March 20, 2012

Recap | Box Score | Notes | Photo Gallery

MARCH 20, 2012


Opening statement by McGraw:
“We knew this game was going to be a challenge. Cal is a great team. They’re a young team who just continued to get better throughout the year and they gave us everything we could handle. I think maybe our experience came through a little bit at the end, but they’re going to be a great team in the future. I was just so pleased with the way we came out in the second half. I thought we ratcheted up the intensity with our defense – played a little more man-to-man, and I thought we were a little more successful at it. And then we were able to attack the basket and get a little run. I think Sky (Diggins) had a couple of points – that three-point play she had I thought was a big play in that stretch.”

Was that as good of a game that Devereaux (Peters)’s played, at least in the second half?

Statement by Muffet McGraw:
“Yeah, she really played well. I thought she was everywhere. A couple of offensive rebounds that she kicked out and we could use another 30 seconds I thought was really key in that stretch. But just to be able to count on her to come up with so many big rebounds – and her assists today I thought were phenomenal, too. But the blocked shots, like Skylar (Diggins) said – we had trouble containing the ball and to have her behind us ready to block a shot was really what helped our defense in the second half.”

Talk about the four-minute, five-steal performance of your team to start the second half. Was that something you told them to come out with? Did you change defenses around, or was it something that just kind of happened because that’s how they are?

Statement by Muffet McGraw:
“We switched defenses at halftime, and we talked about gapping a little bit more, helping out a little bit more, putting a little more pressure on the ball, and then when the drive came, the guards were attacking the ball a little bit more, and I thought that was pretty effective.”

Skylar only had six points at the half, but she finished with 21. But Natalie (Novosel) really carried the team in the first. How great is it having two elite guards that force the other team to guard?

Statement by Muffet McGraw:
“We’ve got three really good guards that can really score, that can get their own shot – they can do so many things. Kayla McBride in the last game, and then today Natalie and Skylar really took over. I think Sky – she knows when it’s time to go, and we have a couple plays that we call for her, and then that’s how she knows that it’s her time. She really, really went to the basket well. We talked about the ball screen at halftime – we need to attack off the ball screen a little bit more, and I thought she was effective. And that three-point play, as I said earlier, was a big key in the second half.”

Can you talk a little bit about the perimeter shooting? Your three-point shooting from the Liberty game and tonight, just how much of a concern that is and why you think you had the numbers you had?

Statement by Muffet McGraw:
“It surprised me a little bit because we’ve shot it a lot this week; we’re playing at home. I thought it would be better. We missed some really open looks, too. I think we’ve had games like that that we’ve struggled with, and then we’ve had games where we’ll go 7-for-16 and shoot it a little bit better. So I’m not worried about it right now. We don’t rely on it as much. I think we really rely on putting it on the floor and trying to attack the baskets, so I think we were smart to stop at nine. We were 0-for-6 I think at halftime. We talked about how we didn’t really want to shoot anymore. And so that was definitely the plan – not to shoot as many in the second half.”


What was halftime like? You guys were 31-31 and I think they had a little bit more momentum than what you guys had, so was anything said during halftime or was it more business-like?

Statement by Devereaux Peters:
“I think it was more business-like. We’re an older team, we’ve been here before, and I think we play a lot better when we keep our composure. We know what we have to do to execute and play our own game, and in the first half we weren’t really playing that well. We knew what we needed to fix, and we just came out and did it.”

Statement by Skylar Diggins:
“There was a lot of communication in the locker room, also – just talking about what we see, things that could work. I think offensively we were just missing shots, but we wanted to step up the defense. I think we made those adjustments at halftime.”

Skylar, when you talk about composure, how do you maintain your composure when you almost get run into the basket stand there?

Statement by Skylar Diggins:
“You want to win, and to win we have to all be together, we have to all be in the game. I think that’s some of our issues in the past – being able to maintain composure. I think we’ve done a great job, and like Dev (Peters) said, we’re an older team now, we’re older players, we’re at home in front of our fans. They did a great job of keeping us excited and ignited tonight and you have to keep that composure, especially for me in particular as a point guard.”

How did you ratchet up the defense at the start of the second half to cause the five steals that you did right away? What consciously went into that?

Statement by Skylar Diggins:
“I think putting more pressure on the ball. In the first half, we weren’t containing the ball at all, and their guards were having their way getting to the basket and dishing and things like that. So we wanted to make sure we did a better job of staying in front of the ball, helping our bigs out a little bit and just stepping up on defense – the intensity part of it. We were getting outworked, and we had to pick up the hustle a little bit. I thought we did a better job in that, particularly in the beginning of the second half.”

Natalie, you guys only had 10 free throw attempts on Sunday (against Liberty). You had 20 (personally) tonight. Just talk about getting to the line and how important it was in the flow of this game.

Statement by Natalie Novosel:
“I think that was an emphasis, especially because of not getting to the line as much (Sunday). And shots weren’t falling for me at first, so I just started attacking the basket, and I was able to get confidence there.


Opening statement by Gottlieb:

“I am so happy and honored and proud to be the coach of this California team. We have a lot of different weapons; we play really hard; we won’t back down. Our players represent themselves and our school in a really impressive way. They have a swag and spirit to them as well what is good for women’s basketball.”

Question: How did the pressure in the second half change?

“We picked (Notre Dame’s pressure) apart a little bit early. They came out and upped the pressure in the second half.”

Question: With everyone on the roster returning, how does next year look?

“It’s telling when we shook hands before the game, Muffet said to me, ‘you have a top ten team next year.’ (Our performance) got our name out there on a national level. It will help us be on (everyone’s) radar. It will help our players to understand where they want to be and the work it takes to exceed (the expectations). We want to be a Notre Dame – a one seed – a two seed. (Our team) clearly has flaws. I don’t want to be good next year simply because other teams graduate players and we don’t. I want to be good next year because we have everyone back and we are better, and that is an exciting thought.”

Question: How much of the second half would you attribute to your team’s lack of experience?

“I thought it was a lot about what (Notre Dame) did. I think Notre Dame feeds off the crowd and gets better. I didn’t feel like our mistakes came from panic. I think it came when the other team was able to do things that rattle you. There is no question that we got a little bit rattled and made some mistakes that changed the tempo of the game at the beginning of the second half.”

Question: Talk about team fighting and not giving up.

“They always believe that we can come back. We believe that when we are not making mistakes that we have some weapons that pose problems for Notre Dame and other teams. I said to them when we were down 13 or 15, ‘we were down more than this against a number-one (Stanford) seed and we took it to overtime.”


Question: What did Notre Dame do differently in the second half?

Statement by Layshia Clarendon:
“They didn’t just steal the ball, we also threw it to them a number of times. We lost our composure. We all had at least one turnover in the first few minutes. It was a learning experience. We had to work to keep our composure while they stayed steady the whole time.”

Question: How did you work to overcome the matchup problem with Devereaux Peters?

Statement by Reshanda Gray:
“We did not box her out. She was going to score regardless, so I didn’t really see a matchup problem.”

Question: Was Notre Dame’s defensive pressure in the second half what caused you to lose composure?

Statement by Layshia Clarendon:
“I’m going to go back to us because we also focus on us at the end of the day, what we’re doing, and how we can do better. We’ve faced pressure all year, we’ve faced zone, and we’ve faced ranked teams. I think it was us more than them taking crazy and quick shots and not staying with how we know how to play.”

Question: What helped your team have a quick start and stay with Notre Dame in the first half?

Statement by Layshia Clarendon:
“They started out pretty early, and we are one of the best zone teams in the country. We’ve faced zone all year from preseason through conference. We were really poised at first and ran our offense well. During the second half, we just panicked because we wanted it so bad. We play with emotion. Everyone was trying to make the home run play. We lost our composure. We have to learn to stay steady and work our offense no matter what.”

Question: How did the crowd factor into the game?

Statement by Reshanda Gray:
“The crowd was definitely a factor because at times it got really loud, and we couldn’t hear each other when calling our plays.”

Statement by Layshia Clarendon:
“It’s exciting playing here. I was smiling the entire time during warm-ups. This environment is awesome. This is not something that happens on the west coast as much. Unless you’re Stanford, you don’t get even close to a sell-out crowd. It was awesome to play here. Sometimes it gets so loud, and you get antsy to score. I don’t think it affected us greatly.”

Question: How did Notre Dame prevent you from being able to throw the ball over the defenders?

Statement by Layshia Clarendon:
“That was where Notre Dame’s pressure affected us in the second half. They started to sag on their defense waiting to see what we were going to do. When you’re playing against a zone, it’s harder to make those passes.”