March 6, 2014
COACH BLUDER: We knew this was going to be a hard fought game. It didn't matter what happened last Sunday, new game, new season, everybody is 0 0 all of those cliches, but it's true. I wouldn't expect anything from Illinois but to give us their best shot.
I thought Amber Moore did an extremely good job for them today. I have a lot of respect for her. But I thought our team obviously didn't take care of the ball as well as we did last Sunday. But we still got high percentage shots. We got great paint points. Bethany had a career high 26 points tonight, and a lot of those came right around the basket. And we had some great assists in order for that. We had 20 assists on 27 baskets. So nice job with that.
We shot the ball well from every area. I thought it was a good first performance and, now, we have to move on and get ready for Purdue.
Q. Ally, can you talk a little bit about Bethany's game? What was Illinois' defense allowing and what were you guys able to do offensively that led to her having so much success today?
ALLY DISTERHOF: Yeah, I think their zone just got spread out and we did a good job identifying that. And Bethany is a pretty wide or long target in there. So I think we capitalized on that.
Q. Samantha Logic obviously played practically the whole game for you and because of fouls in the first half, she only had ten minutes. How do you feel you guys adjusted without her on the court for so much time?
BETHANY DOOLITTLE: I think she stepped up to the game and I think everybody did their part to give us success tonight.
Q. Ally, did you kind of take it into your own hands, or did you decide that you needed to take the game into your own hands, kind of late in the first half or was that something that Coach Bluder told you to do?
ALLY DISTERHOFT: I think it just came with the flow of the game. Like I said, we had kind of a rough start with the turnovers, but at the end of the half, we gained a lot of momentum. I think we got some defensive boards and then we looked to run and push. I think we had a couple of and ones. Those and ones get us pretty pumped up so that was nice to ride that momentum going into half time.
Q. Ally, obviously you just mentioned those and ones. You had one in particular that came across the lane blocked. I know your bench went pretty crazy. Bethany had the and one on the other end. What do you feel about that play and do you feel got you guys going for half time?
ALLY DISTERHOFT: Yeah, I was just trying to be in good outside position. I don't think she knew I was coming across. Just went for the ball and got it. Someone hit Bethany and she got that and one. So, yeah, that gave us a ton of momentum. Yeah, I think obviously you could tell they were pretty excited about that one.
Q. Bethany, did you expect to have this much and ones or was that part of your game plan or something that kind of came along?
BETHANY DOOLITTLE: I think we definitely tried to look inside tonight. I think that was a good advantage for us. Our passes are really great on the outside and finding people when they're open. And when people work hard and get position down low, they find us and we can make the baskets.
Q. Ally, obviously the first game against Purdue went down to the wire. What are one or two things that you guys have to do tomorrow to come out with the win?
ALLY DISTERHOFT: I think we have to come out and execute. Our last game with Purdue, we felt like it was our game, and we kind of gave it away. We have to come out strong from the beginning and carry that throughout the game. They're going to play physical and we just have to match that.
Q. Bethany, how much do you look forward to that game and just, as Ally said, the ways you guys lost it, is it something that you've been were you kind of looking forward since you saw the brackets?
BETHANY DOOLITTLE: Yeah, we have to definitely focus on Illinois first, and now that game is over we can focus on Purdue. I think that's a huge focal point for us, and we're looking for that revenge tomorrow night.
Q. Coach, how happy were you with the way that your team kind of handled that situation for having Samantha out for the last four and a half minutes for the first half?
COACH BLUDER: We built a big lead when she was out. That hasn't happened for us. I think that's great for us to go through those experiences and understand that if Sam goes out fine, we can handle it. That's a great experience that we're going to be able to draw upon later. She had five assists she played well tonight.
Q. It seemed like in the first half it was a little touchy. Did you feel like your team got caught up on what the refs were calling?
COACH BLUDER: I think it's easy for players to get caught up on that. That's my job and not their job. I definitely think that sometimes they can get caught up in it.
Q. Coach, what does it say about Ally's maturity that she was kind of able to recognize that as a team of struggling a little bit and that she needed to do something on her own?
COACH BLUDER: Ally is a competitor. And I know she looks like a little scrawny kid. She's not. She's tough. And, mentally, she's very, very strong. She's, I mean, won a state championship. She knows what it's like to compete. She's played in tough AAU tournaments. So it doesn't surprise me at all that she would understand that she needs to step up. And for our two freshmen to come in here and play this well on their first Big Ten tournament, I think is a great thing.
Q. Same question I asked the players, what are one or two things tomorrow that have to happen for you to win?
COACH BLUDER: Well, you know, Courtney Moses is playing very, very well right now. And we just cannot let her have an incredible night like she had in the second half against us the first time that we played them. You know, defensively, we let up too many easy ones in the second half. We did a great job in the first half. But we let up in the second half. And so, just understanding -- you know, just never having those let ups and keep going until the horn is sound. With them, they have so many sets and there's no way without a practice that we can prepare for all of those sets. It's got to be really relying on our fundamentals and resorting to that. Hopefully, since we've been practicing since June, they have some of that stuff down.
Q. Coach, how crucial was it the way that you closed out the first half and to how you guys were able to approach that second half?
COACH BLUDER: I thought that gave us great momentum going into the half. I think it was 13 2 or something like that. I'm not sure exactly what it was, but it was great momentum going into the locker room feeling like that. And it also let us know that, Hey, we can have another run in us like that again. We got up 20. They got it. We said, Okay, we've been here. We've done that. Let's do it again. We had another run in us still.
COACH BOLLANT: I thought we showed a lot of fight, and the stats showed that. We had 16 steals and 17 offensive rebounds, forced 24 turnovers, which showed a lot of fight. I thought the difference of the game was the end of the first half. It was 30 29 with two minutes left in the half, and to get outscored 11 0 at the end of the half was really disappointing. That foul trouble with Ivory getting three and Jacqui hurt us that that first half and our bench didn't give us the lift we needed there as we went into the half.
We battled, got down the second half, came back, cut it to nine. I thought it was a big charge call driving to the rim. It would have been great to keep a little more pressure on them, but the charge call kind of changed the momentum of that and didn't get it done. But obviously the shooting percentages, if you're looking at that, jumps out at you, as well. Credit Iowa for making a lot of shots, and Doolittle played a really good game, but the shooting percentages really hurt us.
Q. Doolittle obviously had a big game. What was it defensively you guys were lacking or what were they doing offensively to lead to that?
AMBER MOORE: I think we weren't getting the trap as hard as we would like in the short corner. That's where they hurt us the most, and getting that back side over to take away that pass.
Q. Amber, for a senior, how tough is that last walk off the court, and what are the emotions?
AMBER MOORE: It's tough just knowing that this is my last game in college, and just being to play with my teammates and knowing I can't play anymore. It's emotional, but I think as a team we fought, and that's all you've got.
Q. The same question I asked the players. What about your defense or what were they doing offensively that led to Doolittle having such a big game today?
COACH BOLLANT: Yeah, I think part of it, throwing the ball over the top, I think our lack of size hurt us and Grant just not being physically as strong, when she got touches she was able to finish, and I think they threw it over the top a few times and just our inability and lack of size to be really able to contest her, and then in the first half she got out and ran, and I remember I thought that was a big bucket. She had an and one in the first half that I thought showed her athleticism.
She's gotten a ton better. Give her a lot of credit for really working on her game. She plays much more aggressive than she used to, and we didn't limit her touches, but her lack of size limited her ability to finish.
Q. When Logic was on the bench with fouls, it's kind of obvious but how much of a momentum
COACH BOLLANT: Yeah, I felt like that was the difference in the game. We were down 30 29, up 28 27, and Logic on the bench, and for them to go on an 11 0 run to end the half was just -- that really hurt us. We got in foul trouble, as well, so we had a couple of our best players on the bench, but with Logic on the bench, credit their bench players for stepping up and making plays to help them finish the half really well.