MEGAN GUSTAFSON: I think it's just being able to really come out and punch first. We've kind of had that mantra all February long, and so just keeping that going, keeping the energy high right away, I think it helps us. Obviously today it really helped us because they were coming back there at the end. But we're just really happy that we had a great first quarter.
Q. Lexie hit two huge shots at the end of the game. How important was her contribution today?
MEGAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, it was really important. I love seeing people, especially today Lexie stepping up. I got in some foul trouble today, and so it's really nice to be able to depend on outside shooters. Not only does that help out everyone else, but it opens up things down low because they do have to focus on the shooters, as well. Again, I love the team basketball we played today, and I'm just really excited to move forward here.
Q. When you get off to a start like you did, 20 points in the first period, only one point for Northwestern, what does that do for your confidence?
MEGAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, it boosts it a lot. To be able to hold them to one point in the first quarter, that's huge. Not only were we able to score and to put the ball in the bucket, but we were able to get stops on defense, and that was really important. That's been an emphasis all year long is to be able to get those defensive stops, and we were able to do that today.
Q. Building on that, with the 22-1 start, did the team get a little complacent allowing Northwestern to get back into the game in the second quarter and even in the second half?
MEGAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, we came off a great first quarter, held them to one point. I think that kind of gave us a little bit of breathing room. We might have relaxed a little too much, and so they were able to come back in the second quarter, but I think down the stretch we were able to finish and keep them from coming back all the way. Again, I'm just proud of our grit. That's kind of what's required in the game of basketball, especially when there's runs like that.
Q. Why consistently do you get off to such a good start?
COACH BLUDER: You know, there's really not one thing you can point to or that we're really focusing on it, but truly there's not something you can read a textbook and say, okay, do this, X, Y and Z to have that fast start.
Really coming out, we're really ready to go right from the start, we're focused right from the start, but I wish we would have kept it going the rest of the game.
Q. What were they doing defensively when you started executing offensively most of those last three quarters?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, the first quarter our threes were falling for us. We shot the ball extremely well. They missed some easy ones. We were boxing out better in the first quarter, and in the second quarter we kind of stopped boxing out as well and didn't do that for the rest of the game.
They got too many offensive rebounds. Luckily they only scored six points on those 17 offensive rebounds, which is amazing. Basically we got a little bit frustrated with the way that our offense was running, so it wasn't a pretty win, but at this point, we don't care; a win is a win.
Q. Lexi hit two big shots late; how important was her contribution tonight?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, I thought Makenzie really got us going early. Lexi really got us going late. Nice that both of them dropped their threes for us when we needed them and then made their free throws. Lexi did, as well. When they're going to collapse like that, it gives us the open three, and we need to be able to step up and hit them.
Q. I believe with about four minutes left, they cut the lead to five, you called a time-out. Was there anything you said to them during the huddle?
COACH BLUDER: You know, really lots of times, it's kind of a gut check sometimes. Okay, guys -- they understand what they have to do, and we came out and scored after that possession, too, or after that time-out, and I thought that was a good possession to kind of give us momentum going back in our favor.
But you know, I mean, I think it was just like, okay, let's lock down. Let's lock down. It wasn't anything that we changed defensively or anything like that. It was just a point of we got five minutes, you guys, let's go win this game, let's go play great defense. As long as we play great defense, we're going to win this game.
Q. Have you ever held a team to just within point in the first quarter before?
COACH BLUDER: I don't think so. I think that may be the first time I've ever experienced anything like that. That was pretty amazing. And thank goodness for that first quarter and that good start because we needed all of that to finish this game.
Q. How would you rate your team's defense in the last three quarters?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, disappointed we didn't finish the possession. I thought that we just weren't finishing it. That 14, she's a handful to box out. She's incredibly athletic, and she did a great job crashing the boards for us.
But for us, it's the defense, you've got to finish it out. I thought we communicated well in our screens. I thought we made them take some hard shots. They weren't getting really easy shots, and I think that's always good.
Q. You guys won without a huge contribution from Megan. How big is that for your team going forward?
COACH BLUDER: Yeah, I don't remember the last time we won a game when Megan only had eight shots. I think that was really different for us. And it's nice, actually. It's good. It's good for other people to understand that they need to step up in those situations and that they can. And so I think it's actually a really good thing.
Q. Was there anything different they did that disrupted her at all?
COACH BLUDER: You know, we have. We've seen everything on her, but I think it was really basically two people boxing her out every single time, so other people needed to crash. We kind of rely on Megan crashing for us, but other people need to get involved in that.
I think it was just an extremely physical game. It was just like beat her up and see what can happen, surround her every time she had the ball, and again, when that happens, okay, they're giving something else up; what else are they giving up? We need to take advantage of that.
Q. Coach, talk a little bit about today's game and how things progressed. You guys bounced back pretty well from the early slow start and really made it competitive down the stretch.
COACH McKEOWN: It was a great game. We showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight. Unfortunately, we couldn't make a shot in the first quarter, and it just really was frustrating. But to outscore them the way we did in the second quarter, go into halftime down 10 or 11 and get it down to four or five in the fourth quarter, our kids did a great job. Iowa is a real good team, obviously an NCAA Tournament team. But I was just proud of our effort all year. We had some injuries and were real young, but it was a great learning experience for us.
Q. Talk a little bit about your freshman Lindsey Pulliam, had a great freshman year, capped it off here at the tournament with a couple good games in the tournament.
COACH McKEOWN: Yeah, she's a great player, and she's only going to get better, so look out if you're on our schedule, because she wants to -- you know, everybody wants to be great, but she wants to put the work in to be great, and that's what separates her. I'm really proud of her this year. We asked her to do a lot.
Q. You've been at Northwestern now for about a decade and you've seen a lot of these Big Ten tournaments. This is our 25th tournament this year; talk a little bit about what it's meant to you to come and coach at the Big Ten Tournament.
COACH McKEOWN: Yeah, it's a great league, and certainly this year women's basketball, it's been really, from top to bottom, every game is a battle. A lot of great players, great coaches. It's just fun to be part of.