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ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT


March 16, 2013


Stephanie Gaitley

Erin Rooney

Marah Strickland


BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

ST. JOSEPH’S  - 47
FORDHAM - 46


COACH GAITLEY:¬† First of all, I want to congratulate St. Joe's.¬† It was a hard‑fought game, two very good teams battling.¬† It's a hard one for anybody to lose, but again, breaks go a certain way at the end.
So again, credit to St. Joe's and for their kids.  They have had an outstanding season.

Q.  What did you see on the last play with Cloud for the foul?
ERIN ROONEY:  I mean, I saw her posting up.  Not to sound bad, but I didn't see a foul at all.  So I mean, we are all pretty shocked and disappointed, and we just tried to stay focused on finishing the game strong.  But it was a tough call.

Q.  Erin, what broke down on the final possession?
ERIN ROONEY:¬† Was that one where she was pressing up‑‑

Q.¬† The final possession, the final play, off the basket ‑‑ went off the baseline.¬† What broke down?
COACH GAITLEY:¬† We were looking to isolate Erin and then because we switched, you we saw the guard was covering Sam.¬† That's when she looked inside.¬† So we were going to take ‑‑ if Erin was switched on by a big, we were going to attack; if they switched and we had Sam, and we could go inside.

Q.  Marah, on a night when you're struggling shooting, is there any doubt or hesitation to keep going at it and keep putting up shots?
MARAH STRICKLAND:  I think in a game like this, it was a tough game, so you can't have any hesitation.  You just have to go out there and let it fly no matter what.  Coach is really confident about us taking our shots, so just trying to stay focused on defense and just continue to take the shots that I need to take.

Q.  Erin, the last time you guys played St. Joe's, you missed a couple free throws late that led to them getting into overtime; were those free throws in your head at all when you missed one of your two?
ERIN ROONEY:  Obviously after that game I needed to work on my free throws and I have been practicing and so I went up to the line fully confident that I was going to hit them.  I didn't.

Q.  We talked a couple weeks ago about the turnaround in the program; just what it means to be one possession away from making the NCAA Tournament.  Just put the season in perspective, 24 wins and just how exciting this year has been so far.
MARAH STRICKLAND:¬† I mean, I just have to say how proud I am of this team and how hard we have been working since day one‑‑ and just how proud I am of the girls coming out ‑‑ to be able to do what we did, the girls worked so hard to turn around Fordham women's basketball, so really proud.

Q.  What did you see on the final possession?  Did you think that the foul was warranted?
COACH GAITLEY:  These are tough situations, especially when you're a veteran coach, because I've never lost a game in this situation.  I always believe that the kids should determine the outcome and that's what's so disappointing; let the kids determine the outcome.
Again, I'd have to look at the call again.¬† The frustrating thing for me is I had been arguing at the other end doing the same thing.¬† So for it to go against you on the last play for a championship and a chance to go to the NCAA tournament ‑‑ it was hard to say, because I haven't seen the film.¬† But the look was for Erin to attack, and I think when Erin recognized they switched, she went inside to Sam.¬† So, tough time, you have to bite your tongue and suck it up.

Q.  This team has been as resilient a team all year what do you tell the girls after that resiliency just isn't enough at the end?
COACH GAITLEY:  Just that you are so proud of them.  As you saw Marah and Erin, just such a wonderful young ladies and I think they are great representatives of Fordham.
We are fortunate, Fordham is extremely committed to being successful.  It's just got great administration, starting with Father McShane on down, and I know that we have taken a huge step and we are a team to be reckoned with and here we are on national TV playing for a championship.
You know, I think this group of kids, right now is hurts too much for them to recognize what they have done.  I think in a month or so, they will be able to reflect back and see the accomplishments because we kind of are just in the moment so to speak for the last couple months and we just try not to look ahead and as we refer to, win the day as people, win the day as students, and win the day as players.

Q.  Would you comment on the Barclays Center as a venue for the final.
COACH GAITLEY:¬† I also want to thank the Atlantic 10.¬† I thought it was a first‑class event.¬† I thought the crowds on both sides were terrific.¬† I thought that was a great statement of women's basketball for Barclays.
I think everybody was nervous on what the turnout was going to be or what the venue was going to be because it's so big and such a beautiful, beautiful facility.¬† But again, the Atlantic 10 did a terrific job putting on a first‑class event, and I think it was a hard‑fought game and I think we represented Atlantic 10 basketball very well.

Q.¬† You started off on a 12‑0 run, did you think the team became complacent?¬† And what changed in the second half where St. Joe's went on that 12‑0 run to duplicate yours?
COACH GAITLEY:¬† Both teams were a little tight.¬† A lot of games that happens‑‑ whether it was 12‑0, we knew it was going to be a game of run.¬† The last time we played them we were up by nine at the half and we knew by means the game was not over.¬† They were shooting 20percent in the field, and that obviously got reversed in the second half; we shot 28 percent and they shot 52 percent.
So I don't think it was complacency as much as, you know, I think St. Joe's was a little tight.  I thought they didn't knuckle down.

Q.  Can you talk about the play of Natasha Cloud?  Last time you had a hard time handling Van Grinsven; this time around, you handled her pretty well.  Cloud seemed to jump out early in the second half.
COACH GAITLEY:  Give all the credit to them.  Different nights, different people step up and that's kind of been the story for our team.
I thought if we were going to have somebody beat us, we wanted to make sure we were going to dictate who was going to get those shots.  I think St. Joe's capitalizes; the one time we gave a little breathing room to Erin Shields, she knocked down that big three.  So there was a couple turnaround points that I'm sure if we had it back, we would run the play a little differently.
Ace had no idea it was her fifth foul, and a lot is just having an awareness, but because they play so hard, and you know, you can't blame her for that.  It's a tough situation and it's just been a terrific group and you could point to a bunch of different plays that kind of game to the end of that.

Q.  When they finally took the lead and got up four, what was the atmosphere in the huddle amongst you guys being down for the first time all game?
COACH GAITLEY:  Calm.  It's a game of runs.  We talk about that all the time.  We work on special situations every day.  So you know, it was a very calm time and like, all right, they make our run, we make our run.  We know it's a game of runs.  We know the game wasn't over when we were up 12 and we knew the game wasn't over when we were down four.  Abigail hit some big threes to keep us in a situation where we could have pulled it out at the end, but as we said all along, the one operative word is resilience.  It's a very resilient group, and it's hard, as I'm sure you all know, you have all been in athletics, to walk away from a championship game and lose the game by one.  It's hard to sit here and talk about it, but it is what it is, and hats off to St. Joe's and we'll do our best to play some really good basketball from here on out. 

Q.  This season so far what it meant to the program and turning it around, Fordham to being a winning program?
COACH GAITLEY:  I think once I get away from it all, to really reflect and see where we are with it, because to be honest, I have tried not to reflect on it because then I think you kind of stop living in the moment.
Once I have time to reflect on it, I think it will hit me first what we were able to accomplish.  Then, you know, you can't do it without having support.  We have great support with our administration.  And we just have a great product in Fordham.  It's an easy sell.  And I often wondered when I was head coach at St. Joe's why Fordham didn't win.
And having now be there and being part of Fordham, I realize it has all the pieces to be successful.  It just is matter as any coach will tell you of getting players, and getting the three additions we had along with last year's players, it was great chemistry and very unselfish group and a we before me attitude and I think that's what carried us through.

Q.¬† Do you think this team earned an at‑large bid?
COACH GAITLEY:  It's a tough thing.  Obviously, you know, when we made our early season schedule, we made it not knowing Marah was going to be eligible.  So we made it thinking, trying to build, because you have to learn how to win first, and Fordham had not won.
So when the mind‑set was made, it was made in the sense of, all right, let's get some wins and learn how to win.¬† You know, we have learned obviously lots from this.¬† St. Joe's did a great job with their schedule.¬† I don't think they had any bad losses and they had some great wins.
I think we are one of the best teams left because of the way we are playing right now.  You know, so I think we have a strong case.  But you know, it's a difficult situation.

Q.  Obviously when it comes down to the end like that, it doesn't matter if you're playing St. Joe's or UCONN; what's it like to face St. Joe's with stakes like this?
COACH GAITLEY:  I mean, we spent the whole season facing the name on the jersey.  It was a blank jersey for us.  Everybody stood between us and what our goal was.
So when we went into that last game we knew it was a hard‑fought game the last time we played St. Joe's, so we looked at it as a blank jersey and looked at somebody standing between us and going to the NCAA Tournament.
It's obviously emotionally tough, because I had coached there; four of the people on the staff there, I coached.¬† So it was tough.¬† But they are a well‑coached team, a very well‑rounded team and a very strong program and you know, I had a lot of great experiences there.
So I mean, it's bittersweet, obviously, because it was for a championship, but that's what happens when you play the game.

Q.  St. Joe's shot 52 percent in the second half after shooting just 20 in the first.  Is that as simple as their shots starting to drop?
COACH GAITLEY:¬† I think it was shots starting to drop because they started off pretty cold.¬† It was a matter of their shots started to drop and any time we had any type of little let‑up they capitalized on it.¬† When you keep a team in the 40s, you have done a really good job defensively.¬† Offensively we got out of rhythm a little bit and got down to the shot clock too much but again we didn't shoot particularly well in the second half.¬† But on different nights, different people step up and unfortunately we fell two points short.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports




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