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March 7, 2014

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke

Ariya Crook

Cassie Harberts


USC テや 59
ASU テや57

THE MODERATOR:テつ Welcome, and congratulations to USC.テつ We have Coach Cooper, Ariya Crook, and Cassie Harberts.テつ Coach, an opening statement?
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ Well, congratulations to these women.テつ We played well enough to win again.テつ I thought we played extremely well.テつ We played great defense.テつ Although we didn't end that defensive possession always with the rebound, I thought we held a very good and dynamic team to 57 points, and I thought that was a great defensive effort.テつ Knocked down some big shots and got some crucial rebounds.テつ We're proud to be going to the semifinals.

Q.テつ Cynthia, you guys seemed to be doing things in spurts in terms of wins and losses.テつ You've won four in a row.テつ Do you feel you guys are building momentum that you can sustain now?
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ I think we have momentum that we have sustained.テつ When you go through a season with a new coaching staff, we're getting to know our players, our players are getting to know us.テつ You're going to have some bumps in the road and you're going to have a season of ups and downs.テつ I thought we've had more ups than downs.
I think right now at this point of the year we're right where we want to be and we're playing the type of basketball that we need to play.テつ The thing that I love about this team is they're doing what we need in order for us to be successful.テつ So we've won four straight.テつ We're looking forward to our next opponent, and we know that that's Stanford.テつ They're a very, very strong team, and we're going to have to play our best in order to win against them.テつ We're building our case.テつ We're looking for a Pac‑12 championship, and then we're looking for an NCAA bid.テつ So we're trying to put ourselves in the perfect position to get that.

Q.テつ Coach, Crook and Barrett were both saddled with fouls in the first half.テつ How much impact did they make in the second half?テつ You guys weathered it pretty well with that run at the end of the first.
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ I thought it was important to allow both Crook and Brianna to play in the second half worry‑free.テつ I almost got yelled at by Ariya because she wanted to go back in the game in the first half, and that's just how intense she is and how motivating she is, but I really thought it was better that we allowed them to play in that second half free throw with only two fouls.
So I thought it was big for our team to step up and make that run at the end of the first half to tie that score up and really give us a chance in the second half.テつ It was crucial.テつ It was crucial that they were able to go out in the second half and play strong defense and not worry about necessarily worry about fouls.

Q.テつ Cassie, can you articulate how it feels different to be playing the way you guys are playing at this point to maybe your past couple of years?
CASSIE HARBERTS:テつ Right.テつ I think we've kind of struggled this year with finishing games, but it's definitely something we've been working on.テつ Last year we only played one half of basketball.テつ Just having a different mentality and more attacking mentality, more aggressive, and just giving your all all 40 minutes of the game.

Q.テつ You have 20 wins now.テつ You mentioned one of the things you're playing for is an NCAA bid.テつ How do you feel about your resume now?
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ Before this game I thought our resume was pretty strong.テつ Playing in the Pac‑12 is equally as tough as playing in the ACC or SEC, Big 12 included.テつ We have some really strong teams in the Pac‑12.テつ So I really feel like this win has added to that resume and built a case for us.
If we don't win the Pac‑12 championship, then we at least are in a position to get an at‑large bid.テつ So I think we've done all that we can do.
Like I said, we've had some bumps in the road, but even in games we've been a little inconsistent, but we've always stepped up to the plate.テつ We stepped up to the challenge again tonight.テつ I thought this team, they were amazing.テつ When we had foul trouble in the first half, we stepped up.テつ When we weren't rebounding extremely well, Alexis went and got two strong rebounds.
When we were 1 for 11 in the first half from three‑point territory, we knocked down three big three‑pointers and shot 61%, 62% in the second half, 51% from the two‑point territory.テつ So we stepped up in the second half when we needed to, and we got the stops we needed to get, and we knocked down the shots we needed to.
So I think we've proven that we're a competitor that deserves to have that second, that postseason, that dance that everyone talks about.

Q.テつ You've talked about the culture you've wanted to implement in this program.テつ It seems the way the game was won with those two threes by Crook and Kiki and Kate hitting two big shots in succession, is that a by product?テつ Do you see that kind of coming to fruition in a game like this?
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ I don't know that we've necessarily built a culture and at least consistently have that culture.テつ We're still a work in progress.テつ I have to give the credit to the players.テつ I have to give the credit to Crook.テつ We joked about the rainbow three‑point shot, and then to Kate who is coming off the bench and really giving us a spark both from the two‑point territory as well as her knocking down her first three.テつ We see that in practice all the time.テつ But it was the first time you got a chance to see it.テつ Then Jaco, Jaco is really getting her feet set, Courtney Jaco is knocking down the big three‑pointer.テつ It's really a testament to how hard they've worked all season long and what we've seen in practice.テつ Now it's finally being expressed out on the court in a consistent manner.

Q.テつ Ariya, how difficult was it for you to only play four minutes in that first half?テつ What was going through your mind?
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ She was going to strangle me.
ARIYA CROOK:テつ It was difficult.テつ I looked at Coach when we were down by nine points.テつ I was like, Coach, put me in.テつ We have nothing to lose.テつ She was like, no.
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ How did I do it again?
ARIYA CROOK:テつ I'll never do it again.テつ It was difficult to watch my teammates going through a little shooting slump.テつ My teammates didn't give up on me.テつ They told me, pick it up, Crook, be ready.テつ You're going to go into the game.テつ The second half is your half.テつ So, it was about my teammates, at that point.テつ So I just played for my teammates and the second half was ours.

Q.テつ You said against Arizona your team seemed to come out a little flat, maybe some jitters in the first round.テつ Do you see this getting some momentum and building toward the semis?
COACH COOPER‑DYKE:テつ Well, I will tell you that we came out flat in the first half again.テつ I just think it's new territory for us to come out with that level of confidence and culture that we're still trying to develop.テつ But I will say the second half we came out on fire, like we came out on a mission.テつ We were out to prove something, and we did it.テつ We proved it.テつ We proved it to ourselves first, and then everyone in the Pac‑12 Network, everyone got a chance to see it, because we came out for one of the first times, and we were on a mission.テつ We played great defense.テつ We got into player's faces.テつ We rebounded the ball early on, and then we were able to get out on our fast break and attack the basket.
When ASU went to man‑to‑man, it was almost like a light went on in our mind, and we just started attacking and getting to the rim, which allowed us to then get to the free‑throw line.テつ So there are some great moments in that second half that we can build on.テつ We can build upon.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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