First of all, you hit the thousand point mark in your career today. Congratulations uh, just talk about this complete effort and how the juniors led the way today and set the tone uh. Thank you. Um, you know we just knew in the tournament um us being older guys we had to step up, but it was definitely a team effort throughout the whole game defensively offensively, you know just getting big stops, making big plays and we knew that was going to be Um, particularly for this game paige, how important was it to see your buds here? Your upperclassmen buds hit some shots early to take some pressure off everybody else and aaliyah getting herself established early on too yeah. It was huge. I mean it was a whole team effort and i know that a lot of pressure was on me and i knew my teammates were going to have my back. They performed as well as they have all season and they just really stepped up. I know i started off slow, but the upperclassmen see ian live and obviously aaliyah um in the post. They just played super well and i think it was a really good team. Victory and i’ll. Ask the last question to let everybody else get going here. You had a team high 30 assists today season. High 30 assists on 40 field goals. How good a passing team? Is this really no that’s that’s amazing? We didn’t, we didn’t, know that, but honestly we’re not we’re, not really surprised, um kind of happens every day.
In practice and um, you know we we’re we’re, very unselfish team and we turn a turn, a good shot into a great shot, so it’s very um very like us, i like to say good job. Ladies. Thank you, hey paige. I want to ask you specifically about what avena did out there today. Um she’s, probably not wanting to want to talk herself up, but she would want to rebound away from a triple double. How – and i know you talk too about how much she does on the court that people might not always realize, but how just crucial was her game today and what she does really every day when you guys go on the court yeah. I was super excited for this game um just because of the spotlight on it, and i know everybody hyped it up to be katelyn versus paige, but i was so excited for our team, because i knew that people were going to come and notice and watch our Whole team play – i know, it’s, not just me, i know it’s everybody, so i was super excited for everybody else, just for them to show the spotlight in in their eyes um, but obviously yeah e. She does everything for this team. I said that once before and she keeps proving my point um and i mean rebounds – assists passing defense scoring just anything. We need her to do she’s going to do it she’s going to do it to the best of her ability and when anybody’s slacking she’s going to pick up for us age two moments.
I want to ask you about um, you hit a three and then you kind of swatted, the coach on the butt on the way. By was that kind of saying you know we got this for you and then, of course, when you took the charge from caitlyn at the end and you you two kind of exchanged, uh, smiles and paths. There yeah it’s kind of an inside joke between coach and the team, but we were just really excited that anna came in and hit a huge three and i just gave him a little pat on the butt just to let him know that it was a great Play and then um yeah, obviously me and katelyn are good friends, so um just me. Taking that charge on her yeah we exchanged some words. I guess you’re peaking right now. It seems. Like i mean this was just a tremendous showcase, like you said paige for everyone, but it seemed like everybody’s playing well at this point. He said, like you said: oh, i said that yeah oh um, yeah, well, coaching kinda told us in the tournament um. You know we we have no other choice but but to play good, but to play great and some teams. You know some players are going to play good. Some. Some players are going to play great and some players going to play more than great um. So we know we just know as a team, we have to play our best.
This is a time where all our work has to pay off from when we first got to campus in june july. All the hard work that we put in and all the stoppage from kovid just everything that we’ve been through all the adversity, just sticking together not being able to go home for christmas, um all those things, so we really have to just we. We talked about it as a team. Most definitely um but now is is. Is this what we’re here for it’s march it’s it’s uconn time it’s winning time so that’s that’s? What we came here to do, how did kristen’s play, affect the confidence of of this team kind of putting you guys early on on her back um, i told c. I think it was two days ago that this is going to be her game, that she’s going to be able to take over and just lead our team, and she came in with that mentality, and especially i mean everybody saw her offense, but what she did on The defensive end was huge, i mean she played well on both sides of the ball. I think her play, everybody saw it. It was amazing. This is what she does every day in practice and i was really excited to see her go out there and do it. So i think she not only needs to get credit for her offense, but her defense as well, but for her to come out like that and lead the team it sort of set the tone for all of us.
This is a question for both of you, as relative newcomers to uconn was just the style of basketball that yukon plays where it really is. Team basketball, it isn’t about one star, one player was that something i was appealing to you when you were looking at coming to this program, and how have you seen that develop too over the course of the season where you guys are really coming out and and Playing more and more like a team, as the season goes on, um i think what’s cool about playing here is that you know a lot of a lot of different teams. Can you know say: oh you know, we played team basketball and this and that, but like we really play team basketball like we have no other choice, um, you know we have any time. Whatever five is on the court. We have like five killers on the court who can score facilitate pass rebound like crazy defense like crazy at any moment um. So you know a lot of a lot of teams. Don’T have that we have weapons from on the court. You know to the bench um. So just we, we all know what we’re great at. We all know what we’re good at and we we do. We do those things and when someone is hurt or when someone’s slacking like like paycheck, you know someone picks up for it um, so it’s it’s. Definitely a a you contact with culture.
This this team, basketball and it’s been like that for decades now, avina paige had her chance to talk about you and how well you played. She came close to a triple double as well today and in the end, she never let all this talk about her and caitlyn. You know get in the way and she still played a really solid overall game. Can you just talk about how composed she was with all this attention and pressure on her really that’s, just paige being paige, you know, she’s really, never gon na uh talk herself up and um she’s super humble um. You know she’s. She never made this about. You know paige versus caitlyn, she always made it about us versus them. Um. She came out, you know, although she wasn’t hitting shots at first um. She was talking to us, like you know like she was. She was still being aggressive. She was there for wrestling defensive, defensive. End coach took her out and she’s one of the loudest cheering on the bench and when she came back in you know she was able to do her thing, but that’s that’s what’s. So so great about her. You know she’s. So young, but she never really gets down on herself um she’s able to be young, but still be a huge asset to this team, a huge leader to this team and um, whether she’s hitting shots or not. You know people are going to guard her 94 feet.
Um, you know she and sometimes she’s, going to make it from half court or the logo, whatever it may be: that’s just paige being paige but um. You know we know she’s going to step up and the team has got to be ready for that, and we know him. They all know it. She knows it too early earlier in the year. Actually, just before the big east tournament coach had said that kristen had her ups and downs and some inconsistencies and he’s sure she would want to play a little bit more consistent and since then she has just played lights out. Do you see a different confidence in her or something um yeah i mean, i think c for c was just getting that confidence and that’s not only her job but our job as well to hype, her up and sort of be in her ear and always giving Her that voice of confidence and just sort of just being that voice of encouragement as well um, but for her i think it was locking in on the defensive end first and once she started doing that, i mean she became a lockdown defender on this team. She’S. Taken the best player on every other, opposing team and shut them down, so for her to do that and sort of be selfish in that aspect and focusing on the defense first and the offense will come. I think that took her gain to a whole.
Another level can both of you guys talk about what liv did today too it’s going to get lost in in all these numbers that everybody else put up, but she was really your rock on the on the backboard for a while um just talk about the job. You she did and you guys overall did on the boards. You know, like we kind of touched on before we’re, not we’re, not great, and we can’t play. You know our style of basketball unless everyone does their job. You know liv was really out there, like you, said being that rock being that glue for us tonight, um on the boards, like crazy, uh boxing their big kid out, stopping her. I don’t know how many points she had, but just being super physical down there with her um, which makes our job a lot easier. So for her for her to do that, be able to rebound – and you know, be aggressive and still making layups down there. We passed to her setting huge screens for us, you know getting us open which gets her open. Sometimes you know she was liv was just doing live things and that’s that’s. What she’s great at she does it. She has been doing it night in and i don’t, and i think she deserves a lot more credit than she gets um, because this is not the first game i mean you even saw her last game against the bigs against syracuse in their zone.
I mean she really picked him apart and then obviously playing against the good syracuse post and then obviously, the um goods uh post at iowa, they’re very hard to guard and she’s been really physical and the coaches have been on her about putting defense first and sort Of being physical and using her length, um – and i mean whenever we get beat, we know we got live behind us and we just know that they can’t get the ball inside because we have living there as well. So just for her to be that sort of lockdown defender and we can always count on her in there and then on the offensive rebounds. It speaks for itself, i’m sure she got a whole lot of those um, but just the extra possessions and just the little things that she does for us can never go unnoticed, and that is one of the best feelings. When you, you might get b, sometimes and knowing, if liv is right behind you, you yell her name and she’s right. There she’s right there, one last player, that’s, probably going to get overlooked a little bit just because everybody else did so much, but aaliyah stepped into the starting lineup again, for you know, obviously because nika’s injured, and she just really got you going early. You know for for a young player uh she she’s also playing with a lot of poise isn’t. She, yes, physical, you know young big body down there, just doing what she does.
Setting screens um and just just making herself known down there, she’s not afraid of any contact from anybody. Um and she’s she’s huge on the defensive end as well um, and she she does a really. She does a lot of great things for us. It has been doing a lot of great things for us night in and night out, as you’ve seen tonight in our previous games as well. So we’re so proud of her um. Being able to you know, come up coming off the bench and give us that spark, and then you know playing the starting role as well um, but you know we she’s been like that in practice. For us, you know shoot around all that so um it’s not really a surprise to us um. She might not get the the credit that she deserves all the time, but um everyone has just been really just doing their job. It may be a really small part of this game, but the fact that anna hit a couple threes today, how much can that mean for you guys going forward if she gets a little bit of confidence and gets you know some step back in her game yeah. I mean we need everybody in order to win um in the lead, eight and the final four in the championship, so we’re just trying to take it game by game, but having that confidence now it sort of builds us up for practice tomorrow and then they’ll lead.
Eight on monday, so just every little thing matters march, um, and so it was really big for her to do that tonight. How did it feel to have coach back on the sidelines? Did you kind of give you guys a jolt of energy just to you know, want to go out there and win for him after finally getting him back on the sidelines. It almost felt like he was never gone. Really. You know we just we’re just so used to having him around all the time. Definitely missing. You know the first two games, but i think especially to have him back now for the 316 game and moving forward it’s. Just you know we it’s just a sense of calmness um for us just to have have him there um know exactly what we’re doing he’s able to call you know just just things that we’re really used to switch it up. Sometimes like hey, like let’s. Do this in in the middle of running back on defense um, you know we trust him, obviously um, so it definitely feels good to have him back on the sideline, though any other questions for these two i’ll go real, quick um. I know you guys were probably so focused on iowa, but do you know anything? Are you going to go back and watch? I guess the baylor michigan game as it’s going on now about your potential elite opponent, yeah! Definitely going to watch that game as to see you know who we’re going to play next um celebrate this game for a little bit.
You know it was a huge win for us um.