Cal State Bakersfield (25-9) 80 UT Arlington (27-9) 76
Wednesday March 22, 2017
College Park Center - Arlington, Texas
UTA Head Coach Scott Cross
"Cal State Bakersfield was an extremely tough basketball team. They really came out and were the tougher, more aggressive team in the first. We got shell shocked to be honest. They took us out of what we wanted to do offensively with their tough, aggressive defense. They caught fire and that first half was a disaster for us.
But I'm proud of these guys. They fought back. They fought to the very end and had an opportunity to possibly tie the game. It's a terrible feeling. It's the worst day of the year as a basketball player when your season officially ends. It's the worst day as a coach. I feel terrible for our four seniors. I feel terrible for all of the guys. I can remember the day 22 years ago when I played my last game it was one of the toughest days of my life. For Faith (Pope), Drew (Charles), Jorge (Bilbao) and Jalen (Jones) it's one of the sickest, worst feelings ever. Those guys have given their heart and sole to this basketball program. They've elevated it to new heights. To have 6,336 paid people in attendance is a tribute to them and what they've done and how hard they've played. It's truly an honor to have the opportunity to coach these guys. It's been an unbelievable journey. I'm proud to be there basketball coach. Unfortunately, we ran out of time tonight. I don't think any of our guys have anything to hang their head about. They played as hard as they possibly can in that second half. They laid it all out on the floor and it just wasn't our night offensively. Those four seniors are going to go on to do great things because they're extremely high character guys. They're tough. They're selfless individuals. They're going to do amazing things and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for those four seniors."
On the performance of the team
"We tightened up our defense. In the first half, shots weren't falling. Our hands stopped moving. Our feet stopped moving. So defensively we were terrible in the first half. Part of it was the fact that they hit some tough shots. One guy hit it from beyond NBA range. He hit a couple of shots like that. Normally I would say, we'll give them that but it was their night. They were hitting those shots. The thing you can't change is how your hands and feet are moving and in the first half, they caused us to not play our style of basketball defensively. For us to have an opportunity to still be in the game shooting the basketball the way we did is a testament to these guys. But it's also a credit to Bakersfield for holding us to that percentage. They're probably the best defensive team we've played all year long. There's a reason why their defensive is one of the top-15 in the country. They made us take contested shots. We weren't able to move the ball like we normally do. Unfortunately, we weren't able to have the shots that we normally get."
On the intentional foul call late in the game
"It's a back breaker. You have some momentum going and then that doesn't go. We had the and one that they called off. It's not the officials fault. It's our fault for dropping our intensity in the first half. It definitely changes the momentum of the way things were going. It definitely did affect us but it's not the reason why we lost the game."
On the crowd
"The crowd, my goodness. The crowd helped out tremendously. If we don't have that crowd, we probably lose that game by 15-20 points. They helped energize our guys and fight back."
On the contribution from the bench
"We have confidence in all of our guys. They all have a role. They all played hard and contributed. To be down the way were and be able to fight back. We did get a lot of contributions from everybody on the team."
On what this season does for the future of the program
"It definitely helps with recruiting. I've had tons of people call that we've been recruiting. They've watched the games and like the style that we play. The community is behind us. The student support was tremendous. If I could have been a part of that when I was a student here, that would have been fun. I would have wanted to come back and do that again. Hopefully they embrace it. We should have a good basketball team next year. It was almost surreal to go out there and play in front of a crowd like that. It's a dream of mine to have every game like that. The guys have worked really hard to get the program to where it is."
Becoming a mid-major power
"We're getting closer. Our RPI was 45 at the end of the season. To be a top-50 program consistently year in and year out, I would consider that a mid-major power. It's just one year. We've got to figure out how to keep it at that level. But that is a dream and a goal of mine to get it to that level. We have to continue to get great players in here that embody everything we're about, toughness, selfless basketball players that are very skilled. We had that on this team and that's why we had a lot of success this year."
UTA junior forward Kevin Hervey
"They were physical on and off the ball. I was pretty frustrated and missing shots. In the second half, coach told me to calm myself down and it would come. I was being selfish, being frustrated. I should have been focused on our team scoring more points than their team instead of how many points I scored. In the second half, I took the focus off of me scoring and when I had a chance to make a play I did."
On this year
"It was an extraordinary year. We beat a ranked team. I don't think we've ever done that. We beat Texas. We've never done that. We had 27 wins and we've never done that. So after tonight, I'll look at the season as a whole and I wont be satisfied, but I'll be ok. We've done something we've never done before. Coach will never let us be satisfied. The season as a whole, it's been alright."
On His Future
"I'm coming back to school here. I'm not even worried about the NBA. I want to get to the NCAA tournament."
UTA junior guard Erick Neal
His big shots late in the game
"It was the crowd getting be going. It was a lot dealing with five (Dedrick Basile). He was talking so much trash and he turned me up. I kept telling myself it's going to get going. The crowd got me going as well. Those free throws were big. Once you see the ball basket, you feel like you can hit everything."
Cal State Bakersfield Head Coach Rod Barnes
"First of all, I'm one of the most blessed men in all of the world. I have a special group of men and they amaze me every time that they hit the floor. It's a great win for our team first with these kids and the sacrifices they've made. The exposure is great for our university in this tournament. It's great for our city on this march to New York. It's a great time for me along with Dedrick, the guy beside me, and the rest of our seniors. I just hope this never ends. It was one of those nights that we played against a great program. Coach Cross is a great coach. I respect what has been done here. The hospitality between the organization, administration, the planning has been first-class. There has not been a place that I've been that could match what has happened. It's going to inspire us in Bakersfield to do a great job, this is a great example of a great program, great coach, great facilities, great administration in what they've done."
On being first eight seed to make it to NIT final four
"I don't do seedings. We were the eight seed in the beginning and I knew we were a good team. We're always talking about what we've got to do. People respect what we're doing. We've got to continue to prove ourselves and that's okay. We've been built to do that and with this team we realize that they are a bunch at first. I think our team actually thrived off of that. It's a great deal to our program. It's a great deal to our school. We're not arrogant; we don't get into what seed we are. What we think about is that once we leave the floor whether we win or lose, we want people to respect our program. I would be saying the same thing whether we won or lost tonight. We came here to compete and try to continue to build on what we've done with our program. This is my first time coaching against Coach Cross, and he is really, really good. I've coached against a lot of guys in this country and he's one of the best that I've ever coached against."
Sr. Guard Dedrick Basile
On playing at Madison Square Garden
"It's a lot of our guys first time to ever be in New York. We're just blessed to be going out there after having a long season. Like I said last game, if we just play defense, I believe we can play with anybody."
On the Roadrunners shooting hot streak
"These last three games we've just been shooting in the first half. I believe that our extra shooting we've done in practice has to do with that. We just came prepared and ready and Coach Rod does a great job of preparing us for the game."
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