April 5, 2009

Recap |  Notes


AMY YAKOLA:  I am pleased to be joined at the podium by Louisville head coach Jeff Walz as well as student athletes Candyce Bingham, Angel McCoughtry and Becky Burke.

Coach, when you're ready, let's have an opening statement.

COACH WALZ: Thank you. Well, I'm not sure what to say. Just a group of kids in that locker room that I challenged at halftime as much as I could have challenged a group. I told Angel McCoughtry it was the worst I've seen her play. She was an embarrassment.

And that's the way we do things in our program, we're honest. And she came out in the second half and played the way she's supposed to play, and I'm so proud of her, and Candyce Bingham sitting next to me, she played for allevery second she was on the floor she played.

It was a game that we just had to dig down. I thought we did a good job in the first half of defending when we got them in the half court. But, unfortunately, they scored on transition point after point, and that was just killing us. So it was just a crazy game. And I gotta give a lot of respect to Oklahoma and Coach Coale. Those kids came out and battled, too. It's one of those you hate to see anyone lose, but we're really excited about things, and we're playing on Tuesday.

AMY YAKOLA: Questions for the student athletes.

Q. Angel, how are you feeling? Holding your heart?

ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY: I'm feeling great. Gosh, nobody expected us to be here right now. It feels so good to prove everybody wrong. I'm not going to call anybody out this time. But I'm so proud of these girls. And we believed. Halftime we were down. That shows a lot of heart to come back and play against this Oklahoma team who have a lot of great players and to come out with the win. It's a lot of heart right there.

Q. As a follow up, Candyce, you talk about those last free throws and the last couple 10 seconds or so in the game?

CANDYCE BINGHAM: Well, I am a little mad that I missed the last one. But Mo hustled and she tipped the ball, which took a couple of seconds off. But, I mean, it was great, when the Oklahoma playerswe went in and out, we were so excited. So like Angel said, this team showed a lot of heart. I mean, we did not give up and we believed in every single person and Becky came out and hit big shots. It was a great team win.

Q. What was going through your mind, Angel, when you saw that last shot in the air?

ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY: I said, oh, Lord, I said, I need to be over there. And all I could do was just pause and watch and pray and hope that it didn't go in, because if they made that, that's another Rutgers game for us, type game. And that would have been devastating. But at the same time I would have had no regrets, and I felt like we all laid it on the line. I've had a great season and no complaints.

Q. Could you talk about the first nine shots you guys missed in the game and what was going on and what you were feeling as you're getting into a hole there?

ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY: Well, I think that just shows you that we're not aliens, we're human. And I'm so glad to know that we are human. But you know what, they played great defense. I think we just had those jitters that we just had to relax and get out of. And I think it took us to the second half to get out of it, which is sad. But we cannot allow that next game. We gotta come out strong for the next game.

Q. Angel, I want to follow up a little bit and talk about Oklahoma's defense in the first half and specifically Whitney Hand. I think people would look at an All American being defended by a freshman and think that that might be an easier task than it turned out to be. She really battled a lot, especially in that first half.

ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY: Yeah, she's the heart and soul of that team and a freshman isn't going to start for no reason. She hit three 3s on us, and, I mean, our job was really to contain her, because she makes that team go. And I totally commend Oklahoma. They're a great team. And Courtney Paris is a great friend of mine, and I really respect her. So I just had to like settle down and just take my time. Second half I said to myself, you know what, we got this, let's just take our time, do what Coach asked us to do because we weren't following the game plan in the first half. Once we followed Coach's game plan, then things started going our way. So we believe you now, Coach (laughter).

Q. Candyce, what was the plan to stop? They have such great players, what were you trying to do to slow them down in there?

CANDYCE BINGHAM: Well, we were trying to locate Hand and obviously we didn't do a good job of that in the first half. Then just when Courtney Paris got on the low block to double them, and just trying to keep them off the boards, and they got some really quick guards, so just kind of tried to contain them, too.

Q. Becky, what were you trying to do against Whitney, particularly in the second half, and the two 3s you hit, you guys just throw from the outside, talk about those shots you made.

BECKY BURKE: In the second half we played a little claw and one or I mean claw and two and box and ones. And I was on Hand. These guys had to get their screens, just stay on each other, try to let her not let her touch the ball as much as possible.

And as far as my shots, I wasn't hitting anything, but in Raleigh I got a little upset when I wasn't hitting shots so Coach got on me. I was going to stay positive and kept shooting because that's what I'm out there to do is to shoot and I eventually I knew one was going to go in. And I'm glad a couple went in at the end there.

Q. Candyce, can you talk about what was the feeling in being in the middle of that celebration there? And you've had a lot of celebrations this year, but this one is to go to the final game.

CANDYCE BINGHAM: Again, I'm kind of speechless. But, I mean, it feels great. Knowing that we were down 12 at halftime and we always looked to Angel and she didn't even have a good first half. But to know that we were still pretty much in the game.

I mean, we didn't even play a great first half. We were only down 12. So just to know everybody came together and we played a good second half. I mean, it was a really good feeling. And nobody believed in us, so that makes it even better.

Q. Candyce, what did Coach say to you about the free throws before you took them, if anything? What did he say in the last huddle? And just being from Louisville and having Louisville play in this game, how did it make you feeling?

CANDYCE BINGHAM: He just winked at me and said knocked them down and smiled. And I'm sorry I missed that second one. What was your second question?

Q. Being from Louisville.

CANDYCE BINGHAM: It's great being from Louisville and being a part of this. Words can't describe how I feel right now.

Q. Angel, during the first half, there's something that played on the big screen and each of the players were shouting out little things about this team and one of the comments was Cinderella Team. What's your response to that now?

ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY: I wouldn't really say we're Cinderella, because I think we're just as good as any of these teams. Even though I was mad about the commercial. They're going to have to change that for the next one, okay? I mean, they were spoiling us from getting a national championship, too.

But I wouldn't think of us as a Cinderella, we're just as good as any of those teams and we want to be considered just as good as those teams, even though we weren't.

Q. Angel and Candyce, if it is Connecticut that you're playing, given the two previous games, what kind of a different mindset do you have to take into this one?

ANGEL MCCOUGHTRY: Well, we know Connecticut is a great team. And a big upset, Big East, and if we have two Big East teams in there it's really good for our conference. We're glad to have two Big East teams in the national championship. We have a lot of respect for Geno and his program, and we're just going to come out, play hard. We know what to expect. We played them twice, we're going to come out and play hard and hope to win.

CANDYCE BINGHAM: UConn is a good team. If they do come out and win, we'll just approach it like any other game. Coaches will put a good game plan together and our job will be to execute it.

AMY YAKOLA: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. It's easy when you've got the stage that we're playing on tonight to forget that these are very young ladies we're talking about here. Talk about the emotion of your players. I'm thinking about the block that Angel got and her reaction and the anger that we saw in Byrd's face when she picked up her fourth foul, and how you kind of used that to your advantage without letting it get out of control in a situation like this.

COACH WALZ: We are on a huge stage. And I told the kids when they came out for the first hour, when the court opened, to just kind of stop and take four or five minutes to look around and enjoy it, because it's an opportunity that we hope to get back here many times. But I've got two great seniors on this team. This is it for them.

So I wanted to make sure they really soaked it all in and realized what we've done. And we play with emotion all season. We do a pretty good job of trying to corral it in to make sure it doesn't get overboard.

That's why I took Angel out in the first half. I knew her emotion was getting the best of her. And I sat her down, you know? And I thought after she came out, then she went back in, I thought she started to let things come to her more.

Q. Just talk about your emotion, what you were thinking as Mo tried to get thatkind of took a little time there for them to get the ball and then when the shot was in the air?

COACH WALZ: Monique did an outstanding job. I thought Mo came in and played her tail off, especially when Keshia picked up that fourth foul. She was doing most of the work on Courtney Paris.

And I thought Mo was going to be able to grab that thing and if they could have got it they're going to foul her and we're back at the line. But the one thing that concerns you about that is exactly what happened to us, is Mo is out there scrambling for it and my other four decided to watch her.

And Oklahoma gets the ball, throws it up the floor and we've got nobody within about eight feet of her. And she got a great look. And it was one of those all game, when we went our triangle and 2, I was going to make Stevenson beat us. And she had some clean looks, and she made a big 3 late. When that shot went up, I did think it was going in because it looked good from where I was sitting.

Q. There's a guy from Louisville named Ali who had a Rope a Dope strategy. Was that a little bit at least the way the game started, do you think? You think you maybe got Oklahoma lulled a little bit?

COACH WALZ: That's not exactly the way I scripted it, I will tell you that. But I told my staff before the game started: I was concerned about the first five minutes of the game. If we could stay within if we could stay within the first five minutes I felt good about things.

And they were up I think 11 0. And at half we go in 34 22. So we're only trailing by one after that first five minutes of the half. I felt good about things. I told our kids if we'll follow the game plan, we have a chance to win. And we came out in the second half and followed it and knocked down some shots and was more patient at the offensive end. So I promise you on Tuesday I hope we don't come out like that.

Q. Jeff, again, if it is UConn that you play Tuesday night, how do you, I don't know if convince is the right word, but how do you take these girls into that game knowing what's happened in the two previous games?

COACH WALZ: Well, you know, it's one of those, you're playing for the national championship on Tuesday night. So it doesn't matter what the scores have been in the past. We have to come out and play. Our game at UConn, you know, we played competitively for 12 minutes, which is encouraging.

So we've got to just look at some of that and take the positive from it. And our game in the Big East finals, they got us right from the start. It's the same thing, I told my staff at that one, too: First five minutes is going to be crucial. And they really took it to us, and we missed some shots that you have to make if you want to compete with a team like that. Because they're a special team.

Q. What was your focus during the halftime message and also did you change anything defensively in the second half?

COACH WALZ: No, I can't repeat what the focus was. To be honest with you, I told them I went in there. I just said, If you all want to play your own game, that's fine, and then we'll pack up and go home.

You know, because we put a game plan together as a staff. And I thought it was a solid one. And I told them, If you want to come out here in the second half and compete and follow our game plan, tell me.

And they're all like, Yeah, we will, we will. And I thought we did a great job. We held them to a 27 percent shooting in the second half compared to 42 in the first.

Q. Coach, you took two timeouts early in the first half. The first I think at 11 0 didn't seem to work, then called another one at 16 2 which I think was the low point. What happened in that second timeout that kind of turned things around?

COACH WALZ: You know, I tried to talk to them about their body language. Deseree' Byrd, who has been a leader for us the entire tournament, was starting to show frustration at the point. When she starts to show that it rubs off on everybody.

I tried to calm her down. I tried to calm Angel down. Candyce was really the only one that stepped up the entire night and played. And we had some good shots. I mean, Keshia Hines who played her butt off gets 10 boards and 19 minutes of play. She air balled a 1 footer. We couldn't have gotten her any closer.

I knew it was just tightness. It was jitters. So I was going to burn them off. I had to, just to try and get our team calmed down. And I just am really, really proud how we responded.

Q. You're talking about how you felt sort of at halftime, did you draw back to 2006 when you were actually in worst shape against Duke in that title game with Maryland?

COACH WALZ: No, you know what, I didn't even think about that at all. It was just one of those that I felt good that we were only down 12, because we could have been down 20.

So I felt good about things, because when we got them in the half court, we actually guarded them. The problem was their transition game was killing us. And then we lose Whitney Hand three times in the first half and she hits three 3s and then we hold her I think she got two points in the second half at the free throw line, because I thought that kid was the key to their team. And we really contained her. And then that kind of stopped their offense from going.

Q. What do you think the key was to limiting Courtney Paris's touches?

COACH WALZ: We did a great job of playing in front of her. We had help coming from the backside. That's all we did all night. We talked about it. We worked on it for four days. And that's why I was so upset in the first half because we spent four days on a game plan, and I promise you, I guarantee you half the fans out there were wondering what we had done for four days, because it was embarrassing.

Q. You had a couple of freshmen and you have so many young players coming up and doing things in such a magnitude of a game. What accounts for that and these freshmen being able to make the plays they're making?

COACH WALZ: It's a group of freshmen I told them when they came in I wasn't going to treat them like freshmen. You know, it was going to be tough. And it's been a tough haul for some of them. But they've gotten a lot tougher over this past three months.

And Becky Burke is one, you know, she missed a 3 and coming out of the timeout she goes, Coach, I'm going to make one. I said, I know you are, keep shooting them. She went back and hit back to back from that corner that really gave us a lift. And Monique Reid played so well for us. You know, we just got kids I told them, everybody has a role and they're starting to believe if they do their role we have a chance to win.

AMY YAKOLA: Thank you, Coach.

AMY YAKOLA: I'm joined by Coach Sherri Coale as well as student athletes Courtney Paris, Ashley Paris, and Danielle Robinson.

Coach, when you're ready, any opening statement.

COACH COALE: I'd like to congratulate Louisville. Their effort in the second half was extraordinary. They were tough and gutty. They made plays when they needed to. And I thought they outworked us in the second half, I really did. But I'm really proud of our kids. It's very, very difficult to get to this point in the season and to have an opportunity to play on this stage as a reflection of their effort and their investment in one another throughout the year, and I'm very proud of the season we had.

AMY YAKOLA: Questions for the student athletes.

Q. Courtney and Ashley, talk about the second half and the struggle just trying to get into an offense and trying to get something to go. Did you feel like you were getting the same kind of shots and they just weren't falling?

COURTNEY PARIS: I just felt like they came out with a lot more energy than we did. And we were relaxed. And I don't know, we just didn't execute as well as we should have.

ASHLEY PARIS: Yeah, I felt like they came out with intense on defense and had a little bit of a different defensive scheme. We got some great passes from D Rob and the other girls and some of them just didn't drop and we missed some chippies.

Q. Danielle and Ashley, when Courtney went out in the first half last three or four minutes, you guys played well and expanded the lead. She had to go out the first three or four minutes in the second half and that's when Louisville made their comeback. What was not going on in the second half? You guys were playing well without her in the first half but didn't play well in the second half.

DANIELLE ROBINSON: I think some of it was just blockouts, something they've been preaching to us all year. And we just didn't make it happen.

I mean, Angel got some great rebounds and we turned the ball over a couple times to start the second half. And that just gave the momentum to them.

ASHLEY PARIS: Yeah, Courtney came out. We came out, Courtney got her third foul pretty quick. And they crashed and got a ton of offensive rebounds, which is just obviously a momentum snapper for us. And missed some chippies and turned the ball over.

Q. Courtney, can you tell us what your emotions were in those last five or six seconds or your thoughts, not your emotions, your thoughts. Did you think Nyeshia's shot was going to go in?

COURTNEY PARIS: Yeah, I thought it was a great shot. Rim to rim and came out. I thought it was really courageous of her to be willing to take that big shot. And it just didn't go in.

Q. Courtney, talk about the job that Whitney Hand did on McCoughtry in the first half.

COURTNEY PARIS: I thought she did a great job. People talk about her 3 point shooting. She makes a lot of big plays for us, whether it's grabbing key rebounds or making defensive stops, which she did today. She's had a lot of games this season where she's been asked to guard the other team's best scorer and she's done a great job.

Q. Danielle, on that very last play, it actually you got the ball exactly where you wanted it, right? I mean, I guess you could have done several different things, but actually in the end you got the ball to the open person, right?

DANIELLE ROBINSON: Oh, definitely. I mean, it would have been I mean, it was the best play Nyeshia was ahead of me. She was wide open. I would have wasted time having to dribble up the ball. I looked for her. Like Courtney said, it was a great shot, it was a good look. It just went in and out, and we couldn't help that.

Q. Ashley and Courtney, seemed like you guys have been playing basketball at Oklahoma forever. Can you just talk about the emotions of what's it like that it's now over?

ASHLEY PARIS: It seems like we played forever. For me it seems like six months. So just goes by really quick. It's unbelievable. But it hurts now to have gotten this far and not be able to play in the championship game. But I think my experience here and just my growth and the friendships and the family I've gained through coming here, it's amazing, and I'm always going to be happy about that, but obviously right now being done with basketball hurts.

COURTNEY PARIS: Just what Ashley said. I mean, it does seem like it goes by so fast. You look up and you're a senior. But I feel like I've gotten to meet some incredible people. And I have more sisters than Ashley now, so that's good. I don't know. You just wish you could have done more, you know.

AMY YAKOLA: Thank you. Questions for Coach.

Q. Sherri, I know you've coached a lot of ball games, a lot of great games. Could you talk about the uniqueness of this game in that you played a great first half and then they come out and they get their great start in the second half, then you're battling the final five minutes. It was kind of an ebb and flow game, wasn't it?

COACH COALE: Well, I do think that they took control of the game in the second half. We were flat, didn't play with a lot of life, didn't have a lot of energy, got beat on the boards. They came right out swinging, and we didn't respond very well.

And I really felt like they were tougher the entire second half. They just swung and swung and swung, and we didn't swing back.

Q. Sherri, did it seem like they kind of abandoned the scouting plan at all the second half?

COACH COALE: Yeah, several several key things that we went through in shoot around today, but we just completely miffed in the second half, as if we had not ever done it before.

And I think that was you know, they throw that knockout punch and hit you with the uppercut and you're spinning for a little bit and you forget what we're trying to do and what the game plan is. We got a little tentative, and then got a little panicky with the basketball a couple of times.

Still, all that being said, we survived and we tie it up, get it back to a one possession game and have a chance at the end to win it.

Q. Sherri, we've talked about it with the players some. But talk a little bit more about the job that Whitney did defensively on Angel McCoughtry particularly in the first half.

COACH COALE: I thought she was terrific. Angel's very physical and Whitney took a beating physically in the first half trying to defend her and in front of her at the post and get the roll and screen, keep her off the glass. It's a tall order, but I thought she was terrific.

I thought she really made some things happen defensively, not just containing Angel, but made some plays happen, deflections, steals, that sort of thing. And then obviously knock down the open 3s.

But in the second half, you know, Angel McCoughtry is going to be rabid. You know she's going to do that and go after everything off the rim, and she did. And we had a hard time containing her when she did that.

Q. When you started looking back at this game, you missed some free throws, a lot of shots right at the basket that didn't go in and two 3s that lip out. Is that going to make this game a tougher loss because, you know, there's just that little margin there?

COACH COALE: I don't know if you lose by 1 or lose by 91 if it's any tougher. A loss is a loss. We'll be disappointed. And I'm sure I hope they don't, but I'm sure the kids will look back and say if only, because sometimes when it's a one possession game, you can point at 15 different things that had they gone just a little bit differently we'd all be in a different spot right now.

And we've talked about that through the course of the year. We lost a one point game to A&M, and lost a one point game to North Carolina. We've dissected that and it's an important piece of college athletics and an important part of the education process; that it's about more than winning and losing games.

And if kids can understand that I told them in the locker room, If you gave your very best effort, you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. You walk out of here with your head held high. And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But you learn from it and in the next round you come back and you ask for more.

I'm proud of our guys for fighting their way here and there's plenty of blame to go around. I don't think it matters whether it's a 1 point game or a 50 point game.

Q. When both Coach Walz and Angel McCoughtry made the comment that they felt that Whitney Hand was the heart and soul of your team, I wondered what you thought about that and how it will bode next year for having Whitney Hand as a sophomore.

COACH COALE: Well, I do think she plays in such a way that she's infectious, and we get our energy and our joy and our life and the spring in our step from her. And that's a pretty significant thing to do as a freshman, to infuse an entire team, particularly one that has some pretty major players on it.

And I think our team has taken on in the second half of the season her personality. And that's a great thing for the future. And we get to have her for three more years. She and Danielle Robinson gained some valuable experience running our team in the back court throughout this tournament.

Q. Coach, if you can, just take us through the last three minutes of the game when it went back and forth.

COACH COALE: I'm not sure I can. We were focused on getting stops and one and done possessions, and offensively we ran a lot of things that had a 3 point look and a follow up counter post look at the block and they took Whitney's 3 away and we got it at the block several times and got some opportunities to go to the free throw line.

Don't really know what more I can give you on that.

Q. Sherri, same thing I asked the girls. You played well when Courtney went to the bench late in the first half, but you sort of didn't early in the second half. Why do you think that occurred?

COACH COALE: Who knows. I have no idea, truthfully. I think Louisville was playing a lot harder and a lot more physical in the second half than they were early. And so obviously Courtney's presence is the first way that we battle that physicality and that toughness, and so without her there, we missed that.

But, again, it goes down to I just thought their effort and energy was better than ours in the opening five minutes of the second half.

Q. They seemed to kind of neutralize Courtney for a period of time there in the second half. She wasn't getting as many rebounds. They did a good job of blocking her out for about a five minute stretch. Talk a little bit about that.

COACH COALE: They did do a great job of blocking her out. But we've seen that all year long and for a number of seasons. People realize that one of the ways Courtney is most damaging is on the offensive glass, and so they completely take her out of the picture.

That's when other guys have to rebound. We have to have a perimeter guy crash in, Ashley crash in. And Danielle came in and got a couple, which certainly is not her forte at the point position. But other people have to continue to crash, and we can't leave it all up to Courtney, especially when she's being sometimes double teamed on the boards.

Q. Coach, what steps will you take to make sure that Nyeshia doesn't take missing the last shot too hard? Or maybe you've already done that in the locker room.

COACH COALE: That's the first thing you do. She'll be just fine. She understands. She did a lot of really good things for us.

Q. Coach, the question got asked, and I'm sure a lot of us feel this way, that it seems like Ashley and Courtney have been playing for Oklahoma for an awfully long time. They said for them it seems like just a few months. Talk about that from your own perspective.

COACH COALE: Oh, I think for all student athletes, you feel like you have forever and then the end gets here and it feels like it was the blink of an eye. As we all get older, we understand very clearly. Some of us Mr. Trammel more than others. I'm just teasing (laughter).

Just the older we get the more we realize how precious time is and how quickly it flies. As a coach you do the same thing. I have a whole host of alumni sitting out there tonight that have just made us fabulously proud and it seems like to me just yesterday that they were all playing for me.

So it all goes by in the blink of an eye. And we've enjoyed this era and Courtney and Ashley have done some phenomenal things for our program and at this institution and some things that will live on for a long, long time, I'm sure.

Q. Sherri, same thing I asked Courtney when Nyeshia got the ball in the wing and looked like she might have had time to go and go to the basket for a tie but she chose to shoot the 3. It looked good. I was sitting right by her, it looked straight. Did you think it was going to go in?

COACH COALE: Actually, I was a little bit surprised she took it because I thought she had time to get to the rim. We talked about it in the timeout knowing if we needed a 2 or a 3.

I don't blame her for taking it. I thought she showed a great deal of courage taking it. She was open. I loved the fact that she thought she could stick her feet and win the game. From my vantage point, boy, the line was sure true.

AMY YAKOLA: Thank you so much.

FastScripts by ASAP Sports

Oklahoma Player Quotes
Junior guard Nyeshia Stevenson
On the last shot of the game...
"In my head it was going in and I knew I was wide open. I was yelling ball, ball, ball. They got me the ball and it went in and just came right out. All I saw in the paint was red, and I looked up at the clock and not much time was left and it was a panic situation and I did not have time to think. I was wide open where I was and just took the shot. I just knew it was going in. There was nothing comforting about taking that shot. I was confident with every second."

On the difference of the team play in the beginning of each half...
"They got hungry and we did not get stops like we did in the first half. We were not hitting shots on the offensive end and it seemed like everything was a flip-flop from the first to the second half."

Freshman Forward Whitney Hand
On Louisville's 20-4 run to start the second half...
"They came out firing and had nothing to lose and we did not respond. They attacked us and we did not respond, and when we did it was too late."

On what they did differently defensively in the second half...
"They face guarded me and had someone on me and they were really aware of where I was. The shots I got in the first half were there in the second half, and they were just not falling."

On Oklahoma's three-point struggles...
"I don't think we struggled from three-point range. We got the shots we wanted, they just did not fall."

Junior center Abi Olajuwon
On the difference of the team play in the beginning of each half...
"Honestly it was a lot of mental errors We came out very composed initially in the first half and was very ready to play. We lost the lead and lost time at the end. We did not stick to the execution plan that we initially started with. Those mental mistakes start to add up and affected us at the end."

On what coach Coale talked about at the end of the game...
"Coach Coale always shows us a silver lining. This was an amazing season. 64 teams have the privilege of being in the tournament, and we had the privilege of being one in the Final Four. This is an experience our seniors got to have, and I thank them for taking us on an amazing journey. Fortunately we have not been a team that is accustomed to losing."

Sophomore guard Jenny Vining
On Louisville's 20-4 run to start the second half...
"They seemed like they had more energy than we did. It's almost like they wanted it more. We did not play as well as we did in the first half. They fought and fought and we came down and missed a couple easy shots and struggled from the three-point line. It was a tough loss."

On the struggles from three-point range...
"We got the looks, and the shots felt good. All of my shots felt good, but looked horrible as I had two air balls. They just did not go in for us tonight."

On how hard of a loss this is...
"This is the hardest loss of my life just because Courtney (Paris, C) and Ashley (Paris, C/F) are such great ballplayers and such good girls. We wanted to win a national championship for them and it's hard because we are such a close team and it's hard to see them go."

Louisville Player Quotes
Freshman Forward Monique Reid
On playing for a national title...
"This is what we've been talking about all year (getting to the National Championship Game). If someone told me at the beginning of the season that we'd be playing for a national title, I never would have imagined. We've been fighting through so many obstacles -- with a player quitting, a player having family problems -- I think we are the definition of sisterhood."

On facing Connecticut for the third time this season...
"Third time's a charm."

Freshman Forward Janae Howard
On playing for Louisville's first national title...
"Being in our position is just crazy, especially being a freshman. Wow, I am speechless. Playing for the first title in school history and nobody on this team has ever done anything like this before."

On potentially setting the foundation for the future of Louisville's success in the Tournament...
"Everybody dreams of playing in the NCAA Tournament every year. (The underclassmen) need to take on the leadership roles that the seniors have shown as they're going to leave. I know that I need to pick it up and pick up where they left off."

On the mentality in the locker room at halftime and starting the second half...
"We talked a lot about heart and how we didn't follow our game plan in the first half and how people weren't doing what they were supposed to be doing and we decided to pick it up."

Sophomore Guard Deseree' Byrd
On being able to come back in the second half...
"It was all heart. We believed in each other and we stayed together. In the first half we were a little shaky. We were yelling at each other and obviously not on the same page but Candyce (Bingham) and Angel (McCoughtry) got us together in the huddle and got us to stay together as a team for the rest of that game"

On playing poorly in the first half...
"That was probably one of the worst first halves we've ever played. We didn't follow the game plan at all and at halftime coach got into us. What got us here was following the game plan and in the second half we got out there and followed it to a 'T'."

On Becky Burke's big three pointers...
"We told her to just keep shooting. We kept telling her the next shot is hers. She hit them one, two, three in a row. It was really exciting."

On the idea of becoming the national champs...
"I can't describe the feeling. We appreciate what every single player on this team has done, including the players on the bench who scream their hearts out."

On Louisville's support of women's basketball...
"This program is really on its way up. We are about a level eight and we are heading to about one-thousand. We brought in all of our doubters. I want Connecticut. Third time's a charm and this is our time. Connecticut destroyed us twice this year. The coaches gave up, the players gave up and we quit executing our game plan. We will have to play our hearts out and play with a lot of pride. End of story."

Sophomore Forward Keshia Hines
On the team being nervous in the first half...
"I think we might have been pretty nervous, yes. It is our first Final Four so there are a lot of emotions but we recognized that early enough and were able to get back to playing our game."

On going on a 20-4 run in the second half...
"We got rid of all of our nervousness. We finally started playing our game. We played well enough that now we are playing for the National Championship."

On making adjustments at halftime...
"We started playing defense a whole lot better and started hitting the boards. We were muscling down and playing a lot better."

Freshman Guard Tiera Stephen
On the idea that Oklahoma was supposed to win this game...
"Everybody in this place thought Oklahoma was supposed to win this game. Everybody believed this besides the people down in this locker room, and we just showed them we did."

On playing Stanford...
"We will have to play strong defense and double down on their big players."

On playing Connecticut...
"We are used to them. We'd be out there both representing the Big East. We know we would have to play great defense. They beat us twice, badly."

On being concerned about falling too far behind...
"We were very concerned, but we knew it was a long game. We just came out flat. Oklahoma has been here before. We knew when we were down by 14 points that was not the game. We are the No. 3 seed in our region and we beat a couple No. 2s and a No. 1. We believe we are going to win or we are going home."

Louisville head coach Jeff Walz
On the second half comeback...
"It's all on the kids. I felt good about our game plan in the first half. I thought we were doing good things like we talked about. We were giving up offensive rebounds and getting beat in transition. I challenged them. I told Angel (McCoughtry) she was awful. That was the worst I've seen her play. That's the way we roll at Louisville. We speak the truth. She was terrible in the first half. She came out in the second half, and she played like an All-American."

On Oklahoma guard Nyeshia Stevenson's 3-pointer at the buzzer...
"I honestly thought it was going in because it looked awfully good. She had a clean look at it. I'm just proud of our kids. Monique Reid going for the rebound here causing that few extra seconds to run off was a big, big stop for us. Just exciting, no one expected us to be here. Now we play on Tuesday."

Louisville guard Angel McCoughtry
On turning around her play in the second half...
"Sometimes you have bad games. It proves that you that you are human. I am human. The thing is not to get down on yourself. Keep playing for the team. I had to do it on the other end, the defensive end. Nobody expected us to be here once again. We made it. We have not one high school All-American on our team, but these girls worked hard. I'm so proud of them."

Oklahoma center Courtney Paris
On what changed from the first half to the second half...
"We came out too relaxed, and Louisville did a good job taking advantage and got themselves a lead and never let it go. You thank the people that have supported you the past four years. Get ready to move on and hope the best for this program."

On making good on her promise to pay back her scholarship...
"I do make good on the guarantee. Not today, though. Obviously I don't have $64,000 waiting, but I do make good on it."