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March 9, 2014

Geno Auriemma

Bria Hartley

Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis

Breanna Stewart


UConn - 83
Rutgers - 57

THE MODERATOR: Quick statement, Coach, and then we will have questions.
COACH AURIEMMA:  I thought the way we started the game was about exactly like you want the games to start.  I thought we came out aggressive, and, you know, we got out in transition, we move the ball great, and we got everybody involved.  It wasn't just one player.  But that entire first 20 minutes was probably the kind of basketball that‑‑ as good of basketball as I could hope for, especially in the postseason.

Q.  Geno, you obviously would like to see that all the time and there has been games this year when it's been a slower start.  Did you see something in the locker room or the pregame shoot‑around that they were pumped up for this?
COACH AURIEMMA:  This team doesn't really give you a lot of signs of what they're going to be like.  They're pretty much the same.
We were the same at the beginning of the game in the locker room as we were at halftime in the locker room.  And we were the same yesterday in the locker room at the beginning of the game.
So they're really‑‑ they're pretty much right here, level, they don't get too high, they don't get too low.  I wish we could start out like this every game, but sometimes the other team has something to do with it.  Today, I don't think there is anything Rutgers could do about it.

Q.  Geno, Moriah, a couple of early three's.  Can you talk about the difference that makes?
COACH AURIEMMA:  When you make shots early on, it looks like you're off to a great start.  And generally speaking when teams start the game against us, they've got a game plan that they're going to guard certain people a certain way, and I don't think they go into the game saying we gotta making sure Moriah Jefferson doesn't make any three's.  I think most times they're okay with her shooting those, and when those are going in and we are finding Kaleena in transition, and those three's then tend to pile up, and I've said a lot this season if Moriah Jefferson is a really, really consistent 3‑point shooter, then we become ‑‑ as good as we are now, we become that much better when she is shooting the ball like that.

Q.  Geno, can you talk about Kaleena and everything she has been through, because she was part of that "hot stuff" that you talked about today, as well, going 3 for 4 early.  Is she back to where you expected her to be?
COACH AURIEMMA:  No, from where she was as a freshman and where she was last year to where she is today, from what I can see, from watching her every day, I would say on a scale of 1‑10, it's like 5.  It just hasn't been right since November, and you add up all the stuff and it's‑‑ there isn't that consistency that there used to be, and little by little I hope it comes back.  Hopefully between tomorrow and whatever in the amount of games we have in the tournament.  No, we haven't seen anything like it this year at all since November.

Q.  Breanna, the score is 30‑9 and they were running down the floor with a likely layup and you chased her down and blocked the shot.  Tell us what your thought process was there.  Does anybody on this team ever feel like it's okay to take a possession off in a situation like that?
BREANNA STEWART:  I honestly didn't think I was going to get it.  I thought I was too far away but she slowed up a little bit and I was able to get there and make the block and I think that, you know, most of the time we're hustling back because usually once someone turns it over and we lose the ball we want to make up for it.

Q.  Geno, I know Rutgers doesn't normally take a lot of three's, but they didn't even attempt one today.  What is the last time you've seen that?
COACH AURIEMMA:  Wow, I don't know.  I don't know.  That's a good question.  I don't remember a game off the top of my head where someone did not attempt even one three.  I guess if you know you're not going to make 'em, why shoot 'em?

Q.  Bria, can you talk about how important it was for your team to get off to that hot start, 13‑0 before three minutes expired and what it says about your team when you do that?
BRIA HARTLEY:  I think it was really important.  We talked about yesterday that we want to have a better start than we did yesterday.  When we're goin' like that and we're playing well we know we can go on really big runs at a time and when we're playing like that it's fun, we all had a great time out there and we all enjoyed it so I think we want to keep playing like that the rest of the way.

Q.  Kaleena, can you talk about your play and how you feel after the mono and do you think you're getting your shot and your game back?
KALEENA MOSQUEDA‑LEWIS:  I haven't been on a consistent path all season, whether I'm hurt or sick or I'm hurt again.  So, you know, I took pride in the consistency that I had last year and I just haven't really found the rhythm yet, so just trying to keep it up and do everything I can for my teammates while I'm out there whether it's rebounding or playing defense.

Q.  Geno, your thoughts on playing in the inaugural finals of the AAC Tournament?
COACH AURIEMMA:  We talk about this periodically.  You don't really get caught up in the name of things, because that, as we saw, can change.  If it's a preseason tournament at home, if it's a Thanksgiving tournament on the road, if it's a conference tournament.  We have traditionally done pretty well in tournaments.
I think it's appropriate, I think, that we're in the finals.  I was hoping we would be.  I wanted us to be.  You know, we had to prove over the first five months that we're the best team in the league.  We should be playing tomorrow night.  There are two really good teams playing tonight and whoever we play, it will be a first as you said.  It will be the first one and hopefully it's the first of many.

Q.  What if you play Louisville again?
COACH AURIEMMA:  If we play Louisville again?  It's never easy to play someone two times in the span of a week.  There is a lot of things that they do that we struggle with and there is a lot of stuff that we do that they struggle with.  Tomorrow night, the significance of tomorrow night as far as the NCAA Tournament is concerned is probably huge for Louisville because everybody is talking about them be a No. 2 seed at home.  I know because there are so many more good teams deserving of a No. 1 seed than they are, so the significance tomorrow night is huge.  Not only to win a conference championship but if they win tomorrow night then they probably are definitely a No. 1 seed, so it should be a great atmosphere.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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