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March 14, 2009

Heather Ezell

Bill Fennelly

Amanda Nisleit


Baylor – 63
Iowa State - 57

PETER IRWIN: We are now joined by Iowa State, the Cyclones and Coach Bill Fennelly.
Coach, your comments about this afternoon's game.
COACH FENNELLY: First of all, I want to congratulate Baylor. It is an outstanding team. Certainly a team worthy of their ranking and certainly I think they will be a great representative of the Big 12 in the NCAA tournament.
Also want to thank everyone from the Big 12 and Oklahoma City for everything they did. It was a great event. It was fun to be part of. We got treated great. It is fun to be a part of the best conference in the country. Certainly appreciate the work everyone did to make this possible. So thank you.

Q. Heather, how does the hand feel now? What did you have to do to convince the coaches to let you play today?
HEATHER EZELL: I went around the shoot-around this morning and was able to do some things without any pain. Got the nod, and right now it is feeling fine. It didn't give me any problems during the game.

Q. Amanda, talk about the three-pointer that put you guys up four with five minutes to go. It seemed to have all the momentum in the world and then Morrow came down and hit a three right away on you. Did you feel a shift of momentum maybe right there?
AMANDA NISLEIT: I think consistently throughout the second half there was a lot of momentum changes. So, yes, I think that was definitely -- that was a good shot.

Q. Amanda, talk about the second half. You were able to knock down some threes to get a momentum going. Just talk about that.
AMANDA NISLEIT: My teammates set some really good screens and put me in really good positions. I think that was very helpful.

Q. Heather, talk about being out on the floor today.
HEATHER EZELL: It was just nice to get out there to do anything I could to help my team. Just be in on the plays is always nice. It is always hard to sit out. Just wanted to do some things for my team as much as I could.

Q. Amanda, midway through the second half, Jocelyn came in and was a presence on both ends of the court. What did she do to get you back in the game?
AMANDA NISLEIT: She had some big stops on defense and some big rebounds. Whether it is the big rebound or the block or the held possession, she did also well on the offensive end. It was a great -- it was great momentum for us.

Q. Heather, did you notice anything defensively that they sagged to after shooting 50 percent from three-point range in the first half?
HEATHER EZELL: You know, they just -- their defense -- you have to give them a lot of credit. They did a great job. They knew what to do and they knew how to guard and they definitely did everything they had to do on the defensive end to stop us.

Q. Bill, after Amanda hit that three to put you up four and Morrow came down and hit that three right away, the look on your face was kind of like -- you really sensed that was a huge possession in the game.
COACH FENNELLY: I think that probably -- you know, in a game like that, you can't pick one, but that certainly was probably the biggest one. We had some momentum. We got up four. And for some reason, we had a hard time guarding her. She is a great player.
When we made a defensive mistake, she stuck a three on us. That's what great players do. That's what great teams find a way to do. She hit the three. We came down, missed a shot. We held them and then we missed the front end of a one on one when it was 52-51 and seemed to struggle from that point on.
That was certainly -- the shift was quick at that time. To her credit, 6-8 is -- if you are out there by yourself, 6-8 is pretty dang good. We didn't guard her the right way. When we didn't, she made them.

Q. Can you talk about the coaching matchup you had against Coach Mulkey in the game and back and forth during time-outs and things and if she expressed any concern about Heather pregame.
COACH FENNELLY: As far as Heather pregame, she asked me if Heather was going to play. And as far as the matchup goes, she is in the Hall of Fame and I'm a long way from that. So it was -- it wasn't mismatch.

Q. Bill, you guys get a lot of contributions from a lot of players. Can you talk about how everybody had help getting you back in the game?
COACH FENNELLY: I thought Jocelyn and Ash did a great job. They were in the game when the game shifted. I thought they contributed. The problem we had, I debated a long time about leaving them in a little longer. They hadn't played a lot of minutes, and they were getting tired.
And certainly our seniors are the people that have gotten us here and we felt like they have rested and we can get them back in and make a couple plays. Didn't work out that way.
I thought Jocelyn and Ash did a great job. I thought Whitney Williams, even though she didn't score, defended really well, got the ball up the floor. Our bench play was good, very good. We don't ask them to do a lot as far as critical -- as far as scoring or whatever. But they took care of the ball. They defended. They rebounded. Jocelyn steps up and makes two free throws, gave our kids some enthusiasm with the things she does.
I was very pleased with the kids that came off the bench and the contributions they made in a very big game against a very good team.

Q. They made nine threes and that's more than they usually make. Did you roll the dice and cut off the passing lanes and hope they wouldn't beat you from the perimeter?
COACH FENNELLY: We were going to let -- believe it or not, Jessica Morrow was the first name on the scouting report in big black letters "no threes." Didn't work out that way.
The other kids we were kind of gapping them a little bit, make them shoot the three. We knew Jessica Morrow could shoot the three. She always seems to play well against us.
She hit her first one. So often a player -- we didn't guard her the right way and she made her first shot. You get into the flow of the game right away. She hit some big ones.
Like I said, sometimes the other person is just better. And when we made a defensive mistake and left her open, she made it. And that's why she has been a very good player there for a long time. That's why their team is in the top ten.

Q. When this tournament was here two years ago, you loved Oklahoma City. What's your opinion of it now?
COACH FENNELLY: I wish the weather was better (smiling).
No, I love it. They do a great job. The people here are amazing. It reminds me of home. The people in Iowa are the nicest people there are. They care about one another. They want to help people. It is the same thing here. Everyone from the hotel, it is cool to have a police escort, that was cool, go through traffic.
No, it couldn't have been any better. Certainly the only thing that's better we wanted to stay and keep playing. But we are going to go home tomorrow.
But the people here and the effort they put into this event and the things that they do here to allow the student-athletes to have the memories that they have should be commended because that's what this tournament is about. It is about creating an atmosphere for the fans, but certainly an atmosphere for the student-athletes to enjoy this and our players have been treated great. They have enjoyed every minute of it.
I mean, it with all sincerity, the people of Oklahoma City, I thank them for it. I love Kansas City. As far as I'm concerned if it is Kansas City and Oklahoma City every time, I vote yes.

Q. I know it is very hard to tell what the committee is going to do, but you've got three Big 12 teams in the top ten in the RPI; Oklahoma which lot of people thought would be the number one loss today. What do you think the odds will be that whoever wins tomorrow could also conceivably get a No. 1 seed if OU has kept its No. 1?
COACH FENNELLY: I don't know, Michelle. It is hard to figure the committee out. I don't know that we will have two No. 1 seeds in our league. I firmly believe Oklahoma is the No. 1 seed for what they have done, the whole body of work. That seems to be the phrase everybody loves.
But Baylor and A&M are playing at a high level. They have proven it day in and day out, game in and game out over an entire season, non-conference, conference. Both playing really well.
So I would be shocked if -- and disappointed, I guess, if Oklahoma isn't No. 1 and I think Baylor and A&M could easily be 2s. I don't know how all that S-curve stuff works and where they have to go.
They are three great teams that will represent our league in tremendous fashion. I think all three teams have a legitimate chance to play a long time in the NCAA tournament.

Q. With Heather's return, how big of an impact did she have on the game and the girls and the team today?
COACH FENNELLY: I think obviously Heather is the emotional leader of our team. I still literally -until I put her in the game, I didn't know if I should or not. She was released by the medical staff, and she wanted to play. To be honest with you, I didn't want to play her.
In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have played her, to be honest. But she is a senior and she has earned the right. I just -- we were on the elevator going up just the two of us in the hotel after shoot-around, and I said, We have been together for four years. Look me in the eye and tell me what you want to do. She said, Coach, I want to play and I can play. I said, Okay, you're going to play. She has earned that right to make that decision.
The medical staff supported it literally right up until game time. And we made the decision to let her go. But she wanted to play, and I think her teammates wanted her to play, too, which is even more important.

Q. Would you mind giving us your breakdown on these two tomorrow having faced both of them? How do you think that will go? What will be the deciding factors in that game?
COACH FENNELLY: They just played recently, so I think the familiarity is there in the last game of the season. Two teams that are dedicated to defending in a very aggressive way. Taking away what you do best, I think like a lot of these games, when it gets to the championship game format, it is who are the players you don't expect to make some plays.
Jessica Morrow got them into the championship game. I would be shocked if she can do that again tomorrow against them. Sydney Colson looked today to get excited and make some shots. A lot of times that's what happens in these games. It is someone that you don't expect that can contribute.
I think it will be a great game, a very physical game, certainly a game that I would not want to officiate. I don't envy those three people that got that call.
But other than that, I think it is going to be a very, very entertaining game. And the game will impact the NCAA seeding, as you mentioned, and will certainly be a way for our league to showcase two great programs and a lot of good individual players.
PETER IRWIN: Coach, thank you very much.

End of FastScripts

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