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Additional Quotes: U.S. Women's Pan American Team 65, Cuba 64

  • Date:
    Jul 19, 2015

USA head coach Lisa Bluder (Iowa)
On the end of the game:

First of all, Alaina’s offensive rebound was huge – gave us the one-point lead. Linnae was outstanding, getting to the free throw line, being gutsy at the free throw line and then getting the steal as well. Linnae was just terrific off the bench tonight. She gave us such a spark offensively and defensively. I can’t say enough good things about the way that Linnae played today. I thought Tori (Shatori Walker-Kimbrough) also played really well today. In the first half, she kind of kept us in the game. She did a nice job. But Alaina did a great job rebounding again tonight. I think she had 15 and six offensive rebounds, just did a tremendous job. She is beautiful to watch on the offensive rebounds. She keeps the ball high so well, and just has great touch putting it back in, great strength putting it back in.  

On the USA’s press in the second half:
It was a difference maker. We went to a three-quarter-court press, and that kind of gave us the life. We were down 12 at that point, and that brought us back into the game. So, I was really proud of the way we executed that, because we haven’t had a whole lot of time to execute that. But, Tori and Linnae, especially, did a really good job on the front of that press. 

Were you impressed with Cuba’s defense?
They were so physical inside. They just did a great job of really taking away our high-low game. I thought we could get to the rim with our guards, and we did several times, but they did a really good job being physical and just really taking away our inside game that we have been really confident in.

How does it feel to advance to the gold medal game?
Very good. I’m glad we have a little extra time to rest. Bed check was at 1 o’clock last night – turn around and play 12 hours later, that was tough on our players. It was tough on us physically, tough on us mentally. (It was the) first time in this tournament that we haven’t had a shoot around, so that was different. Now, we are back to a traditional schedule, and I think that is good for our team.

Alaina Coates (South Carolina/Irmo, S.C.)
On the game:

I think we came out really sluggish, really slow. Once we really hit crunch time, we were able to settle down like we did with Puerto Rico last night. We did what we needed to do – got stops, made shots and got offensive rebounds. 

On Cuba:
Their post players are very aggressive. They are very hard to get around. They pretty much put you in a one-and-done situation: if you missed, that was it. So, they had really good post play.

On her 15 rebounds:
I knew, especially on the offensive glass, rebounds were much needed, so I just concentrated on getting the rebounds so I would be able to create either a shot for myself or a shot for somebody else.

Was the team nervous when you went down by 12 points?
We just were thinking, ‘Get your head in the game. We got to go.’ We came here to win gold, and you can’t get down on yourself in times like that. It could happen tomorrow, we are going to pull it out. You never know. At the end of the day, you just got to go hard and give it your all.

How does it feel to get this win?
It feels really good. Stewie (Breanna Stewart), she was saying how the last time she played in this, they came in seventh place, and now we are playing for gold. So, it’s a really exciting feeling, and I’m just glad I’m a part of this.

Linnae Harper (Kentucky/Chicago, Ill.)
What was going through your mind when you went to the free-throw line when the USA was trailing by one point?

All I could really think about was my teammates. We’ve put in so much work for three weeks, every day, just trying to get better and fight for a gold. I just wanted to do it for everybody and for the coaching staff. I think we really deserve it. We’ve worked really hard. 

Were you nervous?
Yes, I was very nervous. There was a lot going through my head, but I just had to have confidence in myself and know that I was going to knock those free throws down for my teammates.

Were you expecting to be the game-winner?
We have a great 12 players. Whether you play 30 minutes, whether you play six, we have to be great teammates. My role yesterday was to cheer and encourage my teammates, and today, I had another big role. So, I was just really excited, and at the end of the day we are just going for gold.

We played hard. Credit to Cuba, they played really hard, and we are just excited to get to the gold medal game. 

On the game overall:
To be honest, I think we needed that game. I think this was a great match up to prepare us for the championship game. We’ve worked really hard. As a team, we are getting better with our chemistry on the court, and I definitely think it paid off. We are just going to keep fighting and getting ready for the game tomorrow.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough (Maryland/Aliquippa, Pa.)
On the game:

It was a great win. It wasn’t pretty, but we got out and we won. Now, it’s on to the next one, Brazil or Canada. 

Was the team nervous when you went down by 12 points?
I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous. We came out a little flat. We had a quick turn around (from last night), but we couldn’t use it as an excuse. They played just as many games as we did. I thought we did a good job coming together and pushing through.

On the USA’s press:
One of the key quotes in basketball is, ‘Defense wins games.’ I think that is what really got us going, is our defense. I think the press played a very big part in that.

On Cuba:
I know it didn’t end how they wanted it to, but I thought they represented their country very well. It was not an easy game at all.

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