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March 30, 2014

Lexie Brown

Brenda Frese

Laurin Mincy

Alyssa Thomas


Maryland – 73
Tennessee – 62

BRENDA FRESE:  You know, this game was everything we thought it was going to be, just a phenomenal game by both teams.  You know, it was intense, obviously we felt like it was going to come down to the rebounding and being able to own the glass.  Going into this game obviously we knew it was going to be a game of runs and we had to maintain our confidence.  Obviously have the utmost respect for Holly and her staff, and obviously the tradition that Tennessee has, that's where we all want to be.  But I'm really proud of the fact that our kids played for Maryland and played with a lot of confidence, were never intimidated and really played for each other.  I thought you saw us really get after it defensively, dominated, being aggressive on the boards and really being able to get out in transition.  We want to continue to be under the radar, make sure nobody writes about us, talks about us, but really proud of our team and what we were able to accomplish today.

Q.  Alyssa, can you talk about just your mindset tonight?  Obviously you had a decent game against Texas, but tonight you looked to be very aggressive, and can you talk about Laurin, she hit some big shots today and came in and did well off the bench.
ALYSSA THOMAS:  Just came out and went for my opportunity and just attacked to the rim.  And Mincy, this is the Mincy that we know, it's crunch time, the lights are on and she's playing her best basketball.

Q.  Alyssa, their coach said that they didn't have an answer for you tonight and she thought you could do whatever you wanted to.  Did you feel like you were able to impose your will?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  We knew we could get to the rim on them, and that was my mentality, just get to the rim and just try to get easy shots.

Q.  Laurin, you guys came out from the very outset and looked really confident and aggressive.  Was there something in their scouting report or the preparation that made you guys feel so at ease and so confident against a favored team?
LAURIN MINCY:  I think the coaches just did a good job of preparing us for Tennessee.  We thought that we had to beat them on the boards to win this game, so we focused on that for the last two days.

Q.  Lexie, Alyssa has the ability to score whenever she wants, but she also kicked it out to you guys for threes at times.  Talk about her passing ability, too.
LEXIE BROWN:  I mean, it's incredible.  She draws so much attention to herself when she's on on offense, so for her to be able to just be unselfish and dish it out to us, it's our job to knock those shots down, and it makes her job easy, too, because then they won't be able to send so many people at her.

Q.  Lexie, the team really in the regular season against teams of the top tier had regular‑season losses against Notre Dame, UConn, Duke in particular, but how does it feel to get a win against a top team on a big stage at this time of year?
LEXIE BROWN:  It feels great.  I think it was great that we got to play those three teams before we got to the tournament.  I mean, we have a lot to prove in this tournament, and to get a big win over Tennessee is just giving us a lot more momentum going into our next game.

Q.  Laurin, after you went on your run to pull out in front, you never let them go.  What was the key to stopping them and making sure they couldn't get possessions where they scored consecutively?
LAURIN MINCY:  We just wanted to focus on making them take tough shots.  Meighan Simmons gets it going so we wanted to make sure we contested all her shots and box out.  Like I said, that was the key for this game, and obviously we won the battle on the boards.

Q.  Alyssa, do you feel a little bit fresher this season, whether that's mental or physical, not having to play quite as many minutes as you did last season?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  I just feel like this year we have so much more‑‑ last year we didn't really have any subs, and now this year we can send so many waves at them, it makes it so much easier.

Q.  Laurin, you've been through some things obviously in your career at Maryland with knee injuries, but you looked very good, very explosive.  Can you talk about how you're feeling right now?
LAURIN MINCY:  I'm feeling really good.  I had time to refocus a couple weeks ago, just staying confident throughout the season and being patient.  I think patience has got me where I am right now.

Q.  Alyssa, Tennessee is usually known as a top‑tiered defensive team.  What did you guys see on the offensive end that you knew you could get to the hoop and score on them down low?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  Well, we knew we could get out on them in transition and just get easy baskets, and then once we got ball reversals we were able to attack the rim and get easy lay‑ups.

Q.  You've talked about getting to the rim in terms of the offensive side of the game, but you also effectively shut down a Tennessee post that cumulatively has a significant height advantage on you.  What was your defensive strategy and how were you so successful in shutting them down?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  Our post players did a phenomenal job of just limiting them, getting them in foul trouble really early and just trying to keep them off the boards from getting second opportunities.

Q.  Laurin, is there something about this time of year that brings out the best in you?  A couple years ago against A&M you had 21 points.
LAURIN MINCY:  I think I just like the big stage.  I mean, it's crunch time.  I want to send my seniors out well, so I want to play as hard as I can for them.

Q.  Alyssa, did they do anything to you defensively that you hadn't seen for a while or maybe even seen this year?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  No, it's just the typical face guard trying to make it difficult to get catches.

Q.  Can you talk about your defensive game plan?  It seemed like you were really able to clog the lanes and take away penetration.  Was that the mindset going into today's game, because it seemed like your height on the perimeter seemed to shut down them wanting to penetrate.
BRENDA FRESE:  Yeah, I thought when we came out in the first half, we were really locked in, being able to kind of keep them in front against the dribble drives, did a phenomenal job and Theresa being able to get that spread.  I thought the second half they did a much better job getting to the rim, really getting to the free‑throw line.  They shot a ton of free throws.  I thought they were a lot more aggressive in the second half.

Q.  Tennessee suffered from turnovers earlier in the season, they averaged about 16 turnovers a game.  Obviously you forced 22 turnovers against them today.  It seemed like every other time driving the lane you were swiping the ball away.  Was that something you guys wanted to do in the beginning of the game or is it something that you guys pointed out in preparation for this game?
BRENDA FRESE:  It was a stat I came across when I kind of compared our conference stats and our cumulative.  When you watch them on film you see their dangerous deal is they get to live‑ball turnovers.  I looked at our stats and we actually had more steals than they did.  I really felt like we could be getting that message to our team to be able to understand how aggressive we could be.
That was important in terms of being able to get steals and being able to cause turnovers.

Q.  Tennessee in winning the SEC Tournament had to go against three big, strong, physical teams, beat them all.  What made you think that you could beat Tennessee and its very strength, inside and at both ends of the floor?
BRENDA FRESE:  When you watch what we've grown into, obviously we have a ton of depth this season, and it's taken us a while to be able to kind of‑‑ for everyone to understand how critical their role was.  But when you look at our bigs, you want to know the difference?  Alicia DeVaughn, you look at defensively what she was able to do in her rebounding, then you add Brionna, you add Malina, AT sometimes going down there playing the 4 for us.  Just the fact that I felt like even with all the foul trouble that happened in this game, we were able to withstand that.  Fortunately for us we had a lot of depth because there were a lot of fouls called in this game, so we were fortunate to be able to have that kind of depth.

Q.  You've seen so many great performances from Alyssa.  Where would you rank this one, and also particularly the zero turnovers?
BRENDA FRESE:  I think the most special thing about Alyssa, when you talk about everything that's been written and everything that we've seen, is just her ability to, obviously, the higher the stakes, she elevates her game, and I think the thing that separates her is her ability to elevate everybody else on our team around her.  They raise to her level.  She was huge.  I mean, and then when you talk about the unselfishness, she was having fun being able to penetrate to be able to get really nice kicks for her teammates.

Q.  Laurin mentioned needing to have patience this season as she got back into her rhythm.  What kind of patience did you need to have with her and she found herself again?
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, I think it was more for Laurin to trust and be patient.  This is very similar to when Laurin came in with a knee injury.  We knew it was going to take her time, for her body to be able to respond.  But I think what you see, what's so special about Laurin is her competitiveness.  She wants to be on the floor.  She wants to make plays.  Really being able to see‑‑ I saw in her the last two to three weeks, just the bounce come back, her step, and obviously you see how she's playing.

Q.  Can you talk about apparently your pregame speech to your team, you talked about ignoring Tennessee.  How much of that is that tradition and trying to get your team to not focus on that and to play their game, and then secondly, how big a win is this for the ACC over the SEC Tournament champ?
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, I think first and foremost, obviously we all want to be where Tennessee is.  We have the utmost respect for what they have and their tradition and what they've been able to create.  Obviously that's where we all want to be.
I think more of my pregame speech was the talk of like, hey, nobody is picking us, taking the pressure off of us, and really playing so we can make sure that everybody knows who we are in this tournament.  Just the mindset.  I mean, that is a hurdle obviously when teams go out to play is sometimes you kind of overthink the game, and I think we wanted to make sure our team was just as confident as we could possibly be.
For the ACC, you know, nobody goes into these games thinking about conferences, obviously with the shifts that are taking place, but we do feel like our conference has prepared us for postseason.  When you get to have the battles that we've had all year with Notre Dame and Duke and Carolina and the depth of our conference, we feel like it's prepared us for this time, so we're really proud.

Q.  Sometimes coaches will take a look at the box score at halftime and get a glance at the numbers.  Were you shocked to see the margin of your lead compared to your field‑goal percentage in the first half?  I think you shot 37 percent in the first half but still led by about 14.
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, yeah.  But I thought our defense and our rebounding was keeping us in it.  If we could tighten some things up, I really felt like we needed to be able to get to the free‑throw line more to be able to kind of help.  I mean, sometimes these are games that you have to grind out, which you saw with the different possessions that took place.  But again, just trying to put it all together.

Q.  All season long the SEC has touted itself as the best conference in the country.  The selection committee kind of followed that in its seeding.  Do you think maybe the SEC was a little overrated and the ACC maybe underrated?
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, I think the selection committee has a really tough job, and I think this season when you look at it, there's really two teams that have separated themselves in this field, obviously with UConn and Notre Dame being undefeated.  I think they had a really difficult job.  I think they based it on how you played in your tournament, and rightly so.  Tennessee did a great job going out and winning the SEC Tournament, three games in three days.  Obviously for us we didn't perform well in that tournament.
You know, I think they have a really difficult job, and I think the biggest thing is to come into the tournament that it's the clean slate and just come out and play the best basketball you can to be able to advance and move on.

Q.  What were you able to do defensively to prevent them from going on those runs to get them back within a few possessions?
BRENDA FRESE:  We talked about a lot in the second half the dribble drives that were taking place.  We went a few possessions of zone and we also just talked about being able to get better help‑side defense to be able to withstand the runs that they were making.  Just some simple adjustments.

Q.  Alyssa said that you all felt like you could get some easy baskets in transition.  Is that an advantage you've had all season over teams with your quickness, or is that something you specifically saw coming into this game against Tennessee you felt like you could take advantage of?
BRENDA FRESE:  You know, our transition is a big piece of who we are, and then when you talk about having Alyssa Thomas lead your break, it's like having LeBron come down the center of the court.  We feel like there's a great advantage between Alyssa and Lexie in how our team runs.  But we did feel like we wanted to be true to who we are and that we could take advantage of their transition D by putting them into a track meet.  We felt like we had more depth in this game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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