Oklahoma coach, players talk about loss to Kentucky

2016 NCAA Division I women’s basketball championship
Second · Oklahoma vs. Kentucky
Memorial Coliseum · Lexington, Ky.
Monday, March 21


Sherri Coale, Oklahoma Head Coach:
“I first want to thank the people of Lexington. Everybody here has been so terrific. Friendly folks and so hospitable and genuinely excited about women’s basketball NCAA Tournament. That’s been great so thank you for your hospitality. Kentucky just played better than we did tonight. They did, they just played better. I told our guys before the game if you have the most possessions you’ll probably win. That was a lie. We got 66 shots up and they got 58 and we lost by double-digits. We didn’t defend and we didn’t handle physicality the way we should have. We didn’t take physicality back at them and that’s sort of been an achilles heel for us this season. But I’m proud of our kids. I have a tremendous group of student-athletes that I wouldn’t trade for anybody on the planet. They work hard. They’re committed, and they’re united, and they’re earnest in what they do. It’s an absolute joy to coach them. I’m just sorry that the journey’s over because I think we had some becoming yet to do.”

On the game plan against Makayla Epps …
“Well the game plan wasn’t to give her 14 free throws, I can guarantee you that. That was a big problem. Never in a million years would I have thought they would have 29 points from the free-throw line. That’s crazy. I thought the point guard (Janee) Thompson was really key. I thought she really looked like a senior running her team. Third quarter we cut it to two. We’re doing everything right and she makes a couple of big shots and is just calm – her presence. It’s was just obvious that she was running the show there. But we had trouble scoring inside on their bigs, too. The defense they did on us at the block: we didn’t really have an answer for that. It was a collective effort. I thought Kentucky pulled together there late in the third quarter and got the fans behind them. That’s why you’ve got to play better during the year. You’ve got to play better during the year so you can play on your home floor in women’s basketball. They earned that right. They played better than we did and got to have it here. So they got all the fans pulling behind them and helping them. That’s what we have to do in the future.”

On what effect Oklahoma’s foul trouble had …
“Foul trouble kept us out of any sort of rotation all night long. It kept us from running things we wanted to run offensively. It kept us from doing the things defensively that we wanted to strategically. It affected us from the first quarter. We never were able to substitute for purpose. We were always forced to substitute out of necessity, and it was tough to recover from. Maddie (Manning) got a charge called on her, and then every time we went in to shoot a layup we’re jumping sideways afraid that we’re going to get another foul so it effects your shooting percentage. There’s not an element of the game that wasn’t affected by it.”

On if she’s ever been in a game where a team shot so many free throws …
“Yes, in the Virgin Islands (during the 2014-15 season) against Kentucky. I think they, literally, I think they shot 50, and tonight they shot 38. I don’t know that I’ve ever, I mean I’m sure it’s happened – you guys are the numbers people, 38 free throws in a NCAA Tournament game is a lot.”

On if there’s something about Kentucky that allowed them to get to the free-throw line so much both this year and last year …
“The teams are different. It just so happens that that’s the other high-fouling game that comes to my mind. We’ve been so much better this year in our discipline of not fouling. It was really a focus for us in the offseason so it’s a little bit of a surprise that we’d do this on this stage, but I don’t know that there’s any Déjà vu involved.”
Gioya Carter, Oklahoma Guard

On what made the difference in the game during UK’s late third quarter run …
“I think for Kentucky’s run, we made a run and we had some miscommunications on defense and that really got them going and got the crowd into it and that just spiraled from there.”

On the physicality of Kentucky …
“They were relentless on the boards offense and defense. They weren’t letting us get clear lanes to the basket. They were just very physical all the way around.”
Peyton Little, Oklahoma Guard

On the physicality of Kentucky …
“They are just a physical team. Like coach said, it has been a downfall of ours all season. We’ll have to work on that for the next coming season.”
On what their gameplan was to slow down Kentucky’s Makayla Epps …
“We just tried to make her go left and stop her in transition. That was our main focus. I think we did a good job with that.”

1 comment

  1. Really proud of our Ladies last night…when Makayla went down and eventually left the court…Janee stepped up and said, “I got this…you take care of that shoulder.” She basically stepped up and showed senior leadership. When Makayla (BGE) was able to return to the court later in the 4th quarter, looking so much better and actually able to swing the arm with the injured shoulder, then the backcourt duo returned–but thankfully Janee stepped up and showed the team what it meant to be a senior and lead until then.

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