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March 7, 2014

Alaina Coates

Elem Ibiam

Dawn Staley


South Carolina – 67
Georgia – 48

THE MODERATOR:  We'll get started with an opening comment from South Carolina head coach and each of the student‑athletes.
COACH STALEY:  I thought we came out ready to play, especially on both sides of the ball.  Very efficient from the offensive standpoint.  Definitely, I thought our players played with a lot of energy.  I thought they were committed to making sure we chased hard off of screens and contested each shot that Georgia shot.
I just thought we played good basketball.  Of course, there are things we'd like to clean up, you know, like offensive rebounding, the free‑throw line.  But a win is a win in our league.
ELEM IBIAM:  I think we just came out ready to play.  We had a couple days off to kind of talk to each other, kind of get prepared mentally.  That's what we did.
I also think, you know, we played them not too long ago, so they were still kind of fresh in our minds.  That played a big part of us coming into the game.
ALAINA COATES:  We were able to really execute our plays.  Everything didn't obviously go our way, but we were able to do what we needed to do.  We prepared the right way and were able to come out and do what we do.
THE MODERATOR:  We'll take questions.

Q.  (No microphone.)
COACH STALEY:  I think with our bigs, they have done a tremendous job all season long being very efficient from an offensive standpoint.  I will bring up the Tennessee game where I don't think we were as efficient as we had been all season long, so it was great to see them get back on track and do the things that got us here.
They're able to give those kinds of contributions, I think we can be very successful.

Q.  Last few games the bench has been good.  Good again today.  Talk about that.
COACH STALEY:  We're constantly talking to our bench about being able to perform in a setting like playing in an SEC tournament.  I think the bench is key.  We were talking to some players that we felt like could give us an advantage.
Of course, Alaina always comes off the bench and gives us a lift.  I was happy to see Tina Roy come off and give us a spark.  If we can get her going, again, we can be very, very successful because she can probably shoot it better than anybody on our team.  If she gets hot, it only stretches the defense out and allows us to pound that ball inside.

Q.  I know the last three games down the stretch not as efficient offensively as you'd like.  How nice was it to see your bigs inside today play as well as they did, as well as the outside game, too?
COACH STALEY:  I thought it was really key.  They know they're going to get the ball.  I just thought they just played with a renewed energy coming off the Tennessee loss.  It was great to get back to playing efficient basketball.
I thought our perimeter players played a little bit fast today, had a lot of energy.  But it was good to pound that ball and allow our post players to go to work and let everybody exhale a little bit to get their nerves right.

Q.  Normally you see a pretty bad free‑throw shooting percentage, Tiffany not doing well from the field.  You still win by 19.  How do you address those weaknesses from today?
COACH STALEY:  I think you have to address it by just saying it.  I don't want to go back down the road we were down last year where we were just horrible from a free‑throw shooting standpoint.  We've been pretty good the last couple of games out.
It's a new gym.  We only got a chance to shoot here for a little bit yesterday.  Just got to get used to the tight rims of the gym.

Q.  Talk about getting out to the quick start.
COACH STALEY:  I think that can work two ways.  You can come in too relaxed because you haven't played a competition like you normally do on a Thursday night, or you can shoot us out of a cannon.  I thought we got shot out of a cannon.  Played a little bit too fast.  You got to let the game settle down.
For us, I'd rather coach our team from being too energized than not.

Q.  You came out at halftime and put the game away quickly.  Was that a message to the team at halftime?
COACH STALEY:  I think we know what kind of team Georgia is.  They're incredibly streaky.  We didn't want them to get on a roll.  Once they get on a roll, they're pretty hard to guard.  We just wanted to jump out on them the first five minutes of the game and see if we could put it away, get some other players in the game, hopefully plan to win the semifinals game tomorrow.

Q.  For the players, the guards seemed to have a rough day to start, but you were on from the start.  After the Tennessee game, how important was it for you to come out and have that big start today?
ELEM IBIAM:  I think that was very important for us to just establish ourselves early in the paint.  Whenever we're not on our guards, they're there for us.  For us to be there for our guards, be a cushion, bring some confidence out to the perimeter.  It was a good feeling.  I think that's what happened today.
ALAINA COATES:  Kind of piggyback off of what El said, it's a confidence booster when your bigs have your back.

Q.  Elem, this is a different experience for South Carolina coming in as the team with the target on its back.  What did the coaches tell you about maintaining your focus, being in that different position?
ELEM IBIAM:  Our coaches always tell us not to get too high or too low.  That keeps us balanced and focused on the next team, at the task at hand.  We know any night it's any team's battle.  Just have to go out and fight.

Q.  Coming off a loss in the last regular‑season game, how did you use that as motivation to get back on track?
ELEM IBIAM:  We were just kind of telling each other, our teammates, to stay focused, don't let this get us too down.  We have to go into the tournament confident but knowing that we can be beat any night.
I think it pretty much humbled us coming into this tournament and going into post‑season play.

Q.  Alaina, the confidence has been there for you all season long.  Now that you have gotten that first post‑season win, what does this do for your confidence going forward?
ALAINA COATES:  This is another confidence booster.  We really wanted to come out with another championship.  It's a huge honor for our school, I'm sure it's never been done before, we're trying to make history.  That's what the goal is.

Q.  Coach, can you talk a little bit about the luxury of being able to get your starters out of there, some rest?
COACH STALEY:  It was a huge luxury.  But I think our starters put us in a position to open the game up, along with Alaina and Tina Roy, who were very efficient, gave us a boost from an offensive standpoint.
When you're trying to win a tournament, it's very taxing from a physical and mental standpoint.  Anytime that you can rest your starters, rest the people that play significant minutes, I think it's huge.
We didn't want them to get too much rest because we want them to stay in the flow of what's going on.  That's why we played them throughout the second half.  But a huge luxury.  Hopefully it will pay big dividends tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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