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March 9, 2013

Sharane Campbell

Sherri Coale

Aaryn Ellenberg

Nicole Griffin



THE MODERATOR:  Congratulations on the win.
COACH COALE:  Thank you very much.  I am incredibly proud of our team.  These guys are just a bunch of believers.  They just believe.  They believe they are supposed to win.  They believe they are going to win.  They are not always sure how it's going to happen but they just play hard enough that they put themselves in a position to have a shot at it. 
They made big plays down the stretch.  Lots of poise in the final five minutes of the game.  Great energy to mount the comeback.  Just effort plays everywhere and our defense in the second half was obviously completely different than our defense in the first half.  So I'm really, really proud of them.

Q.  Seemed like about ten minutes in that second half, you guys were going to do something tonight and with Ellenberg, you were leading the charge?
NICOLE GRIFFIN:  I mean, we just made a decision.  Coach told us in the timeout before that, or many time‑outs before in the second half, that we just have to make the decision that we are going to win this game, and that's what we did.  And obviously Joanna got a lot of rebounds and I did, too.  Everybody was a part of that but we just decided that we're going to win.

Q.  Nicole and Aaryn, a couple times in the second half, you worked on that touch‑pass underneath where you got it to Aaryn, is that something you work on regularly or you just have the size advantage and you took advantage?
AARYN ELLENBERG:  It's one of the regular plays we use and it tends to work a lot so we just kind of went to that on in‑bounds and it paid off. 

Q.  Sharane, what's going through your head when you miss that first free throw?
SHARANE CAMPBELL:  A lot of things.  A lot of things.  But I have to calm myself, and I'm like, okay, I have got another ten, and I have to redeem myself right now.  I have to just believe it.  Before we left Norman, Coach gave us a mustard seed; all you need is faith the size of a mustard seed and you can make it.  I had four more tastes (ph) of the mustard seed, but just playing the pass, even though it happened a couple of seconds, just wanting to be that person to help win.

Q.  Aaryn, besides the mustard seed, where else did this belief come from, this faith, this feeling that you guys are going to overcome somehow?
AARYN ELLENBERG:  It's just a belief in each other.  We have so much confidence and love for each other, it just spews out to other people.  It's really just believing in ourselves in general and our teammates.

Q.  You've been part of some great games in the past few years, where does this rank, coming back from a 22‑point deficit to win?
COACH COALE:  I told them we had been down 27 at the half before and come back and won, and there's no reason why we couldn't.  At halftime I thought we were down 17.  I come out, we're down 19, make that first basket, and I'm like, wait a minute, geez, it was worse than I thought.
There was a time‑out early in the second half where just pounded into their belief system, they were playing in the play that just occurred instead of being in the moment that they were in, and I just tried to get their attention for what was at stake.  And their response, that ranks pretty high.  The final, I don't know, 15, 16 minutes of that game, pretty special.
I can't say it was beautiful basketball, but it was pretty gritty and pretty special, because those kids just absolutely refuse to lose.

Q.  You beat this team at home but the last time you played them in February there, almost a 20‑point win there.  How do you prepare a team from this type of game when you lost to them last time like this?
COACH COALE:  Well, obviously the first half was like the game in Morgantown.  The second half was like the game in Norman.  Their pressure can really take you out of what you want to do, and it can speed you up and that's what happened to us.
The same thing happened when we played them in Morgantown.  We came out and we scored easily with some pressure relief stuff right off the bat and suddenly we just hit a lull.
Tonight it was because we missed some open shots and then we didn't get back in defensive transition and all of a sudden it was a snowball.  We felt at halftime that there was a specific thing that we could change and that is defensive transition.
Another thing is early in the second half, at that critical time‑out, we also changed the way we were guarding ball screens which helped significantly and we were able to keep the ball in front and contain them a little deeper in the shot clock.  I think we knew what we were getting into and we knew the physical way they played.  It's one thing to know about it and prepare for it, and it's another thing to get out there and handle it.  It's hard to simulate.

Q.  The defense in the first half to second half, was that a change or more execution on your team's part in the second half?
COACH COALE:   Much better communication.  Much better communication, especially in transition.  Not as many turnovers, which cut down on the number of transition opportunities, as well.
But the ball screen coverage was really the only real adjustment until about the final six minutes when we tried to play no catch on Caldwell and Palmer.

Q.  I know you are still relishing the victory, but given the amount of energy expended, any concern about coming back tomorrow afternoon against Iowa State?
COACH COALE:  You know what, it's postseason, and I don't worry about that at all.
People have been asking us, are you worried about playing a couple of games in a row, because only eight players on scholarship‑‑ you know what in 2004, we played four games to win the Big12 Championship in Dallas, and that was not the most impressive part.  The most impressive part was every single one of those kids danced on the bus from Dallas to Norman.
So, seriously, like, they are tired?  Are you kidding me?  It's important.  They will be ready to play.

Q.  It's typical where a team facing a deficit like the one you were facing, to mount a run, extend all their energy mounting the run and then fall back.  At some point, maybe it was clear that wasn't going to happen.  How did that not happen to you?
COACH COALE:  Resolve.  They just probably said it best, believe in each other and play for one another.  Aaryn Ellenberg made two huge plays, a couple of defensive plays, made some free throws there.  Really, really just awareness, kind of special athlete, I'm going to go make a play and make sure we get over that hump, kind of plays, and that's how you do it. 
You have to have a kid that does something extraordinary, who just makes a play.  And we use that term in sports all the time.  But there's a lot of reality to it.   You have to have a kid who can go make a play.  Might be offense, might be defense, and Vegas did that.

Q.  Well, she hit the three, but tell me the plays that stick with you so I can write about it.
COACH COALE:  The inbound pass that she intercepted and got fouled on was huge.  That was the one that took us over the top.  It was a huge momentum play, too.  It was kind of the way they played right back at them and I thought it kind of changed the flavor of things.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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