March 3, 2012
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp as well as student athletes Brittany Rayburn and Courtney Moses.
Coach, an opening statement.
COACH VERSYP: I just thought it was amazing basketball game. Both teams had the will to win. Knew it was going to be tough on the boards and a very physical game.
And envisioned it would come down, since it continued to stay close, down to the last possession. And, you know, we executed exceptionally well. We were able to finish at the end. And obviously we're very excited where we're at right now.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for the student athletes.
Q. Brittany, can you just talk about the last possession and sort of the progress that the ball took in getting to you and what you saw on your way to the basket?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: Yeah, I think, first of all, we executed it perfectly. I think Coach drew up a perfect play for us.
It was a play that had been working all second half. And we just kept going back to it. And Chantel made a great pass, and the rest is history.
Q. I think you went up over Greene. Is that right?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: Sure, I don't know.
Q. She obviously has some height advantage. Did you have to adjust at all or did you feel you just went straight up strong?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: I knew that the refs aren't going to decide the game at the end of the game. It's right not to do that. I knew that regardless of who was there, I had to finish. I knew I had to get to the basket. And also for an outside shot.
Regardless of who was there, I had to get to the basket.
Q. Brittany, how much of this was about when you were on the bench and had to watch your team and still maintain a lead and kept enthusiasm, still seemed pretty fired up in the first half?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: Yeah. We had a great all around effort by everybody. This young lady kept us in there with a great percentage from the floor. She's shooting well and everybody's setting great screens. And Antionette Howard coming in with 18 boards, that's awesome. I think we had an all around great performance from everybody tonight.
Q. Brittany, you've had some opportunities, Michigan game there, I guess, whatever game it was, Michigan State, did you learn anything from that today about trying to take it hard on the layup like that?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: Yeah, I think we've had a lot of close games where we didn't finish, a lot of overtime games. We didn't want it to go into overtime, obviously, because we wanted to be able to play another game and have fresh legs.
And I think we all decided in that timeout this is ours, and we just came together as a team and said we're going to get it.
Q. Courtney, take us through your vantage point of how everything unfolded on that last play.
COURTNEY MOSES: Like she said, we ran it perfectly. Coach set up the perfect play. It had been working all game. Chantel made a great pass, Brittany just read it, went baseline. She had Maggie Lucas on one side and Nikki Greene on the other, and she just went up over right off the glass, and there was like one second left, but we played good defense and won the game.
Q. Courtney, I think Penn State led for maybe five seconds throughout the game. You hit a lot of 3s. Every time they seemed to have momentum, you seemed to answer with big shots of your own. Where did that mental toughness come from and how did you progress off the season to develop it?
COURTNEY MOSES: I say mental toughness comes from being in the gym, and not only from being in the gym, but it comes from the people you surround yourself with, my teammates and coaches. Once you have all the confidence in the world from them coming to you, then the rest is history.
Q. We think of Purdue and how much success the program has had in this building. But the thought registers that this class hasn't won this title yet, right? Tell me, each of you, what this win would mean tomorrow.
BRITTANY RAYBURN: As a senior this is your goal when you come in as a freshman, win Big Ten titles.
We've had a lot of fun with this group. This is a great young group of women. We've been through a lot of things in our time here. People that are here, we've went through near death circumstances and we've pulled together as a group.
And I think it's something that we've worked extremely hard for, and it would be a great win in our season going into the NCAA.
COURTNEY MOSES: Just speaking from what Brit said, we have six seniors, and being on behalf of the underclassmen, we're playing for our seniors.
Q. Brittany, could you talk about the job that the bench did there when you and Sam O. were on the bench with two fouls in the first half, in particular Antionette Howard seemed to really rise up today?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: Like I said earlier, everybody played extremely well today. Bench, starters, everybody that went in the game did their job and they did it great.
That's the big key to the team: We have a big bench because everyone that goes in works as hard as they can and gets their job done. Antionette did a great job today hitting the boards and scoring buckets for us.
Q. You've avenged losses to Michigan State and now Penn State, and you'll have to do it tomorrow against Nebraska. What did you learn from those games and what did you maybe change between the times you played Michigan State and Penn State the first time and then now?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: A lot of the same things. We played every team extremely hard and to the end, and our coaching staff has put up great game plans for us. And I think right now we're executing it to a T. We have to continue to do that.
Q. Your thoughts on playing Nebraska tomorrow? I know the first game was a thriller. You came out on the wrong end?
BRITTANY RAYBURN: I just say we're excited. It's exciting to let this victory settle in. We're going to get rest tonight and hit it hard again in the morning and get a good scout in.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, ladies. Questions for Coach.
Q. Did you feel like you made Maggie Lucas uncomfortable tonight maybe not getting in the spots she wanted to get into?
COACH VERSYP: I feel we did. You know, anytime you play a team, you have to make adjustments. And I thought we did a good job on her, kind of just chasing her, face guarding her everywhere.
I thought KK did an exceptional job early on, her quickness. Then Dee Dee and Chantel, those two are constantly rotating off on her.
I think we disrupted her. Then at the end of the game, probably the last minute 30, we just were switching off screens, so it was just a totally different look, bigger person on her, making her do something that she didn't feel comfortable with.
Q. Softball question, but I'll throw two at you at once. Coaches love to talk about team basketball and how much all different facets come together, but talk about the stretch in the first half with Rayburn on the bench and you guys maintain a lead. And then, secondly, I'm wondering what you or your program think about this place, because you always seem to do well here.
COACH VERSYP: I think for us, the entire year is we're not about one player; we're about a team. And every player on this team has stepped up and done some great things. When people have been sitting, people have been injured. So we've always had someone else that might have been a leading scorer. So I think it's hard to defend sometimes and other people will step up.
As for playing here, you know, this Fieldhouse has been amazing to us. I think our last memory of this was last year, though, when Drey [Mingo] almost died and we were here playing Auburn. It was a celebration of life. That's what we're bringing into the tournament today.
We had success before. But that was more important than any basketball game, and I think we're thriving off of that right now.
Q. In the last minute things weren't necessarily going your way there with several things. Just what was your message there with 16 seconds to go, and then what did you set up and what did you see?
COACH VERSYP: We knew they were going to make a free throw. They were ahead by two. Got the ball, supposed to get the ball in by Courtney the first time and kind of dribbled off her leg, and she's very frustrated and, yeah, they scored. But bringing it up, we knew exactly what play we were going to run.
It's been working. We called a specific set. But I think we took care of the basketball exceptionally well. Made very good passes. Lucas tried to deny Brittany. And just like take it to the hole. She was going to have a shot, curl or try to get to the basket.
And she just read it very well. And it got overplayed. So Brittany finished.
Q. If you can set Brittany's plays aside, what does it mean to have someone like her in your program, the kind of captain she is, the leader, the person who does everything right, the foundation?
COACH VERSYP: Yeah, I mean, Brittany's a leader on and off the court. She's a great human being. She gives back to the community.
She's an amazing student. Going to be in vet school. And she's an incredible basketball student. And she really makes everybody around her better. She brings a calm and a confidence when she's out on the court. We're just totally different. And she's obviously had a lot of accolades, but she's going to give credit to everybody else. So she's very special to our program.
Q. Can you just talk about the job Howard did? And also you had a 54 33 rebounding advantage. What did that mean for you in terms of getting this win?
COACH VERSYP: We said we had to do a great job of boxing them out, limit their offensive goals. So holding them to 12 was a big feat for us, because we didn't do that that well yesterday. So we were really focused on that. Antionette brought so much energy. And I thought that was good.
She didn't play as many minutes yesterday. So she had great legs today, playing 27. Being able to rebound. Being able to score. But I think her offensive boards was obviously the big difference.
But it was everybody. For us to beat them on the boards by that amount, we said that was the key to the game.
Q. Coach, I don't know if you've seen much of Nebraska's run recently, but how tough do you think tomorrow's final will be?
COACH VERSYP: When you get to the final, it will be tough. Doesn't matter who you're playing right now. Nebraska had a month like we did in February. They went on a losing streak and so did we, and now we turn it around at the right time.
They're playing really good basketball, and so are we. And I think the depth's going to come in. But they're a great basketball team. They've been a great addition to the Big Ten. No matter who gets to the final game, both teams are very solid.
Q. Huskers have gone on runs of 41 10, 40 16, and 40 10 the past three games. What do you think the key will be for Purdue to stop them going on a run like that?
COACH VERSYP: The biggest thing is just playing good solid defense, matching their intensity. They're a great offensive team and obviously defensive team as well.
They gave us everything, and we played an exceptional game, the three overtime, so just go back to the basics of playing some defense.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by Penn State head coach Coquese Washington and student athletes Alex Bentley and Mia Nickson. We'll start right off the bat with questions for the student athletes.
Q. Mia, could you just talk a little bit about the rebounding battle tonight. You had 13 rebounds to lead the team, but overall the team struggled in that aspect. Could you talk about that a little bit?
MIA NICKSON: I mean, they just had all five people on the glass. And so it was difficult at times to get your hands on it.
They really keyed in on getting on the boards. And they did a great job of that tonight.
Q. Alex, I imagine you had some people here tonight. I just wonder how tough this is for you. I'm sure you would have liked to have won at your hometown?
ALEX BENTLEY: Yeah, I mean we're not happy. It's really a tough loss. It hurts really bad. It's not the way, you know, we wanted it to end up. But just gotta keep our heads up, because we have more basketball to play.
Q. Alex, just looking at the box score, you guys did a pretty good job of keeping the ball only eight turnovers. Despite how they were able to really play defense and shut down Maggie, can you talk about how you guys were really able to handle and go up and down the floor?
ALEX BENTLEY: I think my teammates are great at ball pressure. We stuck to the game plan. We moved the ball well. And that's pretty much it.
Q. Alex, when you fouled out with about a minute left, I saw you huddle up your teammates on the court and they came back from five points down to tie it up. What did you say to them in the huddle?
ALEX BENTLEY: I told them they got it. I believed in them 100 percent. I knew that my teammates were going to pull out something crazy. And I knew and I believed we were still going to win it.
And I just told them to go out and do it.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions for Coach.
Q. Can you just talk about the job that Purdue did defensively, particularly on Maggie?
COACH WASHINGTON: I thought they did a pretty good job all night long. They're a good team, defensive team. It was a struggle. I mean, I think both of us are pretty good defensive teams.
And that's why it was a struggle all night long for either team, I felt, to get into a rhythm. So they did a good job.
Q. I just spoke to Alex briefly in the locker room. She seemed trying to stay optimistic despite this loss. Can you talk a little bit about her leadership tonight and how she played on the court?
COACH WASHINGTON: Well, she's a tremendous competitor. And it's evident by her play that she's the leader of this team. And she willed us to stay in the game when we really couldn't get into an offensive flow, rhythm. She made some big baskets.
And so I mean, the team kind of feeds off that. And I think her competitive fire and her will to win is one of the things that we key on and count on.
Q. When we see rebounding differentials like this, when you guys beat Ohio State, you did it pretty handily. Despite being down 22, you guys only lost by two. Can you talk about their will to stay in it and keep fighting, working getting the boards?
COACH WASHINGTON: Purdue did a great job rebounding, obviously, but I thought we did a pretty good job defensively. We pressured them into some turnovers, turning those turnovers in the points.
We just didn't do that quite enough. But obviously if you give up 22 rebounds and 19 offensive rebounds, it's going to be tough for you to win the game.
Moving forward, we've got to get better at the rebounding.
Q. What were you trying to do on that last play defensively to try and get that stop?
COACH WASHINGTON: Well, I thought we did a good job defensively. And I just think Brittany Rayburn made a better shot. Sometimes that happens. She drove it right into Nikki Greene. I think Nikki might have even tipped it a little bit. And she got it up high and it went in.
So we defended it as well as you could defend it without fouling. And she made a great shot.
Q. No. 2, Antionette Howard, I think only played ten minutes in West Lafayette, didn't really do a whole lot. But today she goes for a double double. What did you see out of her maybe that was a little bit unexpected?
COACH WASHINGTON: Nothing unexpected. She just she played like a senior. And I think her energy on the boards really gave them a lift especially the first half. She got a lot of offensive rebounds. And she was tough on the boards and given second chances, and I think that really galvanized them and gave them some confidence.
Q. Really close game like this, how did you miss the presence of Ariel Edwards tonight?
COACH WASHINGTON: We missed her. We missed her big. I think she could have helped on the rebounding, for sure. Gave us a little bit more size. She probably would have been guarding Rayburn, that last play. So maybe with a little bit more size maybe she doesn't have quite the angle to make it.
But hopefully we'll have her back for the NCAA tournament.
Q. Nikki, second game where she hasn't been, she hasn't scored in the first half. Any concerns looking ahead at the NCAA getting her going earlier than halftime?
COACH WASHINGTON: She had great shots. She just didn't put them down. So I'm not worried about that. She'll make them.
You can't worry about offense. I mean, I'd be worried if she wasn't getting touches. I'd be worried if she wasn't getting the ball in spots where she could do something positive with it. But she's getting great looks. And the last two games in the first half they rolled in and out, just came off her hand a little short, a little long, a little left. She'll be fine.
Q. How long do you think it will take for the team to shake off a buzzer beater like this in the Big Ten tournament and look totally ahead towards NCAAs?
COACH WASHINGTON: Hopefully they'll shake it off pretty quickly. Fortunately for us we're at spring break so they've got a few days to go home and get some home cooking and TLC and get revved up for the NCAA tournament.
But we talked in the locker room. I'm not disappointed in the way we played. I wish we would have won the game, but, I mean, this is what happens when you're in competitive sports.
Sometimes you play as hard as you can, you do everything you can, and you lose. And that doesn't mean you're a loser. And that doesn't mean you need to hang your head. We played a very good game, especially the second half. Purdue played a great game and they made the last play. They made the last play, and there's no more time left for us to make a play.
And I just take my hat off to Purdue. They played a great game. And I'm really proud of our team. And we're going to go in the NCAA tournament and we're going to be confident and we're going to be a tough team to play, and our kids are going to go home and get rested up and get rejuvenated, and we're going to get ready to go and play in the NCAA tournament and play our best basketball.
Q. Talk about the last play. Just your thoughts going into it, going for the quick 2 when you guys could have held for the potential last shot of the game. Just your thoughts on that offensive series.
COACH WASHINGTON: I wanted to put the pressure on them to make a play. And they did. But our thought was we're going to go for the tie, and we're going to try to tie it up and see if we can get one stop.
And unfortunately we didn't. But I like the way we executed on the last play. And it turned out the way it turned out.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.