lot of key loose balls and the rebounds were deceptive.
COACH BALCOMB: I looked at that and I was surprised. I thought we outrebounded them and we didn't. We wanted hustle plays and when you got -- you have to decide how you look at things.
If you want to be taken -- you want to be the victim and say, oh, they're big and they're going to jump over us, or you want to be quicker and get underneath and keep your feet moving, they can be an advantage.
Right now that's our advantage, we're going to run around and hustle and we made some huge hustle plays. Especially, I remember one play in the second half where Tina and Ris got a hustle play and kicked to Meredith and she got a wide-open three. They made a few of those plays.
We know each other so well, sometimes those are the best times to get these 3-point shots, and that gave us looks we wouldn't have had in the offense.

Q. Players, Coach mentioned in the opening statement that you were playing not to lose in the second half. You had the lead the entire second half, a couple times they got within 1. Did you step up in intensity when they got within 1? Both times you came back with a basket the next possession. Did you sense that and raise your level of play?
CHRISTINA WIRTH: I definitely think we raised the level of our intensity. Coach told us not to have that mentality, play to lose. Right away we came down, and like Coach said, we dished to Meredith and she hit a big shot and we came down and got another stop, so we definitely raised our level of intensity in the last minute.
JENNIFER RISPER: I think that -- we got back to what got us here in the first place, and that was attacking. When they started attacking, we started getting passive and passing up things or settling for outside shots.
We didn't pen -- we, in the first half, penetrated well and we got those good shots, and we have had in situations like this, and it's always a learning experience. So when we are in situations like this, we use that experience. And I think it's like you said, when they did come back, we just came back.

Q. Coach, without Hannah in the lineup, how have things changed and are there different players with different responsibilities now, or are you trying to keep doing the things you were doing?
COACH BALCOMB: The biggest change is Jen is now the smallest post player in the country now, permanently. What is needed -- when Hannah went out, we worked on a small guard lineup where we could work with a small guard lineup and take the dribble and go inside out, because we didn't have the height to begin with, and Hannah was an undersized post player.
Now the difference is we have the same look and we need to get better at that second look. I think we've worked really hard on it. I can't thank enough players, we have Ashley Bridge working in the post all, kinds of players doing different things for the team.
Tia Gibbs has stepped up a great deal. Now that Jen Risper goes into the post, now you need a guard to step up and give us good minutes.
Tia jumps in there and fills that spot. And when a door closes on a player that you don't want to close on them, that door opens up for another player. And we have people willing to go in there and do everything we need them to do and being unselfish about doing it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies.

End of FastScripts

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