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    Notre Dame vs. Syracuse - Postgame Quotes

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    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    Feb. 26, 2013

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    Head Coach Muffet McGraw

    Opening statement...
    "I liked the second half better. I think we played our game in the second half. We rebounded and defended in the second half. To turn that rebounding deficit was huge for us. I was very pleased with the determination that we had coming out of the locker room. Skylar was amazing running the show and attacking. She didn't let their press slow us down. Kayla McBride made big shot after big shot. She was just huge tonight. It seemed like every time we needed a basket she was the one that made it. I thought everyone gave us good minutes. Syracuse is a really good team. They are so athletic, and they rebound well. Kayla Alexander had just a phenomenal game tonight."

    On what changed to trigger their run...
    "We got some steals. We did a better job of running our transition game because we didn't have to face the press or the zone. Skylar made some huge shots during that run. I think a lot of it was a result of our defense though. Us forcing turnovers was what really kept us in that game. And we didn't turn it over very much. That was what saved us, that and the free throw line."

    On the performance of Natalie Achonwa...
    "Kayla Alexander was really killing us. We thought they were going to try to go inside. When Natalie came into the game, she was able to go one-on-one with her. I think we did a much better job when Natalie was in the game."

    On the play of Kayla McBride...
    "I think she went over a thousand points tonight. It was amazing. We went with a four-guard lineup because we wanted to get Kayla looks in the high post. She has such a great shot. She really roamed around the zone and found the gaps. She did a great job. There were a few times in that game where I thought that we had to have a basket, and she was always there. It was just a great game by her."

    On the crowd...
    "I think another great thing about the game tonight was the crowd. The crowd really won the game for us. There were so many times where they stood up and cheered for us when we needed a stop or a score. They did not let us down. That was a huge benefit for us today."

    Notre Dame Player Quotes

    Skylar Diggins o Senior o Guard

    On the emotions of the game...
    "It was crazy in there tonight. We may have been pressing early a little bit when we were trying to get off to a good start. It was a physical game today. Once we got down, we were just trying to stay calm. I told the team that we were going to win this game, we were just going to have to do it the hard way. Once we broke even I knew we were going to win that game. It was like we were back to zero-zero. I thought we did a good job of stepping the defense up."

    On if she felt she needed to put the game on her shoulders...
    "I think my job is to just be a leader. I need to do whatever we need to win. I was just trying to manage the game. At halftime I said to Kayla McBride, "It's all you, baby." I was tired. I knew she was going to help take us to that win. I spoke to Jewell Loyd too because I knew she was down about the first half. I told her to just have fun. I think sometimes we forget that she is a freshman. I thought the team did a good job."

    On how special her time at Notre Dame has been...
    "I think it has literally been a dream come true. It has been amazing having so many ties to the university, and being able to learn from the people I've always looked up to. Being around these people is something special, and something that you don't forget. The crowd was crazy tonight. I love being able to see all the same familiar faces."

    Kayla McBride o Junior o Forward

    On the emotions of the game...
    "We definitely felt a little chip on our shoulder. We felt like we were playing for a lot. I think that after they had their run we realized that we just needed to play our game. Skylar did a good job pumping us up at the half. She really brought us together."

    On reaching 1,000 career points...
    "I think it is cool to have an accomplishment like that, but it really doesn't mean too much to me. I want a national championship. Tomorrow I am going to get back into the gym and work twice as hard as I did yesterday."

    Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman

    Opening Statement...
    "It was a very good basketball game. I thought that from the beginning we wanted to come out and do a good job on Skylar [Diggins], but that definitely didn't happen in the first half. She was amazing. So at halftime we talked about trying to keep her in front of us and stopping her in transition. I thought second half we did a good job of doing that. They're a very good basketball team. When you look at the balance with what they do night in and night out every game, they're a very good basketball team. They have a lot of balance and Muffet [McGraw) does a great job of letting them play. They just make plays. I thought our kids really played hard, and I really was hoping we could come in and match their intensity, being senior night here, and all the emotions of having one of the best players to ever play here leave this program. I knew that it would be a very emotional night just in the arena. I thought our players came out and really competed hard first half, and then in the second half we got a little run and got into our pressure and we didn't necessarily turn them over but I thought it kind of slowed them up getting into their offense. We had to guard three or four passes instead of guarding nine passes in the half court. They came out strong second half and made their run early and we just didn't recover. Good teams don't let you recover. We had a freshman point guard out there against a WNBA All-Star. She got some good experience tonight, and we're going to continue to build our program with the players that we have and keep them playing hard."

    On the rebounding differences in each half...
    "I think in the second half they ran two sets that kept their players closer to the basket. Of course, [Natalie Achonwa] sitting out is big. She's a great rebounder and great player so we're not going to discredit that. They're a big, physical basketball team. They have a four and a five that can rebound the basketball so we knew it would be a physical battle down there if they got into that power set."

    On gaining the lead early in the game...
    "We made shots. We hit 47 percent in the first half. That was the key. We made shots and were able to get into our pressure, and second half we didn't shoot that well early so we weren't able to get our pressure set and we were guarding them more in transition. They're a very good team flowing straight into their offense."

    Syracuse Senior Center Kayla Alexander

    On starting the game hot and then cooling off...
    "Honestly in the first half it was just good teamwork. We were looking for each other and my teammates gave me the ball. As far as going through that drought of me missing shots, I should have been going up stronger. Those were misses that should have been points, so I feel like that's on me."

    On the difference in rebounding each half...
    "There was definitely a difference. I feel like that played a role in this game - rebounding and turnovers on our end. I feel like if we had contained those two, it would probably be a different ball game."

     

     

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