March 7, 2012
New Mexico 61
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by New Mexico. Coach, if we could start with you, some general comments on tonight's game.
COACH SANCHEZ: First I want to congratulate UNLV. Not only a great game it's what March Madness is all about but for a great season. Kathy Olivier has done a great job for her four seniors. They've been terrific players, terrific opponents for our players. I want to congratulate them on a terrific season.
Going back to the game, I'm so proud of these young ladies. They've had so much adversity throughout the year, they've stuck together. Anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong and it didn't matter. I told them the entire season for my first year, I wouldn't want to coach any other team, and I feel that way today.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions for the student athletes.
Q. How important were those three pointers when you were down by nine in the second half?
Porche Torrance: I think they were extremely important. We were down by nine, I think. I just told my teammates to keep fighting, we're still in this. We had eight or nine minutes left. Nikki, Lauren and Caroline, they stepped it up, shot the ball well. We feed off that. The fans helped us out a lot.
Q. Nikki, you lost your first two meetings against UNLV, then conference tournament you win this one. What was different?
Nikki Nelson: You know, we had a little bit of a different game plan. UNLV is really good and they did beat us twice. We were hungry for it. Tournament time is always exciting because anything can happen. So our team was just ready. We came out hard and we fought. It turned out for us this time, so...
Q. Last year you were the 7 seed as well. Similarities from last season? Do you see yourselves winning two more games in this tournament?
Porche Torrance: I think we can. We just got past UNLV. I think we play the winner of Colorado and Boise. We're going to go watch that. We told ourselves we got to take it one game at a time. We took care of tonight's game, just got to get prepared for the next game, whoever we play.
Q. Nikki, you get the winner of the game that's going on right now. Is there a team you prefer to play of the two?
Nikki Nelson: Uhm, you know, there's not. I'm ready for there's not. They're both really good teams and I'm really excited to play whoever wins. We're excited (laughter).
Q. You played almost the entire 40 minutes tonight and you had an amazing night. Talk about your night.
Porche Torrance: I told myself, I'm a senior, this is my last opportunity. I just had to give it all for my teammates. I wanted us to win this game. It's hard to beat a team three times in a row. We definitely stepped up. I took care of business out on the court. Hopefully we can take this confidence and win and keep running with it.
Q. Nikki, talk about the run where you hit four straight threes. Were you feeling it tonight?
Nikki Nelson: It was exciting. We were down and it was a little bit disheartening. We faced kind of that same pattern the entire year. Tonight was a little different, though. The phrase 'don't give up' just kept running through my head. This is it for us. It's all or nothing. As a team we rallied. Everyone started hitting. Everyone fed off of the excitement and confidence. It was awesome.
Q. Have you ever hit four straight threes in a game like that before?
Nikki Nelson: No.
Q. First time in the year the team did that?
Nikki Nelson: I think it is.
Q. How was it to see all those fans from New Mexico come down here and basically overpower the Thomas & Mack?
Porche Torrance: It's a blessing to have all the fan support that we have here at UNM. Without them, all the adversity we've been through, ups and downs, they stuck by our sides. We really truly appreciate that because we feed off their energy. That helped us out a lot.
Nikki Nelson: It's wonderful to see them all here. Uhm, it really did feel like we were playing at the Pit back home. It gets so loud in there, you can't hear anything. You're screaming just so your teammate can hear you. It's a fun atmosphere. They make it worthwhile, they really do.
Q. Nikki, what does this mean for you as a senior, to win a game like this in the tournament where you've had a rough season?
Nikki Nelson: It's incredible. It's absolutely phenomenal. I'm elated right now. There's no really words for it. We've been in the past I think couple years, we've gotten beaten on buzzer beaters, it hasn't gone our way. To finally have it turn over and have us win is just incredible.
Porche Torrance: I would say our hard work all year, like she said, buzzer beaters, losing by two or four points, crunch time, being up the whole game. Our hard work paid off. It showed tonight. Normally we struggle with taking care of the ball. We definitely only had 13 turnovers. That helped us out a lot. Just our confidence. Hopefully we can take that going into the next game.
THE MODERATOR: We'll dismiss the student athletes at this time and continue with Coach Sanchez.
Q. You had nine turnovers in the first half but only four in the second half. What did you tell them at halftime?
COACH SANCHEZ: I think the biggest thing is we addressed that in the locker room. We said we needed to take care of the ball and execute. We needed to get more possessions than they do. That's what we wanted. To only have four in the second half, especially when they were pressing, they had to get the ball back, it was incredible energy with our team, confidence, just to run our press breaker, then go down and execute on offense. I think that was a very good execution by our team.
Q. The regular season didn't go as you'd hoped. You get a win here in the first game. Is this enough for you? What do you want out of this?
COACH SANCHEZ: No, no. No, no, no. We want to win it. There's no question. I mean, I don't care what our record was anymore. That's gone, it's over. Right now it's a three game season. We won the first game. We're going to work on Colorado State as we speak, get a game plan together. With our team, they're beat up obviously, and we'll get them some rest. But they'll be ready to play Friday, whomever it might be. You know, you're happy that you won. Our players executed well. But we're just not happy to be here; we want to win.
Q. Durbin only had six points before she hit those three pointers. Talk about those.
COACH SANCHEZ: With four people in double figures, that helps Caroline get loose a little bit. Everybody is going to face guard Caroline, hold, grab, whatever they can do. Caroline is a terrific player. When Lauren started hitting some threes, when Nikki started hitting some threes, we were feeding Porche inside, it got Caroline loose a little bit. Boy, she stepped up. With eight minutes left, it was 45 54. We had a timeout. I told those kids, Look, it's a three possession game and there's plenty of time left. That's three shots by Caroline, Lauren or Nikki, it doesn't matter. We hit two straight threes. They just felt the energy. It was a complete team effort. Caroline will manage to get some shots up. She'll go within the flow of the offense. She won't force anything. That's what makes her such a good player.
Q. Talk about your three seniors that stepped up in the second half.
COACH SANCHEZ: They did. Porche has been a senior captain all year. She's been a go to player. She's been absolutely terrific. Nikki, this is her first full season of playing with two knee surgeries. She didn't get that much playing time. Those guys don't want to go home yet. Lauren had a concussion the last time we were here, got hit on a pretty bad screen. Took almost two weeks off because, number one, she needed to. It rested her. It rested the knee. She had such a good practice on Monday before we left. They just come in and they don't want to be done yet. We have another senior, Ashley Rhoades, who is a volleyball player. I credit her a little bit because Ashley Rhoades is someone who can go play on the U.S. national volleyball team and she's decided to come help us. She's done that just in practice. The three seniors definitely stepped up today. But I want to acknowledge Ashley because she's really done a great job for us.
Q. When you were down by nine in the huddle, did they do anything specifically to spark the team, the three of them?
COACH SANCHEZ: You know, they had so much positive energy. That's what you have to do. Like I said, we're down nine. We have eight minutes left. It's three possessions. That's only three shots, 30 second shot clock. There's a lot of possessions left with eight minutes left. We could get some stops, which we did. We hit a couple very timely threes. I think went on a 16 3 run. Really gave us a lot of energy for our full court press, a tempo press. Wanted to slow them down, so maybe they would have 17 or 18 seconds on the shot clock to run their offense. Then one and done. We had to box out. I tell you what, UNLV has some terrific post players. Porche gets 20 and 11. That's just going to work. Jourdan Erskine was another that battled those people inside. Chinyere Nnaji had her shoulder knocked out against Air Force. That thing has to have surgery at the end of the year. This is how tough these kids are. They refuse to lose and want to play hard for the seniors.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much, coach.
COACH SANCHEZ: Thank you.
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