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March 2, 2012

Chantel Poston

Brittany Rayburn

Sharon Versyp


Purdue – 73
Michigan State – 64

THE MODERATOR:  We're joined by Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp and student‑athletes Brittany Rayburn and Chantel Poston.
Coach, an opening statement.
COACH VERSYP:  We were just excited to get on the basketball court.  It was a long time.  We were the last game.  And we knew we'd get out and have a little bit of jitters.  And I think we did.
But we got over it.  And I thought that we played exceptionally hard.  We played very well.  I thought our defense was very good in the second half, holding them to 34percent.
But Michigan State is an extremely tough team.  Probably will go and do some great things in the NCAA tournament, and we have a lot of respect for them.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions for the student‑athletes.

Q.  Chantel, how much did this performance from Brittany remind you of one that you had seen earlier this season?
CHANTEL POSTON:  Brittany's a special player.  And she kind of got down, but we always‑‑ mid‑seasonkind of going through some things, and we just always tell her to keep shooting, the next one, the next one, the next one.
She's that type of player that's willing to do anything for her team, take a charge, knock down a shot.  She's a gamer.  She's a gamer.  Gotta love it.

Q.  Brittany, since we're older and out of touch, is that called feeling it or what do you call that?
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  Yes.  I would say something like that.  It's called great trains and passes from your teammates.  It's easy to knock down open shots when your teammates are getting you open.

Q.  Could you describe what it's like during that whole process for you?
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  You know, honestly it's a rhythm that you get in with the team.  And taking charge is the same way, getting rebounds the same way.  Anything you have to do to get your team to victory is what you're going to do.  And I think the biggest thing is going out and having fun.

Q.  How disheartening do you think it is for an opponent when you've got someone that just is draining everything, especially from the outside?
CHANTEL POSTON:  I know how disheartening it is for us to be on the opposite side, it's very draining, very draining.
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  I'd say the same thing.  It's hard to do when people are‑‑ you can't get around anything and the shot just keeps going in.  And they're playing great defense at times, and it's just‑‑ like you said, it's a rhythm.

Q.  Brittany, was this a little bit of a flashback to Minnesota?
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  I mean, I don't know.  I can't compare it to that game.  I mean, it was mid‑season, completely different thing, playing in Big Ten Tournament is huge.  Any game you can lose, you're done, and I think the biggest thing was just the will to win tonight.

Q.  Obviously you did great things in the first 24 to 30minutes, but can you talk about Chantel's two 3‑point plays there when you guys needed to get over that hump a little bit and how big those plays were?
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  It's huge.  Especially coming off boards for her.  I mean, she's doing a great job on the offensive boards and defensive boards and getting them at big times for us.  We knew she'd be able to power it in down low because she's got the ridiculous ups, but to be able to finish through contact is something that she's really done well this season, and it really gave our team a good boost.

Q.  Chantel, can you talk about it was a very physical game, seemed like you guys got a lot of the 50/50 balls, a lot of the offensive rebounds.  Could you talk about what that did for your team when the offense was a little stagnant in the second half?
CHANTEL POSTON:  Anytime you struggle in offense you need the 50/50 balls, and it's something that coach stresses all the time.  She drills it in practice and constantly telling us we have to get those hustle points.  We have to get those 50/50 balls because it can make a difference in whether you win or whether you lose.

Q.  Brittany, did you block out it could have been your last game on Hoosier soil as far as college game?  Do you block that stuff out about the finality of it being a senior, or do you think about that?
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  You do and you don't.  Going into the game, you know, that's definitely the thing.  But like I said, just going into a game like this, you will just have to have the will to win and play to win and not to lose.  And I think our team did a great job tonight showing maturity, just fought through everything tonight.  And definitely it comes to your mind at the beginning, but when you're in the heat of the moment you just want to win.

Q.  If you could both talk about the matchup tomorrow, and just what you expect, only played them once, so not as much familiarity, but just what you're expecting?
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  I think as familiarity goes, we've played them recently, which is a good thing.  Especially since you don't have a whole week to prepare or anything like that.  So it's good to know scouting report quickly.
Our coaches will get us prepared very quickly tonight, or tomorrow morning, actually, because it's already tomorrow.  But they'll get us prepared.
CHANTEL POSTON:  At this point in the season like Brittany said, it's about the will to win.  Doing the little things.  Obviously we're going to go over personnel and go over the scouting report and the coaches will have us well prepared.  But at this point it's just playing hard, having heart and having fun, I think, is huge.

Q.  What do you think is the biggest difference between the last time you guys played Michigan State losing by 15 and today with how well you were able to play from start to finish?
BRITTANY RAYBURN:  I think losing in overtime at their place was a heartbreaker for us.  The toughest game to lose is the one that's close that you have in your grasp.  I think it definitely was still with us, a reminder the last time we played them we didn't come out on top.  And I think that's definitely a huge boost going into that game.
CHANTEL POSTON:  I'd have to agree.  Also being we've been in this position before.  We love playing here.  It's kind of‑‑ it's our home away from home.  I think that helped us there at the end, just closing out the game, just knowing we've been here before, we know how to do this.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you.  Questions for Coach.

Q.  Coach, what are you thinking when she hits a couple and seems to be getting on a roll, are you thinking, okay, hope this keeps up, or what's going through your mind?
COACH VERSYP:  Oh, definitely.  I just started calling plays every time for her.  She had the ball in her hand quite a bit and she had a great shot coming off the dribble, so I just did a lot of high on ball screens and she kept nailing them.  And then certain other people were setting great screens for her.
You've got to ride somebody as long as you possibly can in games like this because you just don't know what's going to happen.  And she felt it.  Her teammates gave her a lot of energy.  And the crowd gave her a lot of energy.
So I think everybody did a very good job allowing her to be successful.

Q.  With Michigan State being on a real roll, what was the key for you guys in really slowing them, especially Porsché Poole who had been really carrying them?
COACH VERSYP:  I think the biggest thing is our defense.  Our guards really had to step up and play some great defense.  We switched a lot of screens.  We used some taller athletes on their guards.  So we kind of switched 1 through 4.
And we tried to keep our 5s on Lykendra Johnson.  That helped us.  And for us being able to run early and knocking down shots early, I think that's a big key for us.  If we can defend and knock down our first couple of shots, then we feel pretty good.

Q.  Can you just talk about the development of Chantel?  Mid‑Big Ten season she was playing single‑digit minutes off the bench and here she is hitting layups and 3‑point plays that are critical down the stretch?
COACH VERSYP:  I think with every player the light switch goes on different times.  She's been in the gym doing a lot of extra, watching a lot of film.  And I think just like anybody, she's just very confident right now.
We can instill that, but they have to feel it.  And I think her teammates empower her, we all empower her, and I think when that comes, give her the ball and she's going to go to work.
And we'll real proud of her growth and what she's done for everybody.

Q.  Chantel, those two 3‑point plays when you really needed to keep that distance, just how active she was today, especially in a very, very physical game inside there.
COACH VERSYP:  Well, it really helps she can jump as high as she can so she can maneuver her body around people.  So that's still amazing to me, her athleticism.  But she knows that she needs to rebound.  She knows she needs to attack the glass.
She's done a much better job shooting her free throws, but she's doing what her responsibilities are and her role is, and I think she's doing it well and she really takes it to heart and she just wants to help this team win.

Q.  Coach, just noticing that all four semifinalists are ranked in the top 25, how good is this conference?  How many teams do you think should get into the NCAA tournament?
COACH VERSYP:  I think this conference is one of the best in the country now.  And I believe seven should get in.  And that would be the first time, I think, ever.
So Michigan totally deserves it.  Iowa, Michigan State, definitely with their RPIs and the strength of schedule.  We should get seven in.

Q.  Michigan State had that 13‑0 run early in the first half and then I believe Johnson picked up her second foul.  What changed with her offensively on the bench and what were you able to do with her not being down low?
COACH VERSYP:  I think Brittany kind of got on a run that was huge.  That was the key.  But also I felt like we attacked down low a little bit better when she was out of the game.
So I thought Chelsea scored and attacked the basket when she got it down low, made two field goals, and then we just started attacking the rim.
She changes the game because she's a shot blocker.  So when she's out, you know, we did what we were supposed to do.

Q.  Michigan State, you just played about 12days ago.  Penn State's going to be about 15days ago.  Just the freshness of the opponents that you're going to face, how much is that going to help prepare this team for semifinals?
COACH VERSYP:  I think it helps.  I think they still have‑‑ like our players said, they still remember those games.  And we weren't at our best.  So now we have another opportunity.
So we need to be at our best to play them, and we'll see what tomorrow brings.

Q.  How demoralizing do you think it can be when a player is really rolling like that?  And did you see any signs that that was wearing on Michigan State, the way that Brittany Rayburn was draining 3s?
COACH VERSYP:  I think just in athletics in general, when you have someone just performing at a real high level and knocking down shots, or in any sport, it can be draining, but they kept fighting back.
They're well coached.  Their seniors on that team, they kept fighting back.  We were ahead by 18 and it could have went to 20 or 22, but it didn't.  It got down to about 11.  And then it was around 11 or 9 for a while.
So, you know, you just gotta keep playing the way you're capable of playing and you can't worry about what the other team is doing.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Coach.

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