The Press: Melanie, how often would you take an open 3 from Caroline with six seconds left to tie the game?
Coach Balcomb: I'd take it from Abi, from Caroline. They both got open 3's. But it's a long game, and there are a lot of possessions, and not one play lost this game. We just had every opportunity to win at the end, and that's where you want to be. I can't ask any more than that. Some nights it falls, and some nights it doesn't fall. And it just didn't fall tonight.
The Press: It seemed like there were some possessions down the stretch that were ragged, and you didn't even get a shot.
Coach Balcomb: There were lots of those possessions for both sides all game. But down the stretch I think we executed well and executed everything that I asked them to do, and we got the looks that we wanted.
The Press: Coach, yesterday you said you were going to look at game film from the previous games to see if you could come up with different things. What did you come up with, and what were your keys to the game going in?
Coach Balcomb: We did some different things defensively that I think frustrated them. At times, we switched up defenses probably more than we did the first time. I think we did a better job in transition "D" than we had last time. Last time we gave up a lot of easy baskets in transition, and I think we made a good adjustment in our transition defense, and defensively, rebounding.
When you play Tennessee, the keys are always the same. You've got to rebound with them, because they're going to kill you on the boards, and you've got to take care of the basketball because they're going to pressure and deny everything, so you have to execute and make them play defense, and take care of the ball and not give them any offense off their defense, and be patient. And you've got to play transition defense. Those three things. The keys didn't really change, just some of the things that we worked on doing a better job at and switching some things up.
Again, the game ended on defense more than offense, and I know everybody is going to talk about we didn't make our 3s, but really, we scored a lot of points on a great defensive team, and we got great looks. What we didn't do was get the stops that we needed to get. That's my take on it - not the offense.
The Press: Ashley, could you talk about your play inside. You had some pretty strong baskets. What were you doing to break loose inside and get those shots?
Ashley: I think I was just being aggressive, something I feel like I've been moreso of this year. I just played in the game, pretty much, playing like it was any other game.
The Press: Ashley, can you talk about the difference in the first half? The Tennessee defense was on you and you didn't get as many shots as you did in the second half.
Ashley: They came out really aggressive, and because of that, I wasn't really posting to the ball. I was kind of shying away from the contact and posting for the curl pass, which wasn't necessarily there every time. We talked about that at halftime and how I needed to get more shots, needed to get more touches, and I feel like I adjusted in the second half.
The Press: Coach, talk about your defense defending Tennessee's 3-point shot?
Coach Balcomb: Yeah, that's the area we didn't do a good job. The first time we played them, they really hurt us, Zolman and Jackson, and that was our goal the second time we played. We played some box and one, triangle and two, and tried to face guard and keep the ball out of their hands. I think the first time we played them, they were combined 38 points, and then the second time, Jackson didn't even score and we held Zolman down, so we cut that more than in half. And then tonight, that was still was one of the things we worked on defending and didn't do a good job especially on Jackson and didn't do a good job on Zolman. In key situations they got shots that we shouldn't have let them get, and we had some breakdowns.
The Press: Were you surprised with the free throw situation in the second half?
Coach Balcomb: (Chuckles.) No comment.
The Press: Abi, you hit a lot of 3-pointers so you must have been pretty open. Was that part of the game plan, or did that just develop as play went on?
Abi: It just kind of developed. I think they started getting tired, and they gave me the space. I know that I have the green light to hit those 3's, so once I hit my second one, I think I knew I was going to take the next, and the next.
The Press: Abi, what are your thoughts on the last couple of minutes when it came down to crunch time?
Abi: You know, we started trading buckets with them, which is something you never want to do. We'd make big shots, and they'd come back and score, and it was a blow to us. In the end, we had to run seconds off, that was big, and we didn't have fouls we needed. Every possession we had to run some seconds off to foul. Tennessee does a good job of knowing how to win games, and that's what they did tonight.
The Press: What were your thoughts when Caroline's shot was in the air?
Abi: I thought "Money!" I believe in her. She's a great shooter, natural shooter, and I think every shot she shoots is going in.