South Carolina Head Coach Dawn Staley
On how difficult the loss is
Very difficult. It was a very winnable game, but we didn’t deserve to win. We lost the game in our preparation the last two games, preparing for Mississippi State. And that’s my job. It’s my job to get them right, and they were not right coming into the game.
On the lane violation late in the game and the length of time it took to foul on the next possession
I don’t know what happened with the Charenee [Stephens] because we know Val [Nainima] takes a long time to shoot free throws. So that was a mental mistake. On the second part, we are working with a young basketball team that has probably never been in that situation before and Mississippi State was turning the ball over, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to turn the ball over. We felt like what was left on the clock [would be enough], even with them shooting those free throws at the end that would put us down by three if she made both of them. We had plays that we have been working on, full court plays and seven seconds is plenty of time for us, so I don’t mind that part of it. We still got a very good shot at the basket. But it didn’t come down to those two plays. It came down to plays in which things broke down and they got offensive rebounds and kicked back to the shooters. We weren’t supposed to leave the shooters open. So it came down to that. It didn’t come down to those last two plays.
On trying to learn from this loss versus just putting it behind you
We have to address it. I have been addressing it since Tuesday. Our players have a responsibility in it too. They have to get themselves into the position to get up and play basketball games. If we didn’t want to compete and play for a stake in the SEC standings – we are trying to get to the top four spots – and if they didn’t want to do that then we shouldn’t have won at Auburn and we shouldn’t have won at Georgia. Don’t get us really excited about what’s taking place here and then take a step back on our home floor. You have got to take care of home in this league because road games are really hard to come by. And we didn’t accomplish that today.
On the offense stagnating in the second half
We are getting the ball to the right people, but they just have to convert like they have been doing. We aren’t asking people to do what they haven’t done. we are just asking them to do what they have done all season long. With that, we still put ourselves in the position to win. I’m mad at how we lost, but I know exactly how and why we lost the basketball game, so that is number one. For me I’d rather get blown out than come this close and know the reasons why we lost the game.
Sophomore guard La’Keisha Sutton
On whether this was the toughest loss of the season
The Tennessee loss was hard, but a loss is a loss not matter who we are playing.
On what the plan was with 20 seconds to go
The plan was to foul, but there was just a miscommunication. It wasn’t just that one mistake that hurt us. It wasn’t just that one mistake at the end that hurt us. There were mistakes the whole game that hurt us.
Sophomore forward Charenee Stephens
On whether the last play was something that was practiced a lot
Coach (Staley) has a lot of plays in crucial parts of the game, and she going to go all out. She is going to draw something up that will be effective and it is just up to us to execute it.
Mississippi State Head Coach Sharon Fanning-Otis
This was a tremendous team win. We have all seen each other a lot in our league now, but South Carolina is impressive. They are playing so hard, and they are playing with a lot of confidence. They guard you from baseline to baseline. They are ready to shoot. They have a lot of weapons. They can penetrate. They have a presence around the rim and tremendous rebounders. Their bench is strong. So, this is a really big win for us. If you would have said you shot 45 percent from the field and you got out rebounded like you did, then I would have said I’m not sure that we can win a game that way, but our field goal percentage in the second half, just making better decisions with the basketball. We were able to force enough turnovers and get a couple of easy buckets, and just give us a couple more possessions. It was a team win for us. I felt like when we matched up a little bit instead of playing them just straight man, we contained the penetration and guarded the 3 a little bit better. We found a way as a team, and this is a huge win for us.