March 8, 2012
Southern Miss Head Coach Joye Lee-McNelis
"What a ball game. Again as we went through the month of February, it all started right here in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse when we bounced back after several losses in the month of January, and we came back in here and got a huge victory over the University of Memphis. We've talked this entire time that we were fine tuning in Fantastic February to be able to March in March. We talked to them about that we were the only team in conference play to have won in this building, and that we were going to make this our house, and we were going to play with tremendous amount of poise and belief that we were going to protect our home court. I think this Lady Eagle team definitely did that today. They were absolutely poised. They played with a lot of confidence. They played with a lot of pride."
"I think when you look at what has happened to us against UCF, they're a very good basketball team. They're a very well coached team. UCF has taken it to us and kicked our behind the previous two meetings. And took no names. They just dominated the entire game during that time. Actually they've beaten us seven times. But this Lady Eagle team played with a chip on their shoulder with revenge and played as if this was our house to play and be able to get a victory today."
"We also set goals. We knew that Jamierra (Faulkner) had to orchestrate our team; had to lead our team; had to truly be the coach on the floor for 40 minutes. We talked about how important Tanecka Carey was and that she's going to get her points; she's going to help us. But the other players on this team are the ones that have to step up. I've challenged Sedreka Plummer and Ance Celmina all week that they have to get 10 and 10. That's your focus, 10 points and 10 rebounds. That's got to be your motto the whole tournament."
"We had to have a missing person at the guard spot that has had ups and downs for us but who has been a key for us in Fantastic February and that was Niesha Pierce. Niesha Pierce truly was a difference maker in our game today. Truly a difference maker. Her sister Nitesha (Pierce), five charges, she took five charges. We talked with Nitesha that defensive intensity is going to give us opportunity to get easy baskets and take away baskets from them. That's how important that is. She did a great job of doing that."
"So we talked about how other players other than just Jamierra and Tanecka had to step up and be different makers. That happened tonight. Niesha Pierce was a difference maker. Sedreka Plummer was a difference maker. Nitesha Pierce was a difference maker. And I think that is huge because this time of the year it's all about team because you don't key on one or two players. But I think that was the key in our success."
"Defensively our focus was 10 (Aisha Patrick) and 12 (Kayli Keough) for them (UCF). They're outstanding players. Our goal for 10 (Patrick) was she's the leading guard rebounder in Conference USA. We have to keep her off the offensive glass. She dominated the offensive glass with us playing them the two previous meetings. We did a great job. I don't think she got an offensive board tonight at all. Again 12 (Keough), our focus was to go at her to try to get her in foul trouble and try to keep her on the bench a little bit. I think our team did a very good job of that."
The last time you were in this gym you ended up turning the ball over 32 times. For a long time it was four deep in the second half and wound up being 12. Talk a little about the progress made there...
"That's our season low in turnovers as well. I think again it goes back to our back court and Jamierra Faulkner and Nitesha (Pierce) and Tanecka Carey of being able to handle that pressure. I also felt that Niesha (Pierce) was able to help out as well. But I think the inbounder that was inbounding the ball, which was Nitesha most of the time, did a great job in her decision making in getting her ball at the right time on the cuts"
Looking at UTEP, what's got to happen tomorrow?...
"They're good. They're the No. 1 team in the league. Gloria Brown owned us when we played them. She was 16 or 18 from the free throw line. She attempted basket after basket, and we didn't guard her we just fouled her, and she just went to the foul line and was unbelievable. I think the thing that makes UTEP special, and I think Gloria Brown is extremely special player, but I think they're truly a team. They have different players that are able to make plays. They're a great team. They have a lot of depth. They have a lot of experience. We'll be challenged again tomorrow. We're the underdog. We've got to go out and play with the same poise and believe that we are playing in our house."
Jamierra Faulkner, Southern Miss
Talk about how it played out on the court today...
"We basically just stuck to our game plan to lock down 10 (Aisha Patrick) and 12 (Kayli Keough). My coach said get 12 out of the game and box out 10. That's what we did. We pushed the ball in transition. We scored 12 fastbreak points, so we just kept to our game plan."
#22 Niesha Pierce, Southern Miss
"It seemed like there was a lot of good ball movement out there. It seemed like whoever was open was getting the ball."
"It all starts with determination and will. Getting in the gym and getting in your shots. I know coach has been counting on me to step up and get some extra shots because I know they need me. I know without me and of course the other players we wouldn't be able to get it done."
UCF Head Coach Joi Williams
"Well obviously, very disappointed for us. Southern Miss did a great job, I credit them. They had a solid game plan. I felt like we did too. The key came when we didn't execute ours. I feel bad for our seniors, Ashia (Kelly), Aisha (Patrick), and Racine (Davis). But at the same time, they have been the most successful senior class in Conference USA so far with two championships under their belt. They really have done a tremendous job throughout their careers, so I couldn't be more proud of a group of seniors, with the way they played for four years."
Coach, you got within six points twice, but couldn't get over the hump. What do you think the struggles came from?...
"The struggles came when we didn't get stops on the defensive end. I thought we did a good job when we got to within six. You know, they've got a lot of fire power. We knew that. The guards are outstanding in terms of being athletic and quick, and we didn't stay in front of the basketball, so we would tighten up the score and then we gave up some easy baskets. You can't do that against a good team or any team in this league at tournament time. That's kind of what hurt us along with the turnovers. We just had too many turnovers."
Comment on the turnovers. Was it nerves or anxiety, or was it just their ball pressure?...
"I tell them, it was a combination. They played good defense, but we did not make good decisions I think. And we talked about at the beginning being nervous or having that anxiety is normal, but we need to turn that into positive energy. I thought our energy was good. We just didn't play as smart as we needed to at times and Southern Miss made us pay on our mistakes and we knew that they could. It's a tough lesson to learn but I know that our kids are going to be better for it, the ones that will be back next year."
Aisha Patrick, UCF
Pat, you had those two driving layups to bring you to within six. Did it feel like you were back in it?...
"I think it did feel like we got back into it, but like coach said we weren't able to make consecutive stops and that's what hurt us."
Talk about your years at UCF...
"It's been a great run for the past four years. I hate to see it end this way, but it has been a good run, hanging two banners. And like coach said, our senior class was the winningest class at UCF. So, it does feel good for the past two years, but I hate to end it like this."
|Follow USM Women's Basketball:||Follow @SouthernMissWBB|