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Quotes: UConn 83, Duke 61
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 12/17/2013
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Duke Head Coach Joanne P. McCallie
Opening Statement:
“It was an interesting game from our perspective. We didn’t do what we needed to defensively. We didn’t rebound the way we needed to rebound and we showed little patience on offense at critical times. So that cost us a little bit, especially in the first half where the major part of the run was made by Connecticut. I thought [Breanna Stewart] showed why she’s the best player in the country and I thought obviously [Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis] enjoyed her first game back. And we didn’t help matters much because we didn’t locate her and do things we needed to do. So it’s a very good learning experience for us as a team. We’ll go from here.”

On what happened during UConn’s big run in the first half:
“Horrible shot selection, chucking up shots and them converting and us not getting back on defense. We started the game the way we should have started the game, which was attacking and being patient on offense. We had some nice paint scores and some interior things going on. We broke out of that and that’s a very bad mistake to make against a very good transition team and so we fueled their transition and that’s disturbing.”

On Elizabeth Williams struggling in the game:
“They left her open to take those [outside] shots. Elizabeth just needs to continue to work on her shooting, her high-post J and that kind of stuff. If you’re playing around the block area and you’re comfortable there that’s good, but you have to increase your range. So she’s in the process of doing that. She can make those shots, she just didn’t make them tonight, which is too bad. She’s got to get out there and practice them because people aren’t going to play her. You don’t have to guard somebody if they’re not going to be a threat.”

On shooting struggles early on making the team tighter:
“I think we took bad shots. Those threes were bad…off balance, forced. I think we were 1-of-11 or 2-of-11 or whatever we were, but you have to go to the rack and shoot more free throws. If you look at the free throw attempts I mean my God that was an embarrassment. How do you only shoot five free throws in a game? That’s what needed to be happening. We needed to be attacking and driving and creating. It’s okay if people block your shot and stuff, just get in there and force the physical and we didn’t do that. Free throw attempts would have been great to have those in place of just throwing the ball up.”

On bad shot selection being a result of UConn’s defense:
“We definitely didn’t execute as well, but you can clear people out. They were playing man-to-man at the time. You just call a play and just get everyone out of the way. You can take charge of that situation and make something out of nothing so to speak. That’s what we need to do and that’s how we’ll get better. But you have to credit the defense.”

On the officiating with 27 fouls called:
“I can’t say much about that because our team didn’t go to the free throw line. We didn’t force the issue. I think officials have to be sold on what you’re doing out there. I don’t think we quite sold them that we were going to attack and really attack so it’s hard to talk about the actual foul calls.”

On big picture and the future:
“It’s great lessons. We have to own up. Own up, and grow and change and use this. It’s a great opportunity. It’s a December game. It’s very disappointing because we didn’t fight throughout. We fought and then we didn’t fight, then we fought. It wasn’t the consistent fight that we wanted to have as a team. Without question it’s great for us to learn and recognize what we have to do as a group. Plenty of games coming up…I know people like to make a big deal about it because it’s No. 1 and No. 2 and all of that. I think the bigger deal is the Final Four. That’s the biggest deal and trying to pursue a national championship at that level and this helps us in our journey to get better and figure things out. Whether it’s ball movement, whether it’s stops on defense. There are quite a few things we can look at.”

On getting over the hump:
“We had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and none in the second. So to answer your question we better start getting 20 to 25 offensive rebounds. We’d like to get to the free throw line about 25 times a game. Well we got there five times. All those things and really getting after the aggressiveness of the game. I think that’s really important. I don’t like our assist number. Thirteen is horrific. We have players that should get more assists. All across the board our players should get more assists, but that’s about making the extra pass and keep finding each other. Many opportunities were open. When we penetrated they had three or four people on the ball. You had to kick it out and reverse it and we refused to do it. And they actually did a good job of that. There were numerous times in hustle plays where we almost had the ball and they whipped the ball around and found Mosqueda-Lewis in the corner. I think that happened twice. So the reality is it’s those intangibles and those intangibles matter and we didn’t make those kinds of plays. If we had come up with the ball in that particular situation it could have gone a different way. It adds fuel to the fire.”  

Duke Guard Chelsea Gray
On hesitancy with offensive ball movement:
“When we started executing on reversing the ball and playing off of each other is when our runs came. We were getting good looks and we were getting open shots. Some didn’t fall. However, when we would take a one-pass shot or not executing the plays or going through them and staying with our mental focus and focusing on what we needed to do offensively, that’s when it translated to their run.”

On what the team can take away from the loss:
“We didn’t have the mental focus to get the job done.”

On the disappointment of the loss:
“We never like to lose. We didn’t do what we expect to do, plain and simple. They’re another opponent but a loss, we don’t like that at all.”

Duke Forward Haley Peters
On struggling to contain UConn’s Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis:
 “It’s just communicating and knowing a player that good. You have to know where she is every time she’s on the floor and getting out to the corners, and just having a team focus. The two shooters that were talked about were 23 [Mosqueda-Lewis] and 30 [Breanna Stewart]. It’s pretty simple – you just know where they are and be there and get in their face.”

On whether the team was surprised by Mosqueda-Lewis’ performance:
“No. She is a shooter. She’s a good shooter.”

On the biggest lesson learned from the loss:
“There were lapses in our intensity and our energy throughout the game. We do that in other games but we can get away with it in those games. We haven’t pushed each other enough in that, in not letting that happen no matter who we’re playing. When you do that against this team, you’re going to put yourself in a hole.”

On the disappointment of the loss:
“A loss is a loss – doesn’t matter who you’re playing. But it’s disappointing to have all those people come out and not play the way we can play. It’s disappointing because we haven’t done it all year – play the way we can play.”

On whether the large home crowd provided energy or added pressure:
“They absolutely gave us energy, for sure. It was a great crowd. It’s a focus thing. There’s a lot of energy in the building but we just didn’t maintain it for ourselves, with each other and we just didn’t use it in the right way all the time. They were great, the crowd was great.”

Connecticut Head Coach Geno Auriemma
On Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis’ performance:
“I was just going to leave her as a ‘let me just see how it goes and play it by ear.’ If she looks good, then just play her as long as she feels good. And I didn’t have any expectations necessarily of what she would do. We were prepared to go the whole game without her if we had to. But having said that, I don’t think we would’ve won the game the way we won it without her. She’s a pretty special player I think. I think she proved it tonight.”

On getting open looks:
“I think sometimes offense gets way too much credit and defense gets way too much blame. When somebody gets open, they did a pretty good job of getting open and the defense did a lousy job of finding them. It happened to both teams. We didn’t find a couple of their shooters for stretches. Good players eventually get open; you just give them enough time. And the way Duke was playing, we knew that if we could get [Mosqueda-Lewis] moving and especially find Stefanie [Dolson] with the ball, that Stefanie was going to find her. That’s what Stef does; that’s what she’s good at.”

On his team’s performance exceeding his expectations:
“I’ll be honest and say yes. I think I would less than honest if I said I thought we would come in here and win by 20 or so, simply because we haven’t played in a while because of exams. We weren’t sure of what we were going to get from [Mosqueda-Lews] and Morgan [Tuck]. And I thought Duke being at home and they have a bunch of upperclassmen who have been through this a bunch of times … it would be a little bit different. And it was. It was a little bit different. It wasn’t kind of what happened last year at our place. But I was proud of our guys that every time Duke cut it to 11, 12, 13 … somebody made a big play. Somebody made a big shot. I think that’s what makes really good teams; somebody steps up and makes a play when they have to make it.”

On his team’s response to Duke’s second half run:
“You know there were so many runs, so many little runs. There was a stretch in the first half where we didn’t do anything wrong for about 10 minutes. We got the lead up pretty good, and then we didn’t do anything right for about five minutes. Then in the second half even, it seemed like they got every loose ball for a while, and then it seemed like we got every loose ball for a while. We got two All-Americans here – Stefanie Dolson and Kaleena – and I thought they both responded like All-Americans when they needed to. And we got a guy who tells me every day she’s an All-American, but the jury’s still out on her. So we’ve got three players that are pretty unique as opposed to every other team in the country. We have the ability to respond when things like that happen.”

On his team’s run in the first half:
“We talk about this a lot … We talk about you can’t necessarily win a game in five minutes, but you can lose a game in five minutes if you don’t do certain things. And then your body language and then the ways you react to those five minutes, you can lose a game. Somewhere towards the end of the first half and the beginning of the second half, there’s a stretch where you can lose a game. People talk about defense putting pressure, but we have five guys on the floor that can score. So the more we make shots, that kind of offensive pressure helps our defense because now you have to make shots. We’re not going to go five minutes, generally speaking, without scoring. But if we can score enough points in those six minutes, and you don’t, it’s going to be hard to catch up. It’s nothing that we do defensively sometimes. It’s just that it’s not as easy to make jump shots when you’re down 14 as when you’re up 12.”

Connecticut Junior Forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis
On finding her rhythm from the perimeter:
“The only thing I’ve been doing is shooting basically. I was hoping I’d make a couple tonight.”

“I was just trying to go out there and help my team in any kind of way. Whether it was play good defense or hitting a couple shots or whatever the team needed at the time.”

On making key shots:
“That’s something that Coach has been telling me since last year that I need to shoot every shot like it’s the last shot. Shoot every shot like it’s an important one. I’ve been doing that in practice and putting pressure on myself and it helped out tonight.”

Connecticut Senior Center Stefanie Dolson
On how Mosqueda-Lewis helps the offense:
“It makes it a lot easier to run an offense when you have players that can knock down most of the shots that they take. But I think we just do a great job of - when I get the ball in the middle - moving and getting each other open and getting themselves open. [Breanna Stewart] did a great job tonight of getting open and moving around. I just made sure that I could find them and get them the easiest shot possible.

Connecticut Sophomore Forward Breanna Stewart
On playing in high pressure games:
“I think these are the reasons why we come to Connecticut, to play in the big games. They don’t happen all the time, but we know we have a huge target on our back and teams are always going to give us their best run. That’s what you want to do. That’s fun; that’s competitive.”