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Additional Quotes: USA Women’s World University Games Team 102, Japan 98 (2OT)

  • Date:
    Jul 11, 2015

USA head coach Joe McKeown (Northwestern)

Thoughts on the win over Japan:

That was one of the craziest games I’ve seen in a while or been part of as a coach. I want our players to be able to enjoy it and move forward. We’ll get ready right away for the gold-medal game. That’s why we came here.

On playing from behind in the first quarter:

We had worked against [Japan’s offense] a little bit. They did the same things they did to Australia in the quarterfinals, and that they’ve done the whole tournament. We just were a step behind them. They made shots and they kept us off balance. We switched our defense a little bit at the start of the second quarter and that helped us get going.

What was your message with your team down big after a quarter:

The biggest thing to remember when you’re playing with a 24-second clock and four quarters is that it’s early and you have a lot of possessions. We had to shore up defensively. We were scoring. It’s not like we couldn’t score, we were just breaking down defensively. We kept saying that we’ll make a run, just keep shooting. It was a crazy game.

On the resiliency:

There are so many plays going through your head after a game like that, that could’ve gone either way. I’m proud of how resilient we all were.

On Erica McCall:

I’m proud of Erica McCall. She was in a unique position with nobody at the line and no time left. I think it was a great experience for her. I think she showed so much fight and heart after that moment, and to me that’s the reason why we won.

On the facing Canada for the gold medal:

It should be a great game. Canada played really, really well against Russia tonight. We’re going to have to really guard them. For fans of the World University Games, you’re going to see two teams have had a great tournament. It should be a lot of fun.

Mercedes Russell (Tennessee/Springfield, Ore.)

How does it feel to win a game like that?

I’m feeling super relieved. We had a long one, but we pulled it out and we’re all excited for Monday. It should be a great game.

On overcoming the slow start:

I wouldn’t say anything was surprising. We knew they were fast and that they were going to drive and kick and shoot 3s. I think we had a slow start on defense. Come Monday, we’re not going to be able to do that. If teams keep pushing us and pushing us, eventually we’re going to fall. From the start of the game, offensively and defensively, we have to be ready.

What were you telling each other to get back in the game?

We just had to keep going on runs. It was pretty evident that we had a height advantage against them, so we had to keep crashing the offensive boards and going up strong to get and-ones.

On asserting themselves in the second overtime:

I think we kind of had a chip on our shoulder. We had to make a gap, and we had to put the thing away. We had to tell them that we weren’t here to lose.

Erica McCall (Stanford/Bakersfield, Calif.)

On the win against Japan:

Emotional is the right word. That was absolutely crazy. After those two free throws (at the end of the first overtime), I was going ballistic. My teammates all helped me keep my composure by telling me that we’re going to be ok, we’re going to fight back and get it. I can only thank them for helping me out in that situation.

On Japan’s style of play:

They were quick and scrappy. They knew how to attack and kick out. We really just had to adjust. Help side is a really big thing that you’re used to doing in college basketball and right now in these situations, we had to limit our help. They’re a really good team and I’m glad we could pull it out.

On adjustments later in the game:

The biggest thing was just talking to each other, communication. We had to know where our teammates were and who was coming through, cutting. Communication was definitely the biggest thing.

On facing Canada for the gold medal:

I think they’ll bring a lot of inside-out play, using their posts. They’ve got quick guards who like to attack.

Aerial Powers (Michigan State/Detroit, Mich.)

On the win against Japan:

I feel like I’ve never played in a game that crazy. Maybe my freshman year against Dayton, but here we’re playing for something big. We’re playing for the gold. They came out firing tonight; they were hot. For us to get the lead, and to win the game was truly incredible.

On Japan’s quick start:

They were hitting 3s, draining 3s. At first we thought they were going to shoot a lot, but they were driving us to the rack and getting wide-open layups because we were not helping as much. Then after that we kind of got off our game plan. They started knocking down 3s and building up the lead.

On adjustments throughout the game:

We knew we needed to start it on defense. Don’t worry about offense. We knew we could score and it had to start with stops on defense. After the first quarter, we were all saying that we had three whole quarters left, so there’s no need to panic and no need to get down on ourselves. We’re basketball players. They hit us in the mouth first, but we need to fight back.

On taking control offensively:

That’s the player I’ve always been. I like that situation and being in control a little bit. When I saw open spots, I just took it. A lot of times they were helping so much that they would foul me and I would go up and draw the foul. I was able to knock my free throws down.

On facing Canada for the gold medal:

I know they have bigs just like we do. We know it will be a back and forth game. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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