NCAA Postgame Quotes: #2 Tennessee 83, #15 Oral Roberts 62

March 23, 2013

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Holly Warlick, Tennessee Head Coach

(Opening remarks)
"Well, it was obviously a great win for us. Oral Roberts is a tough team, very well coached, very disciplined team, plays hard. They play hard all the time, and we were very concerned with their pressure, their ability to score, their ability to shoot the three. We had to come ready to play. It was a very good opponent, and we're very excited that we get to advance."

(On getting Isabelle Harrison back)
"She just adds another dimension to our team. We've missed her. In all of our big games, she's not been available. I was anxious to get her back. I thought in the beginning she was a little rusty. It's just good to see her get back on the floor, her getting up and down. She made some good plays. She had some good defensive stops, rebound the ball. I think she played like she has not been hurt, and that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to get her in, get some minutes, see how she goes. I'm very proud of her today."

(On her halftime speech)
"I thought that our defense was average. I thought that Oral Roberts had a great game plan. I thought Luper was exceptional. She would get us up, and then she would go under. We had to get a little more disciplined in our one-on-one game. We trapped a little bit more. We were a little bit more aggressive. We settled down, and I thought we attacked them a little bit more. I just challenged them. We had twenty minutes. We had twenty minutes to advance or twenty minutes to go home. I thought they stepped up. When we go in the locker room, they write down what they think they needed to work on. The things that they put down were right on. They were right on: one-on-one defense, boxing out, limiting your turnovers. We just focused on us and tried to get better, especially one-on-one defense."

(On the final stretch of the first half)
"I think you talk about Meighan Simmons. I think her defense set the tone for her and set the tone for us, had some really good steals which led to her layups. I just think we stepped up our defense a little bit. We played in spurts the first half. I think we've got to shorten those gaps. When we play as hard as we can play, great things happen for us. I thought Meighan ignited all of our energy by getting steals and making things happen. We all know that she can score, but she is one of our best defenders when she puts her mind to it. We tried to challenge her as well, but I think everybody stepped up and we had really, really good energy off the bench."

Ariel Massengale, Tennessee Sophomore Guard

(On using defense to create offense)
"I think that's something that we definitely pride ourselves on. I think the speed that Meighan and I have to put pressure on the other team's guards. It's something that we definitely take a lot of pride in. It's something we want to do. It makes the game a lot easier for us, a lot more fun being able to get steals and get easy buckets in transition."

Meighan Simmons, Tennessee Junior Guard

(On using defense to create offense)
"I think for us like Ariel said we have two guards at the top who can actually put a lot of pressure on them, and if we do get beat, we have Izzy and Bashaara in there for an inside presence. I think when we play together as a team on the defensive end good things happen, great things happen."

(On her getting off to a quick start)
"I got easier baskets getting in the passing lane and actually getting steals and putting pressure on the ball. As of right now I'm not focused on how many points I get, things like that. I'm just focused on doing what I can to make my teammates proud."

(On the presence of Isabelle Harrison)
"We missed her. We really did. We needed Izzy today because we needed that extra oomph. Izzy brings that. When she has that inside presence like she did today getting three amazing blocks. It intimidates a lot of people."

Misty Cussen, Oral Roberts Head Coach

(Opening comments)
"For us, it was less of a story of statistics today. I want to let you know, because she is this special to us and we really didn't have her today: Jaci's been able to take in about 500 calories in the past 48 hours. She's been extremely sick, and I told Meighan to get off of her a little bit; she was working her a little too hard. I would have loved to have had a healthy Jaci Bigham come to Knoxville today. Obviously, if you've seen anything about her stats going into this game, she's seventh in the nation in assists, and we just didn't have any explosion in those legs today. We started out behind the 8-ball today. You come into Knoxville, and you already have a small margin of error because they're playing their first-round game on the home court. I just want to say that it's been so well run and it's on us today.

"What a fantastic job by Coach Warlick and her players. They were ready to go, and we didn't have the legs to match them today. We had to punt a little bit on what we normally like to do offensively. There's been something about us with point guards facing Tennessee in the first round. In 2008, we lost our point guard after seven seconds with a torn ACL and we limped in with a sick one today. It's been a great experience for us. It's been great for Kevi, Jaci, and Savanna. I was really proud of Savanna's effort on the floor today and the minutes she played. We just started out behind. We tried to keep that hush-hush, but I'm very proud of the effort today."

(On Jaci's sickness)
"It started on Wednesday, about 3:00. She's had a severe stomach virus and wasn't able to keep anything down until 9:00 last night. She's mad at me because I keep throwing Pedialyte at her and it tastes bad. It's that feeling of, when you've had a really bad stomach virus, there's just weakness. That's where she is. She didn't want to be sat down, so we limped along today. She is our emotional leader and our motor, both verbally and with the ball. So we came into a situation today with defenders and athletes, like Ariel Massengale and Meighan Simmons who are really good and able to put pressure on her. We just have to go to plan two. Jaci's played so much for us in the past four years, playing two isn't very polished without the ball in her hands. We didn't the best we could with Kevi running the point today.

"Then I think that takes Kevi out of what she normally does for us. That's what we've been dealing with. When we're healthy, we're able to score points in buckets. We'll get two or three in a run. I think that happened for us a little bit. I was very happy with the defensive effort today, but I felt we never got our rhythm going offensively. We did get a few runs and put some shots together, and that's more of who we are, but Tennessee can run players at you that never step down athletically. It was never enough to get over the hump. We wanted to hang around long enough to put pressure on them in their home floor. We just didn't have the stamina to stay around long enough."

(On the 10 first half blocks)
"Sarah's really coming on. She had a block with two minutes left in the conference finals a week ago, and it really turned the tide for us to seal the championship for us. We made a big deal out of it to her, because she's got the potential to do that. We were talking a bit in the locker room about it. Clearly she brought that ability with her here, and hopefully she can take it back home to Tulsa and bring it back out again next year. That has been Sarah's role with us, not only with blocked shots, but she's a shot changer a lot of times. She's got that volleyball background. Hopefully in the off season going into her senior year, she can keep this kind of numbers, in terms of defensive stops. She missed three or four gimmes today. She's such a good shooter; she's our leader in the Southland Conference this year, but today she was 1-for-6, which is surprising. It was surprising; it would have made the margin a little better. In this environment, you can't miss layups. You have that small margin of error. If you want to make it close, those things all have to fall. The encouraging thing is that I'm very proud of the fact that we ran to meet them as hard as we did. With the 10 blocks, I'm very pleased that the girls were ready to step up and battle. We just didn't have the offensive firepower to stay with them for the long run."

Kevi Luper, Oral Roberts Senior Guard

(On Tennessee's run in the early second half)
"Opening minutes of the first and second half are always the most critical. You're setting the tone for the rest of the half. We came out with the first few buckets, and then they started making buckets. We just lost the 13 points. It increased and we never got that back."

(On playing in Thompson-Boling Arena against Tennessee)
"A loss is a loss. I wanted to play at Tennessee in middle school. A loss is a loss. I'm at ORU, and I'm so happy I'm here. We went out and played as hard as we could, but it's still a loss."

Jaci Bigham, Oral Roberts Senior Guard

(On confidence in a comeback)
"I think the team had confidence the whole way through. At halftime even, we were down 13, and we thought we still had a good chance. We just had to make a strong run. We just didn't come out offensively in the first half. They got the fast point buckets and scored in transition. That hurt us. We never got that momentum back when the crowd got into it. I don't think we ever lost confidence. We knew we could chip away at it."

(On playing sick before)
"I don't think I've ever been that sick before. Trying to get my fluids back up and stay hydrated the past couple of days. I've never played under those conditions. The trainers did a good job of getting me back, but I didn't have my legs under me today, and I never got it back."





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