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April 6, 2014

Lexie Brown

Brenda Frese

Alyssa Thomas


Notre Dame – 87
Maryland - 61

THE MODERATOR:  Joining us from Maryland, head coach Brenda Frese and student‑athletes Lexie Brown and Alyssa Thomas.
We'll start with an opening statement from Coach Frese and then go to the student‑athletes.
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  Obviously the better team won tonight.  And I thought Notre Dame just did a terrific job, really took advantage, especially I thought they set the tone from the first possession with the offensive rebounding, being dominant on the glass.
Obviously we really struggled to be able to have an answer for Loyd and McBride.  And they showed their experience, I thought, throughout this game.
But like I told the kids in the locker room, you know, we're one of the last four teams to be able to play.  When this tournament started, nobody counted on us being able to make it to the Final Four, and really when the season ends, only one team gets to end with a win.
So couldn't be more proud of the ride that this team took us on to be able to go to the Final Four.  And anything and everything that Alyssa has meant to our team and our program and to be able to bring her to the Final Four was a dream come true.
Obviously we're sad because we wanted to continue on playing for her, but you couldn't coach a better person with everything that she's meant to our team and our program.
THE MODERATOR:  Thanks, Coach.  Questions for the student‑athletes now.

Q.  Alyssa, your thoughts on playing your final game.  I know it's not the outcome you wanted, but you accomplished so much in your career up to this point.
ALYSSA THOMAS:  Sad to see it's the last game, it ended like that.  I can't be disappointed.  We made it to a Final Four, and I had so much fun this year.  I know we'll get started from this game and we'll be better next year.

Q.  Alyssa, what did they do differently in this game to defend you that they didn't do in that first game that gave you trouble early?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  I think early foul trouble hindered me a lot.  But nothing‑‑ they didn't do anything that they didn't do in the first game.

Q.  Lexie, your thoughts to be able to play with Alyssa and with all she's meant to the program?  You've been a point guard most of the year.  How has that been?
LEXIE BROWN:  She made my job really easy playing with a player like Alyssa.  I've never had a teammate who could do it all.  And it's been an incredible season.  I'm going to miss her so much.  She's one of the most dependable teammates I've ever played with, and I'm just sad that we couldn't win our championship.  But how far she brought us has been amazing.

Q.  Alyssa, the rebounding coming in was a big factor and they were a monster on the floor, just they were being aggressive.  What was the difference out there with the rebounding factor?
ALYSSA THOMAS:  They just wanted it more.  They beat us at our own game and we just never seemed to get on the boards.

Q.  Lexie, when you were facing a 22‑point deficit, you guys were able to come back.  You guys were facing a similar situation tonight.  What's the difference between that game and this game that hindered you from getting back in this game?
LEXIE BROWN:  Like Alyssa said, they just wanted it more.  They clearly remembered what we did to them last time.  So they weren't going to take us lightly the second half.  I mean, we were our second half team, and they knew that.
They just played harder than us.
THE MODERATOR:  Continue now with questions for Coach.

Q.  If you went into the game and knew that you would be outrebounded by the margin it was, I mean, shock, what's the thought on what happens on that end?
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  You know, it's something that we talked about at length even with our team.  That was something when we played them back in '09, they set the tone from the beginning with their rebounding.
So disappointed, obviously, in terms of our lack of response to it.

Q.  Can you talk about Brionna Jones's performance tonight.  She had a great game.
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  She was huge.  I thought she was really poised and she didn't play like a freshman.  She played like she's been to the Final Four.  Gave us a tremendous inside post presence.

Q.  Can you talk about what they might have done differently defensively on Alyssa?
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  I thought they were key really in terms of every time she got by a line of help there was another layer.  So they were constantly sending waves of people.  When she would get through one, there would be another one there waiting for her.

Q.  Brenda, did Alyssa's foul trouble impede not only her minutes but do you think it impeded her style of play and her aggressiveness a little bit as well?
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  Yeah, you know when that happened to Alyssa, at times she has to pull back because she knows she wants to be on the floor.  So definitely it was difficult.
But I thought that the chess match going on from rotations on their end and our end we were never able quite able to make that difference.  When they went small, we weren't able to make that small from the rebounding end.

Q.  Brenda, what makes Kayla McBride such a difficult matchup?
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  Her IQ.  Obviously she can score the basketball.  Her ability‑‑ she gets a clean look; it's going in.  But in game, watching her attack our guards, every time she knew when A.T. had two fouls and she went right at A.T., when another guard got two fouls she went right at that guard.
So just watching her in‑game IQ.  I probably didn't appreciate it as much as I saw it in games in terms of she's got a high level in terms of understanding the game.

Q.  Brenda, you mentioned this team has Final Four potential from the beginning of the season.  It took a little bit longer to kind of get to the level you wanted this team to play.  But seeing that they kind of got to that level, that finally got to the level you wanted them to play at and they got this experience, how do you think that kind of‑‑ how do you carry that into the next season?
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  Well, obviously when you get to have that kind of experience, when you make the run that we did, Sweet 16, Elite Eight and to be able to play on the biggest stage, it can do nothing but help your returners.
And so when you look at the nucleus of who we have returning and our three freshmen and the presence they've been able to have and the depth we've been able to have this season, definitely that experience factor is key.
Just like Notre Dame's been to the Final Four four times, you can't substitute for that kind of experience.

Q.  Did you say anything special to A.T. in the locker room in postgame?  And I know you didn't want to think about life without A.T., but obviously that's the next step.  When does that phase kind of start moving forward?
COACH BRENDA FRESE:  Geez, can't you just give me a couple minutes?  You know, both taking her off the court and in the locker room with her and our five seniors, I thanked her.  She was a dream come true to be able to coach.
And she left every single thing that she possibly could on the floor.  So, yeah, it's too early to be able to think about life after her.  But I am encouraged by the great minutes that our team was able to get this year.  When you talk about our underclassmen and the depth that we were able to develop.
So you become different.  You become different in terms of you're encouraged by the presence that we got from Bri tonight, Lexie, Laurin, Shatori, there's a lot of great things for us as a team to be able to look forward to and it will just be a different style of play in terms of how we move forward.
THE MODERATOR:  Anything else for Coach Frese?  Okay.  Thank you, Coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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