March 22, 2009
Junior G/F Lauren Beck
On the Montana fan section: “It’s great I honestly did not know that many people would come. We always have a great crowd at home and for them to travel to Seattle is awesome. It really shows how much support Lady Grizzly basketball gets.”
The biggest difference between the first and second half: “I think that the biggest difference was they turned up their man press. We didn’t really know how to deal with it. The way we played the first half was great and it will be a great way to lead into next year. As for the second half it will just be something that we have to forget about.”
Sophomore F Jessa Linford
On the coach’s halftime speech: “He really just told us to keep doing the same things we were in the first half. We were breaking their press in the first half. In the second half we just got flustered and started throwing away passes. It all seemed to go their way in the second half. I guess there were just too many times for us to come back.”
On the performance of Shavonte Zellous: “We knew that she was a good player and she could hit jump shots, but we also knew that she could not win the whole game for them. She scored a lot of points but I don’t think she won the game for them. We did not have an answer for her.”
On the Montana fan following: “It was really nice to have a lot of fans here. We expected a lot of fans to come from home and we have a lot of fans in Seattle. It was nice to have a lot more fans than we did last year in Albuquerque. I think it did a lot to help us in the first half. In the second half it didn’t do as much to help us.
Head Coach Agnus Berenato
General Comments: “I’m just really proud of the University of Pittsburgh and the way they handled themselves today. I thought that the first half was tough and it was obvious that we had some jitters. When we got in there at halftime we talked about our defense and I think you saw a remarkable difference. One thing that I am very proud of is that as a team we tied a NCAA record of holding an opponent to only 10 points in the second half. A couple of other things: Shavonte Zellous became the all-time leading scorer in women so we want to go ahead and say congratulations to her. Another record is that Shavonte Zellous is the only male or female in Pitt history to score over 700 points in a season. I’m just so proud of the University. It was a great win for us.”
On if the upset came into their minds: “We never even thought about an upset. Actually, I think we played pretty well in the first half. I think it was a great first half of the game. We expected Montana to come out like that. Montana is a veteran team. They have been to the tournament a heck of a lot more times than the University of Pittsburgh. This is our third time in the tournament. I think there have only been three times in Robin’s career that he hasn’t been to the tournament. It is a veteran team. I mean they’re all seniors. We expected that competitiveness, with 3:44 to go in the first half there was a timeout and we were down six. I said to the team, the last three we have to go into the locker room with a lead - I don’t know how that’s going to happen - but we need to go in with a lead. We had just scored four points, literally in the last 20 seconds and then there was a timeout. We went into the locker room with a lead of one, 26-25. In the last four minutes we scored 10 points. In the first sixteen minutes we scored 15. It has nothing to do with us thinking we might be upset. I just think we made some adjustments with our defense I thought that they were really prepared for us. I think that our halftime adjustments with our press were really impressive and we took advantage of that. We knew that Morales and Rogers were their big shooters. We were really upset that Rogers had eight and we challenged our team. Morales had seven assists and six points. She literally was involved with every play in the first half. We have Rogers scoreless in the first half and Morales with one more assist and five points. That’s where leadership comes in and I think my assistants did a great job with that.”
On how fun the team is when pressing: “We’ve really enjoyed coaching this team; it’s a lot of fun. Even though maybe the first half wasn’t fun for you guys, it was fun because we like our job every day. It’s just a great opportunity for us to challenge them. They have tremendous chemistry. We were able to score 24 points off of our press compared to zero points off of turnovers by Montana. That’s fun and exciting. I think that the fans like that.
On Shavonte being able to carry the team: “Shavonte is an extraordinary player; she’s a special student-athlete. I think she’s really elevated her game to All-American status. If you look at her tonight with 31 points, nine rebounds, several steals and only one turnover. That’s pretty impressive in a NCAA game. Everywhere she went there were one or two players. She elevates above them. Some of her most impressive things were her rebounds, to go in there and get some rebounds from a dead stop on the ground to elevate up that was really fun to watch.”
On the second half press/defense: “Desire, it’s something we’ve really been working on in the last ten days. But I thought that Chelsea Cole and Taneisha Harrison did a really good job coming off the bench; they really gave a lot of spark to the team. I think that for us as a team, our role-players play a big part. When Chelsea was out, Shayla covered the front of the press and the front is the key. They’re the key to it, they’re the ones that are saying trap or don’t trap. So I just think they did a terrific job. I think too, we practice that every day against each other. When we practice it against each other we’re used to presses, we’re used to people pressing us, we’re using to pressing each other every day that’s something we work day in and day out. Honestly I don’t know that Montana has seen that type of press. Understand that they played Maryland early on and they said that they were really prepared for us because they played Maryland and that’s great but we beat Maryland by 30. That’s pretty amazing, Maryland’s a number 1 seed. We beat Maryland with that press. So it’s something we practice. I just think whenever practice meets opportunity usually you’ll be successful.
On the game’s atmosphere: “We’re a lot closer to Montana than Pitt. I really love my fans, they’re awesome and I heard them loud and clear. I think it was an awesome atmosphere. I wish we were only eight hours away; we would have had 6000 people too. I was disappointed that they put the students with the red chests and the Grizzlies way up high. That’s what college basketball is all about. I think if you’re close you have to have that support. When we host it we have that kind of support. We’re really happy there were Montana and Gonzaga people. The worst thing to do is play in an empty gym. That doesn’t do any good for our game, it doesn’t do any good for TV. We don’t really care who’s fans are in the game as long as they’re in the gym. We hope we converted your fans to cheer for Pitt. We feel that anyone who can experience good basketball, today was good basketball. We set a record that we had our lowest turnovers of the season. If you want to be low in turnovers it’s March 21st. That’s amazing at that pace we were playing. Montana’s a phenomenal defensive team, they’re third in the nation at field goal defense. We did a pretty good job against a really phenomenal defensive team. One of the things we did say was let’s take this crowd out of it.
Guard, Shavonte Zellous
On carrying the offense in the first half: “Our offense was struggling and being the leading scorer of the team I just put the team on my back and helped us to get those points. I think my teammates came along in the first half also contributed. In the second half it wasn’t just me, Shayla Scott came up with some big points and Xenia and Sophronia came up with a big three. The first-half I just put the team on my shoulders and helped us get through the half until the second half.
Sophomore Guard Shayla Scott
On the second half defense: “It’s very fun whenever you can get on a role defensively getting a lot of stops. That creates your offense, we had eight steals and that really helped us with our offense just getting energized. Having Montana call a timeout just really gives you that extra umph to keep on pressing and get those steals. I think that’s something that we drive off of is our defense.
On the press in the second half: “Whenever you’re running into a trap and you see the look on their face of, ‘Uh what am I supposed to do now?’ it makes you feel good and I think that just helped us defensively. We just want to keep taking the ball from them and trapping them and scoring on offensive.”
Senior Guard Xenia Stewart
On the first half: I think in the first half Montana gave us trouble with, it wasn’t just what they were doing on offense it was what we were doing on defense we had breakdowns in communications. They mainly scored on wide open shots and wide open layups, we weren’t fouling as much they were just hitting their wide open shots like they should. I think our communication failed on the defensive side which gave us trouble. We were missing a lot of shots on the offensive end which kind of got us down a little bit but our defense got us back into it once we got everything together.
On the difference between the first and second half: “Oh yes definitely. After Louisville we worked on having a presence because coach said we have to have a presence, being aggressive and always on the attack. We felt that we did have that in the beginning and we’ve always wanted our beginning to be like our second half. We try to set the tone of the game and make sure that we come out on top.”