Feb. 12, 2012
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COACH BLUDER: This is a really good win for our program. Five in a row now, I think our team is feeling really good about going on a road game. Our next game at Michigan. This is an important game because it was our only meeting with Michigan State for head to head competition for tiebreakers. It was an important victory. I was really happy with the way we shot the ball in the second half. I thought we defended pretty well in the second half. We had five people in double figures. I love to see that. Sam’s double double, 13 rebounds for her. And our bench, getting 20 points from our bench is very, very good. Bethany and Theairra both having 10. Bethany having five rebounds in addition to that in 10 minutes of play. So happy with that. Thrilled with the crowd we had today. Really coming out to support us here. We only have one last home game left. But for the crowd to come out and help us and energize us today was outstanding.
Q. Coach, they hurt you with some offensive rebounds. How did you make it so it didn’t hurt you that much?
COACH BLUDER: Sometimes it’s a little bit deceiving because I think they’d get like two or three in a row. So they were outrebounding us significantly at the half by 10. We narrowed it a little bit at the half. But we did a better job on the offensive boards ourselves. We only had one offensive board in the first half, and there were quite a few to be had. In the second, I think we had seven offensive boards. So we did a better job of crashing in the second half. But they did outrebound us. We felt like that was the key to the game. We felt we offset that with our good free throw shooting. We shot much better than they did from the free throw line and that offset that margin a little bit.
Q. Coach, Jaime goes down and you win four in a row. How does that happen when you lose a leading scorer and still rattle off wins?
COACH BLUDER: We have such a balanced team. I don’t think we’ve ever been a one person show. Jaime was certainly our leading scorer and somebody we counted on in so many different situations, but I think when Jaime went down, everybody had a focus that they had to pick up their game a little bit. We knew that one person wasn’t going to come in and replace Jaime. You can’t do that. She’s that good. But all of us had to make a real focused effort to improve our game. I think across the board, we have.
Q. Coach, what about the separation in the second half?
COACH BLUDER: We had a nice defensive segment. I think we went on a 12 2 run or something to that amount. But we talked a lot about defense how we had to defend better, how we had to rebound better. Sometimes we take the focus off the offensive end, and it really works out better for us. Like when we quit concentrating on the offense and are more focused on the defense, it’s funny how the offense then happens for us a little bit better. I certainly think we played a lot better defensively in the second half.
Q. How do you like your position and your momentum right now in general?
COACH BLUDER: I like it a lot. Winning five games in a row this time of year, and even having to win without Jaime, that gives us a lot more confidence going on the road. We know Michigan is a very good team. They just upset Nebraska at Nebraska in their last game. We know it’s going to be a really tough opponent. Here we have Michigan twice in the next three games. But I do like where we’re sitting. I like the momentum we have, the way we’re playing. I think we’re passing the ball very well. I feel like we’re really looking for the assists lots of times over the score, and that helps us get better, higher percentage shots as well.
Q. Do you like the idea that the stakes are higher every time you go out now this time of the year?
COACH BLUDER: I feel like we’re in this position a lot. I think that we’re used to it. It’s something that we’ve been in kind of year in and year out. We’re battling to get to that Big Ten tournament better seed. We’re battling to get into the NCAA Tournament, and here we are again. So it’s a situation that we’re very familiar with, and I think our team has responded very well to it.