BRENDA FRESE: You know, I thought we came out with a ton of energy, and it started on the defensive end for us. You know, our defense and our rebounding.
But just like you've seen all year, just so many key contributions. Our bench was huge tonight. All season long, we've leaned on so many different players each and every game. First half it was Ieshia being able to work the hot hand. Obviously what Eleanna and Bri were able to do just consistently throughout the entire game.
Obviously we continue to see when we play like this and we play together and we work extremely hard, good things pay off for us.
Q. Ieshia, after senior night you were so adamant to us that this run for you guys wasn't over, and it seemed like you were feeling your shot tonight, especially in the second. What was going so well for you in the first half?
IESHIA SMALL: Just my teammates doing a great job getting me the ball. Just executing the plays, getting the open shots, and not trying to force anything, and I thought we did a good job just playing basketball and just playing Maryland basketball, really.
Q. Bri, coming off the bench, both you and Ieshia, 31 points combined. When the starters maybe aren't scoring and obviously Eleanna and Kaila picked it up later, but how important is it for you guys to make that impact off the bench?
BRIANNA FRASER: I think it's really important. Our teammates, they just feed us a lot of energy. Even if they aren't scoring, they feed us the ball. They're so passive, and they like to pass the ball, even if they're not even scoring, so I feel like that was just -- they just do a good job of that.
Q. Eleanna, we don't often see you leading the team in rebounds. Was that something you were focusing on? If your shot isn't going in or you're not feeling the offensive rhythm, have you been working on that, or was that kind of a mindset thing?
ELEANNA CHRISTINAKI: Defensively the coach says when I don't score, I need to do more things to stay on the court and help our team. So today I was focused to, if I don't make my shots, to rebound more and pass better to my teammates.
Q. How has this experience been for you so far? It's obviously your first tournament here with Maryland. Have you either learned anything about the team or yourself? Has the pace been a little bit different?
ELEANNA CHRISTINAKI: Definitely. It's a different environment. The tournament is one game each time, and I have great teammates, and I'm very happy that I'm here with all of them. We enjoy every moment all together, and I'm so happy that I have the opportunity to be here with these teammates and coaches.
Q. Ieshia and Bri, Ohio State again tomorrow night; you guys have both played them a lot in your careers here at Maryland. What are you looking forward to to face Kelsey Mitchell and the Buckeyes one more time?
IESHIA SMALL: I'm just looking forward to the moment, just being able -- not a lot of teams get to go to the Big Ten championship. So being just happy to have won a lot, not being happy to be there. We're coming there to win.
But just soaking it all in. I know this is my last Big Ten Tournament, and I'm just happy we're able to get this far and play the best that we can, and the outcome will come. I'm just excited for the moment and to be playing against a really talented team.
BRIANNA FRASER: I'm just excited to keep the legacy going. They've been -- Maryland has been winning the championship for a while now, and I just want to keep that going.
Q. You talked about how the double bye was kind of a double-edged sword. Did you see a more warmed-up team tonight or a team that was ready to start on offense a little bit quicker?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, I think you saw that from the tip, that we just had a lot more confidence, a lot more energy, pep to our step. Having shootaround in the arena, all those factors I think were important for us to be able to get the start that we did.
Q. Last week the close game against Nebraska, how much did you take from that game that helped today?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, we definitely used it as motivation for our team coming in. Obviously we've watched Nebraska enough, what they've done this season, that we knew that they were going to come in and play hard for 40 minutes. We were going to get their best shot. Just really wanting to kind of keep our foot on the pedal and not take it off.
Q. What kind of worked so well defensively tonight? Obviously they were held to 47 points. I think they shot 25 percent from the field.
BRENDA FRESE: I just thought, one, our ball pressure. I thought Kaila Charles defensively on Whitish was big. I thought she was able to kind of take away a lot of her vision. But we were just there for each other. When they did go to attack us off the bounce, which you saw against IU, they took it to us. I thought our help side this game, Brianna cleaning it up, we were really there for each other on the defensive end tonight.
Q. How can you translate that into tomorrow night, an Ohio State that scored 90 points in the semifinal game today?
BRENDA FRESE: Yeah, obviously we've played them once this year, but just continuing to be who we are. I think as we've continued to find a way this year with this team, the success that we've had is when we continue to play within ourselves, and so we have to continue to do that on both ends of the floor.
Q. This is the third time you guys played them this year, third time you kept KK off the floor for a good chunk of the game. How does that open things up for you guys on both ends of the floor?
BRENDA FRESE: It's huge. I think the X factor for us has been Brianna Fraser each time. She's been big getting her out of the game and has a lot of confidence. That's a big piece of who they are. She's going to have a talented career. But I think that X factor for us has been big.
AMY WILLIAMS: Well, we're disappointed in this loss. I mean, we came down to this tournament. We wanted to make a run, and we wanted to put ourselves for sure in that championship game, and so we're disappointed that we fell short on that here today.
But we're excited that this will not be the end of this team playing together.
Q. What has this experience been like for you and what was that like tonight?
JANAY MORTON: Honestly, it's been an incredible blessing just to be here and be a part of the experience. Obviously we lost, so that didn't feel good, but just being able to get into the Big Ten Tournament and make a run was good.
Q. Emily, a couple weeks ago you talked about how your role has been changing but there you are trying to lead a comeback in the Big Ten Tournament. How ready are you to do whatever you need to do and just put your body on the line at times?
EMILY WOOD: Yeah, that's always my mindset, be ready when opportunities come. You never know when somebody is going to be injured or there's going to be an opportunity, so I just stay ready all the time, like tonight there was that opportunity. So yeah, always ready to step in.
Q. Have you ever taken that much contact on a play when you've been called for a foul before?
EMILY WOOD: No, I have not. I didn't quite agree with that call, but it is what it is.
Q. Was that different what they were doing in guarding Hannah, or was it more effective in taking away her vision and her ability to make plays?
AMY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I didn't notice anything different. I think they were very aggressive with her pretty much all the times that we played, maybe even more at their place and then here at the tournament.
But I think they were very aggressive. They put their best defensive players on her, and they pressured the whole night, and that can really wear on you after playing two nights in a row.
Q. In general, how do you feel like you matched up athletically with them, and how much does that kind of play into maybe some of the stagnant periods you guys had offensively?
AMY WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, tonight was clearly not our best night offensively. And they deserve some credit. Obviously their defense had us out of sync and out of rhythm, and I think their defensive pressure, partly because they have great athleticism, great, smart basketball players, but I think there were some times where I felt like maybe we would have normally secured a rebound, and because of their size or strength or athleticism that it came down in their favor.
But for the most part, I felt like we felt disappointed because we didn't handle that very well, and we feel like we've done that better than what we showed here tonight, and we would have liked to have had a better offensive performance.
Q. KK was in foul trouble again. Was there any conversation amongst you and your assistant coaches about how to play here?
AMY WILLIAMS: Yeah, we've been having lots of conversations with Kate, and every time we've played Maryland they've really taken it at her and she just has gotten into foul trouble, in Lincoln at their place and now again here for the third time in the conference tournament she's been in foul trouble. And we've had lots of discussion about ways that we can try to correct that and how important and valuable she is as a post presence for us offensively. We just can't afford to have her in foul trouble on the bench.
Q. You guys got the big win over Michigan last night; how do you think your team has set up for Selection Monday? It seems like you guys are on the bubble. How do you feel your team is at now, and how deserving do you think they are to get in the tournament?
AMY WILLIAMS: Yeah, we very obviously think we're deserving of being in the NCAA Tournament. We just have so much respect for this conference and what we've been able to do this year collectively as a whole.
We just feel like there's a lot of really, really good teams, and for us to take the 3 seed from the Big Ten Conference and then have a very good quality win over a ranked opponent yesterday, we feel like it proves that we can compete with the best and we deserve to be playing in that final NCAA Tournament.
Q. Both Emily and Janay had some success tonight. What does that mean for you in March?
AMY WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just thought that in this tournament all three of our seniors played with a sense of urgency, and to have those two be able to spark us a little bit with some offensive production, especially on a night where we were very stagnant and having a hard time putting the ball in the basket. I mean, very important.
But I think most important out of that is just those three seniors showing the underclassmen that sense of urgency and how important it is and being able to kind of play -- show the rest of our team that there's a reason to try to extend this as long as you can.
Q. You didn't get the result you wanted tonight, but to have the "all hands on deck" mentality, how much does that add at tournament time, just giving you guys that experience in these games?
AMY WILLIAMS: Well, I think the most important thing for us all year has just been balance and chemistry and unselfishness. We're playing our very best basketball when we have great production off of our bench. So for us to have a few kids be able to come in and give some quality minutes and find ways to spark and stay with it is very important for us, and it will be as we proceed forward.