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    March 23, 2008

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    Notre Dame (24-8) vs. SMU (24-9)
    2:30 p.m. • March 22, 2008 • Mackey Arena
    Final Score: 75-62

    Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
    Opening statement...
    "I thought Ashley Barlow was the player of the game. I thought she was just exceptional in both halves. She made huge plays and got us off to a great start. She almost had a double-double by halftime. She just had an outstanding game. I was really, really pleased with her performance. And I thought Becca Bruszewski was phenomenal off the bench. You don't expect a freshman to show up in the NCAA Tournament and get a career-high, and that's just what she did today. We needed every one of them, all the points, and all the rebounds. She had an outstanding game. And then, the basket that Charel (Allen) hit when it was 57-57 really was the shot that won the game for us. I don't think they ever got the lead back after that, and that's what your senior leader is going to do. "

    On the 49-26 rebounding advantage ...
    "We went into our first practice after losing in the Big East Tournament determined that we were going to be a better rebounding team. That was something that we didn't do well in the Big East Tournament. We've worked on that pretty much nonstop for the past two weeks, and I think we really showed today what we are capable of doing. So, I was really pleased to see those numbers."

    On the ability to pull away in the final four minutes ...
    "In our timeouts we talked about how we had to do it on defense. At that point, even though our lead had gone, we still did have the lead, it was just a lot smaller than it was in the first half. We talked about how we just had to keep playing great defense. If we could play defense and rebound, that was going to be the key to game. We wouldn't have to score as many points. I thought we got a little tight when they made their run. Shots weren't dropping. Even though we were rebounding, we still weren't scoring as much. I thought defensively -- and I'm very proud to say that we've worked on that for the last two weeks -- and finally our defense has really come up big for us."

    Notre Dame guard Ashley Barlow
    On playing well in Mackey Arena ...
    "I think it is because of my family. Mackey Arena is so close that a lot more of them can be here. My parents and grandparents come to every game in South Bend, but my whole family can come to this game."

    On disciplined offense...
    "We need to know the time clock situation. When time is running down and it's a close game you need to know when to take shots and when not to. I feel we did a good job of that tonight."

    Notre Dame forward Becca Bruszewski
    On her role in the game...
    "I just set screens and rolls. I tried to get offensive rebounds, crash the boards and help out my teammates as best as I could."

    On playing with an injured hand ...
    "It didn't really affect me that much, maybe I could have grabbed a couple more rebounds, but otherwise it was pretty good."

    Notre Dame guard Charel Allen
    On team spark ...
    "We had a big play with 4:21 left in the game; we fed off of Tulyah Gaines' energy when she took the charge. We just took off from there."

    On doing the little things to win ...
    "Our goals are always to get offensive rebounds and get to the foul line as best we can."

    SMU Head Coach Rhonda Rompola
    Opening statement...
    "My thought is 49-26; that's my thought. That's the rebounding edge that Notre Dame had. Quite honestly, they were a force on the boards, they were more physical than us, they outhustled us. They got a lot of second, third and sometimes fourth opportunities. When you give up that many offensive rebounds, you aren't going to win many ball games. I thought even their guards did a good job of following the rebounds. The other thing is taking care of the basketball. We worked on it all week, but, when it's all said and done, you've got be aggressive, make good decisions and meet your passes. I thought the first 10 to 12 minutes, we played like a very inexperienced team and Notre Dame played like a team that has been to the NCAA Tournament."

    On running out of energy after coming back from a 17-point deficit...
    "I felt like we had some great momentum coming out after we tied it up. This is the NCAA Tournament and as far as I'm concerned you can't run out of energy. We expended a lot of energy, but there was only three and a half minutes to go. We just had some huge mental errors. We had our chances at the end and we didn't make the most of them. You've got to make the plays at the end of the game. We played a little bit shaky at the end; we played like a team that was inexperienced."

    On the efforts of her team, especially the five seniors on the roster ...
    "As I told our kids and especially our seniors, we should be very proud. We, as coaches, are proud of what they've done and what they've accomplished. These seniors have built a heck of a resume at SMU. They've built the expectations and this is a great experience for our younger players. Winning is an addiction; once you get it, you want it more. We need our younger players to get a taste of this. We would like to be going to the next round and playing Tuesday, but our younger players learned, especially when you get to this level, that you've got to get everybody showing up. This is a learning experience. When our seniors leave (Mackey Arena), they should be proud of what they accomplished."

    SMU Center Janielle Dodds
    On Notre Dame's rebounding...
    "They rebounded, that's what they do best. I don't think we had enough people crashing and they didn't really have to block out. Everything we knew that could hurt us that they did, they did.

    On turnovers...
    "It's frustrating because we had a lot of crucial turnovers. I was waiting for our team to calm down and collect ourselves. I thought we would, but we didn't and it cost us."

    On the game...
    "We managed to come back and tie the game numerous times and I give our team credit for that. We fought hard, it's not like we laid down and let them run all over us. We didn't come out and play like the team we're capable of being. For the players that are still left, they know what it's like to get here and I hope they use it in the future to motivate them to get back to this spot next year."

    SMU Guard Jillian Samuels
    On turnovers...
    "We needed to hurry up, fight big and calm down. It seemed as if we never calmed down and it seemed as if we were defeated. We kept fouling them and letting them get 'and ones'. We didn't block out, we kept turning the ball over, and just made dumb mistakes. I felt we needed to hurry up and make a move to come back. We should have calmed down and played like we know we can play."

     

     

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