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March 23, 2014

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson

Megan Craig

Shereesha Richards

Sarah Royals


West Virginia – 76
Albany – 62

KATIE ABRAHAM‑HENDERSON:  Well, obviously I'm very proud of them.  I thought they competed completely until the end.  They came out fighters, and finished as fighters, and I thought they represented the America East very proudly, which I know all the coaches in the America East were very proud of us, and I know our commissioner Amy is very proud of us, so we came out and we competed and represented our team very well and the America East very well.
I think that‑‑ and I told our team this, I think that we were a 15 seed because we lost some games that we shouldn't have lost, and we should have been a 15 seed.  But talent‑wise and competitive‑wise, we weren't really a 15 seed.  It really showed out there.
I think West Virginia is a great team, but what it did for our team was prove to each and every one of them that they can play against anybody at any time, as long as you just fight and you play hard and stick to our system.  I think we did a great job.  I mean, we out‑scored them in the second half 36‑34, and that started with defense and obviously finished with offense.  It hurt having la Reese out.  It hurt not having her out there, because that's 23 points a game, but I thought everybody else stepped out and had each other's backs and did a lot of great things out there for our team, so I'm very proud of them.  I know our athletic director Lee McElroy is very proud of them and his wife, Karen, and just all the families that were there, and we're truly grateful for all the support we had when we were here.  There were some purple fans out there cheering for us from LSU, too.  I'm very proud of them, and they're wonderful, empowered young women.

Q.  Megan, you get the second foul and you have to go to the bench and you see them go on that run.  What's going through your head when you're not out on the court?
MEGAN CRAIG:  Obviously it sucks not being out there because I need to be out there for my team.  But what's going through my head is as soon as I get out there I need to just play smart, stay poised, play smart and keep my hands up because I knew if I got in foul trouble I could hurt my team.  Knowing I could be in as soon as I could, I was just waiting for that and waiting for that moment to come.

Q.  Shereesha, you were playing with foul trouble all night and even before that you couldn't get in an offensive rhythm.  What was going through your head?
SHEREESHA RICHARDS:  I just knew that I needed to play smarter, and I think I just‑‑ I'm too aggressive sometimes.  That's kind of my downfall, I think.  I'm so aggressive, I just want to make everything happen.
Being in foul trouble was bad on my part because it was kind of selfish for my teammates because I know they needed me out there.  But at the same time it's already done.  All I had to do was go out wherever I'm in and do whatever I could.

Q.  You look across the stat box and free‑throw shooting tonight (inaudible) how much do you think that affected the ballgame, not being able to hit free throws to stop that run?
SHEREESHA RICHARDS:  Free throws tonight, man, our free throws just wouldn't fall tonight, and we worked on it.  We did free throw, free throw, and we know that that's where it was going to be, at the free‑throw line, but we just couldn't make it.  We just couldn't make our free throws tonight.
SARAH ROYALS:  We didn't step up and make the shots.  I mean, me too, myself included.  But West Virginia is a very aggressive team, and we knew they were going to foul a lot.  All we did all week was work on free throws, and sometimes when the moment comes, got to knock it down, and we didn't, but yes, I think if we had made all our free throws we could have won the game, and we missed almost 50 percent of them.  So making those definitely would have had a big impact.

Q.  What was the message in the huddles when you went down by so much in the first half and at halftime?  What was the message?  Was it come out and keep fighting the second half?
MEGAN CRAIG:  Obviously it was just to stay poised.  We didn't play our game and stay in control and not let anything affect us.  Especially coming out at halftime the score was 0‑0 for us.  We had to stay poised, stay in control for the pressure that was going to be coming our way, but we knew we had to be in control of ourselves.  We were trying to take the correct shots, play the great defense that we could and just play the game that we could pull off.

Q.  Sarah and Shereesha, how much different was it when Megan was on the bench defensively there?
SARAH ROYALS:  When Megan is not in the game it makes a world of difference, even for scouting.  Not many people can simulate the presence that Megan has.  You can pretend that, well, I can shoot over her or anything, but the reality is when you're in the paint and you see someone that's 6'9", you're trying to pass it out.  I think we did a great job on No.20.  She is their leading scorer, and we held her to three points, and that's due in part a lot to Megan.  Everyone second‑guesses themselves every time they go in the point, and with her in the paint that's how Reese and Imani and Tammy, that's how they go and get those steals because they know that Megan has their back.  If they get beat, then Megan is there to clean it up and get the rebound, and when she's not in there we are much smaller.  We're very aggressive, we are still great rebounders, but we are a lot smaller, and I think that changes the mentality of the offense playing against us.

Q.  When they went on that long run did you consider putting Megan back in earlier?
KATIE ABRAHAM‑HENDERSON:  Yeah, I mean, it's a Catch 22 because I put Shereesha back in and she got her third foul and she was diving for loose balls.  Obviously if coaches knew the magic answer, then we'd be millionaires and everybody would want to do this.
But yeah, I mean, I go back and forth.  You go back and forth.  I thought Tammy really stepped up.  Tammy is a 3 guard, she's 6 foot and she's playing the 4 and she's getting rebounds.  What did she have, nine rebounds for us, so she really stepped up.  It's just you just never know how the game is going to go.  Shereesha is super aggressive, but she's right, that is her downfall, which is a great downfall, but I knew once I put Megan back in, he's a great coach, he's going to go at her and try to get her in foul trouble.  I put Reese back in, she got a foul, and I put Megan back in.  Obviously they're the anchor of our team, so a lot of games that we struggled they were out there on the floor, so we've really had to teach them to try to not be so aggressive and play straight up and try to‑‑ Megan is more moving your feet correctly and getting in the right spots.  Reese is just like calm down, calm down, because she wants to win the game in five minutes.  But I thought we adjusted well.  They weren't even out there and we were pressing great.  It was great watching our guards up there just pressing and getting steals.  It makes the game exciting to watch like that.

Q.  You get it to 56‑51, seven minutes left, but then they get it back to double digits and it was basically almost done after that.  How much of it was just so much energy to get to that point?  Was the team out of energy or was it something that you saw or was it just all the energy getting it to that point?
KATIE ABRAHAM‑HENDERSON:  Shereesha was on the bench, so the score was different.  But we were up and they were breaking it a little bit, you know what I mean, but all of our plays we were having to go to Megan or to Sarah.  Most of our plays go to Reese, that's our No.1 option, and then it goes to Megan and then it goes to Sarah.  And so obviously down the stretch you saw I was trying to get Sarah and Megan the ball as much as we could.  You know, it was tough having her out of there, but she's just super aggressive, and I thought that our team did a great job, and their team did a great job.  Their go‑to player had 26 points and their second go‑to player had 20.  So they did a great job offensively.

Q.  Did you feel anything in particular was working well for you in the second half when you were coming back, anything that you were doing to them that was affecting them?
KATIE ABRAHAM‑HENDERSON:  Our press.  I didn't really think that we could press them like that to be honest, but we were in a dog fight.  We had to do something different.  We had to change the momentum of the game.  We had to get up and press them a little bit more.  And obviously some of their players played for 34, 35 minutes.  Obviously their bench is a little bit deeper than ours, but I was proud that we could get up and press like that.  I actually told my assistant coach, ha ha, I told you we could do that, but she was like, I don't know if we're going to do that.  But I thought we could get up and press them a little bit.  A lot of you haven't seen us play a lot, but that's kind of our mojo.  That's kind of what we do.  We get up and we put a lot of pressure because we really need to keep Megan out of foul trouble.  A lot of people try to go at her, so we try to play up and press and it's a lot of fun.  Our players like it.  They get a lot of energy.  Gosh, Megs and Margarita and Sarah played 40 minutes of that, so they're tough.  That's tough to do against a Big 12 team.  I'm so proud of them.  And Tammy played 40 minutes.  40 minutes of pressing like that is way different than sitting back and just playing zone defense or sitting back and playing man.  We were up pressing for 20 minutes the second half, 20 minutes straight.  They didn't fit, they were playing as hard as they could, they were diving for loose balls.  I told them I wanted even more purple on the floor, get those loose balls.  That's what we did in halftime, I said get after it.  We have nothing to lose, so let's go for it.

Q.  Last year you lost by five, right, to North Carolina?

Q.  Do you feel after this game that you are closer maybe to breaking through and getting the win even though the point differential was a little bit more?  Especially with the experience that you guys have now, like you said, you have a lot of returning players next year.
KATIE ABRAHAM‑HENDERSON:  I feel like it's exactly the same to be honest, like our free throws, again, and we were shooting free throws and free throws and free throws.  I said, maybe we shouldn't shoot this many free throws this week.  You've got to make 10 in a row before you leave, you've got to make 10 in a row.  I think it's kind of the same.  It was a lot of the same, but we were going into‑‑ we went into the post.  Last year we could shoot some threes a little bit more with Lindsey Lowrie and Ebony and Julie, but I thought we could run our sets a little bit more this year.  Last year it wasn't easy to run our sets against North Carolina, so we learned from that.  It had nothing to do with West Virginia.  I think they did great, but we were able to run our normal sets this year, where last year it wasn't as good.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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