Q.Tiffany, were you just a little fresher or more motivated in the second half having sat for so long in the first? Tiffany Clarke:I would say I was more motivated, more focused, ready to play.My team needed me and I needed to be there for them.I would say I was more focused and ready to play.
Q.People talk about how difficult it is to beat a team three times in one season.You beat Mississippi State three times in one season.How did you get it done again tonight? Hannah Tuomi:We already beat them twice, that gave us the upper hand in that aspect.Obviously at this point in the season, with any team in the SEC, you can't take anyone lightly. I think that since we played them twice, we knew their personnel, we knew what we had to do.In the second half, we really refocused on what we needed to do, get done.I think that's how we beat them for the third time, so. THE MODERATOR:Tiffany, your thoughts? Tiffany Clarke:It's always hard to do.I feel like we fought through it.We knew what we had to do.We had the game plan and the will to do it.We knew what was on the line.We were focused.
Q.Tiffany, I assume you knew you weren't going back in with the two fouls in the first half.What do you do on the bench to stay in the game at that point? Tiffany Clarke:I just let it not be about myself.I don't focus on myself 'cause it's a team sport.So I just decided -- I knew I wasn't going to go back in, I knew I had to be there for my team to cheer and keep them motivated, ready to play, and energetic.
Q.What did not having Tiffany in the first half, what kind of difference did that make? COACH BALCOMB:Especially on offense, I thought we just took too many outside shots.We didn't get the ball inside.I felt like we were relying too much on the outside shot. They do a really good job of doubling in the post, coming in from weak side quickly on Steph.They had done that before.I thought Steph and Hannah with their footwork got them low defensively and we were able to get it in from the wing.For Steph we got it in from the top and they got in there and doubled.We relied too much on the outside perimeter shot.We talked about that at halftime.
Q.The way Tiffany was playing the second half, how did you like the way she responded having to sit so much in the first? COACH BALCOMB:I thought it was great.It's very hard to do what Tiffany did.We talk a lot about team focus, cheering, what it means to be a great teammate on the bench.Not to be selfish, think about yourself, feel sorry for yourself, those kinds of things, that's what we teach.You could tell that's what Steph was focused on.I think she did a great job with it. I told her at halftime, You got a lot more energy than everybody else.We should see it.She didn't just bring energy, she brought a toughness.She rebounded.She defended.She scored.I thought she brought a mental and physical toughness that was hard to fight through sitting so long in the first half. Like the question asked earlier, she hadn't done that all season so I didn't know what to expect.
Q.Mississippi State was active on the offensive glass.How was your team able to keep that from being more harmful to you? COACH BALCOMB:There's two reasons they had 22 rebounds offensively.She missed a lot of shots is one.They had a lot of opportunities to get offensive rebounds.They also took 23 threes.Long shots cause long rebounds.We didn't do a good enough job boxing out, especially the shooter.The person that shot it chased the rebound a lot.While we're in the air, which you shouldn't leave the ground on a shooter, we're in the air, they chased. I thought they did a good job of kicking back out when they got offensive rebounds.That's when they got good open looks from three and didn't knock them down.It could have hurt us a lot more.
Q.Looking ahead to tomorrow, it's not a long layoff, how do you get your team prepared to take on Kentucky? COACH BALCOMB:I think one of the things my leaders know, Hannah and Jence, we've been successful in tournaments because they know they have to fight through and be mentally and physically tough the next day and play the next day. I don't think that will even enter into their minds.They know what it takes tournament time and how to prepare for that.The rest will follow that lead.