Coach Balcomb: I think the big thing is, when you're on the road and you get down, it's a lot easier to play free on offense. We got a lead, and they made a run, and we got tight, and we didn't execute well. Then once we got down, you have nothing to lose - you're on the road, you're playing against a great team. And so I thought we played freer and started executing again. Because during that time when they got the lead, they did a great job picking up the pressure defensively, and we weren't getting the shots, we weren't making the shots, and I think we did a better job when we got down.
The Press: In terms of forcing turnovers down the stretch, was that just an effort thing?
Coach Balcomb: We also full-court pressed more. We turned up our three-quarter court press. We had been playing some man and some zone, and then we played full-court a lot more than we did when we were down, and that picked up the pressure and getting them to turn it over a little bit. It also made them take a lot of time off the clock, and then they got down there and made some quick shots.
The Press: Can you talk about the last few seconds of regulation and what happened there?
Ashley: Originally the play was designed to get it in to Carla. Humphrey did a good job pressuring the ball. I saw Carla was open, but there wasn't a lane. And then I tried to take a dribble and find the passing lane. That didn't work. And then I tried to drive, and the ball slipped out of my hands, and everybody was yelling at me to go get the ball and then to shoot, so I was like, oh! And I had to run really quickly and I just got it up. It happened so quickly not very much went through my head but "Shoot the ball!" I was a little nervous about what practice was going to be like if I didn't regain possession of the ball. (Laughter.)
The Press: Did she strip it out of your hands, or did you just lose it going up?
Ashley: I don't really know what happened. I very well could have just lost it.
The Press: Ashley, after the shot, you just kind of stood there. Was that posing, or was that shock?
Ashley: A little of both. I don't really practice the fade-away from the corner too many times.
The Press: Is that about as far out as you've taken a shot this year?
Ashley: I don't know. Pretty much. I don't really shoot from the corner too much, so I guess you could say yes.
The Press: Did you think that coming back and hitting that shot would give you momentum going into overtime?
Coach Balcomb: We hoped so. We talked about being confident. We had only played one overtime game this year, and it was two overtimes and we won, and it was on the road in the SEC, so I thought our kids would be confident just knowing that also. That's what I thought of. The last time we had won, and we carried ourselves really well in overtime on the road, so I knew we would have some momentum going into overtime.
The Press: Winning a game like this and closing it out like that, what does that do for the confidence and poise of your team?
Abi: Oh, it's huge for us right now. This is when we want to be able to come together as a team and win these big games, to be able to go into the SEC tournament on a big win like this on an away game keeps us on a high right now.
Ashley: You always want to be the team that's peaking in March, and fortunately we're one of those teams. We've always been one of those teams.
The Press: You've shown that you're a team that can play well on the road. You've come back from behind and gone on to win in OT a couple of times. Can you talk how you go about building a team that's successful on the road when the pressure's on?
Abi: I think Coach touched a little bit on it. We play freer when we're on the road. We knew it was a tough matchup for us, and she said in a lot of ways a lot of our stats were alike, and it would be a pretty good matchup. So I think it just gives us the chance to play free and let every go loose.
The Press: Coach, how do you go about instilling that attitude because that's not the conventional thinking on road games?
Coach Balcomb: What I've always believed is that it's easier to win on the road. I don't know if that translates into my team, but I don't feel like-- I think at home in the SEC, it's such a tough conference that at home, you've got to win those games, and everybody's telling you've got to win the home game and maybe split on the road or steal one here and here.
So I have a tendency to just feel like we can play a lot freer and go for it, and I think that's what important. On offense, you have to be relaxed, and so many teams get tight. I just think it helps.
I also don't talk about the road. I think in the men's games because of the crowds there's a huge difference home and away. I don't talk about it. I think a lot of coaches spend so much time talking about it - "We're playing at home and we've got to save the home court." Well, the flip flop of that, on purpose I never talk about "This is a home game, we've got to protect our home" and ""Home home home", "Don't come in this house!"
I try to play that down because I think that puts pressure on kids. I don't think it makes them feel any looser. And the families are there, everybody's there, and the students, and you want to do really well at home. I have good kids, and they don't want to play bad; they want to play well, so why make it harder for them? So on the road, I feel a lot more relaxed on the road. You screw up, nobody sees it. You wear an ugly blouse, nobody sees it. You know what I mean?
Ashley: I agree with them. You're on the road, and there's not a lot of pressure on you. I love playing on the road, because it's like everything's against you. Their crowd is there. They're familiar with the court, and you just have to get out and play hard. You have to be scrappy. When you're on the road, I feel like it's already like you're down. You're playing when you're down.
The Press: Out on the court, it looks like you like each other a lot. Does that help?
Ashley: I think our team has great team chemistry. That's why most of us came here was for the team chemisty, and we're a great team because of that. And of course I do think that helps. When our backs are against the wall and we are down, we come together, and I think that can be attributed to our team chemistry.
The Press: What do you think of the benefits of a 3 seed versus a 4 going into the tournament?
Coach Balcomb: I haven't looked at it. I won't let myself, but obviously it just means a difference of whether you're in LSU's or Tennessee's, and we lost to both teams. It doesn't make a difference either way. We want to make sure that we take care of the first game, and the first game is the most important game.
Photo copyright 2005 by WhitneyD for VandyMania.com.