March 19, 2022
Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Princeton 69, Kentucky 62
Q. Both you guys missed some time in the first half, going back to the locker room, was it injuries or what caused both you guys to miss time during the first half?
RHYNE HOWARD: Yeah, we both took some pretty hard hits, so we decided to step out for a minute.
DRE’UNA EDWARDS: Get ourselves together, that’s all.
Q. To build on that, it was during that time, Rhyne, when you went out early in the first half where Princeton was able to take the lead and it seemed like you guys were never in your groove after that. How much did that mess up with the flow of the offense or even the defense during the injury time?
RHYNE HOWARD: I don’t think that’s what messed up the flow of our offense. We got very good looks and were able to do what we wanted to do. It just didn’t go in the basket.
Q. What has your time at Kentucky meant and what has it meant to be part of this program and do the things that you’ve done?
RHYNE HOWARD: It’s been fun. I don’t really look at the accomplishments or anything, it’s just the connections I’ve had with my teammates and my coaches. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love all of them. I know that they gave their all for me today and this season.
Q. Rhyne was just mentioning relationships and stuff there. What does it mean kind of looking back an your relationship, what it meant to have her as a team leader and kind of a friend right there with you?
DRE’UNA EDWARDS: Yeah, Rhy my doing, it means a lot. That’s like my sister right here. I mean, I love her, so, yeah, I love you, Rhy.
RHYNE HOWARD: I love you.
Q. There were some stretches there in the first half, Kyra was pumping you guys up, loved the defense that Jada was bringing. What was working for you and especially in the fourth quarter when you cut it to one, what was working and how come it didn’t quite get over the hump to take the lead?
RHYNE HOWARD: We were just playing aggressive defense and at times got a bit too aggressive.
Q. Being conference champions yourself, how does playing the Ivy League champions, Princeton, compare to other top teams in the nation like south Carolina, Tennessee, that you play pretty often?
RHYNE HOWARD: Credit to Princeton but we’ve played better teams and come out on top.
DRE’UNA EDWARDS: Yeah, I think the SEC is the top conference in women’s basketball, so that’s pretty much all I’ve got to say.
Q. What are you going to miss the most about Rhyne as a teammate and as a person?
DRE’UNA EDWARDS: I’m going to miss her leadership on the court. Off the court, we’ve had some very fun times. Rhyne is a very funny person, so I’m going to miss the jokes, the laughs. I’ll call you, though.
Q. It’s hard right now with the outcome not being what you wanted, but this run you just went on was pretty impressive considering where you were a month ago, that ten-game winning streak, and winning the SEC Tournament. Just for you guys to come together as a team like that, what does that say about how special of a unit this was and a group you guys were?
DRE’UNA EDWARDS: It means that we fight and we don’t lay down for nobody. We dig deep and we play with our hearts.
RHYNE HOWARD: Yeah, we don’t care what nobody got to say about us. We going to fight for each other.
Q. I guess for both of you guys, what do you think was the big difference tonight, or I guess this afternoon, from 13 days ago in the SEC Championship?
DRE’UNA EDWARDS: I mean, I think – I think we just hit shots in the SEC Tournament. Some things didn’t go our way today. We just got to finish on our end.
Q. I know this is a lot to take in right now but you’ve got I think so much basketball ahead of you. Can you give us your thoughts on looking forward, because it comes pretty quickly, and just thoughts on your game and how it will translate at the pro level?
RHYNE HOWARD: Right now, I’m not thinking about that. I know it’s going to come quickly but I’m just going to take some time to look back on everything that we’ve accomplished here and everything that I’ve done over these past four years and just take it all in for a minute.
Q. You touched on this a little bit but you were talking about not hitting shots today versus hitting some shots in the SEC Final. What did you see from the Princeton defense and did they do anything that threw you off at all or was it just one of those days?
DRE’UNA EDWARDS: I’m going to say it was just one of those days.
RHYNE HOWARD: Yeah, I agree. Their defense wasn’t nothing that we haven’t seen before in previous games.
Q. I know it just ended, disappointing end to the tournament, how do you look at the whole picture of things?
KYRA ELZY: Obviously it’s a disappointing day. It’s not the ending that we wanted. Give credit to Princeton. I thought they were the tougher team today. Made some big plays when they had to have them.
As far as what we’ve done, I told the players in the locker room in, this moment, it hurts. But when we have a chance to look back, I just told them how much I love them, how proud I am of them. When we were dead in the water, this team could have laid down and quit, and we did something really special. To go on the run that we made to make it to the NCAA Tournament, to win the SEC Championship, we have some things that we have done, accomplished down the stretch that we will be proud of even though in this moment it’s hard to celebrate it.
Q. You know, the win against South Carolina, the run in the SEC Tournament happened a couple weeks ago. Did having that time off, did that cause any issues as far as losing that momentum or losing that sharpness coming into the tournament?
KYRA ELZY: You know, I thought we had been focused in practice. We have been locked in, I thought, all week, and taking care of our business. So it wasn’t like we didn’t come here prepared and wanting to win. You know, it did not go our way today. Like I said, credit to Princeton. They made some tough plays. Didn’t think we could get over the hump. So some of the defensive stops that we have been getting down the stretch to get on our winning streak, we just couldn’t get today.
But let me tell you, hats off; this team has a toughness about them. No quit. Even today, we did lose, but I thought down the stretch they continued to fight. So we came here wanting to win. We just didn’t finish the job.
Q. Obviously Abby Meyers is a tough defensive matchup for you guys. What about her di lei offensive game di lei made it so tough to defend?
KYRA ELZY: I thought Abby had a great game. She’s a phenomenal guard. I thought she made some big plays. Her di lei ability di lei to score on all three levels, and if you give her any space, it’s going up, and she’s very efficient offensively.
Q. We asked you about Rhyne a million times it feels like, but now that this is the end, what are you going to miss the most about coaching her and having her on your bench?
KYRA ELZY: She’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of player. She’s gifted. But more importantly, what she has done for Kentucky basketball. I’ve said this: lei She is the best in the country for a reason. Her ability di lei to score on all three levels; her di lei basketball game speaks for itself. She has left her legacy di lei at Kentucky and for women’s basketball.
But what I’m going to miss is the person. She’s very humble, kind-hearted. I’m going to miss her coming to the office and laying on the couch and trying to see what we’re going to do for practice but she is a great person and that matters to us in our program.
Q. On that note about Rhyne as well, how important was it to get her that championship in Nashville and the gratification of being an SEC champion and has hardware from her time at Kentucky?
KYRA ELZY: Well, I think she put her stamp on her legacy. It was great that she had the opportunity to win an SEC Championship. That was the reason she came to Kentucky. That is the standard and expectation; we want to play for championships, and for her di lei to be able to win it, so proud of her di lei, and all the accolades di lei.
But I’m proud of this team. Like I said, disappointing day but what I love about this team, we’ll go back to work in the off-season and this will be one that we remember.
Q. I know it’s frustrated because you seemed to be in the game, the last four minutes you went without a field goal. But did you ever think you would get it back together and be able to take the lead and how frustrating was that?
KYRA ELZY: I felt like we were in the game, when we cut it to four, I was like, if we can just get over the hump, we kept talking about being able to get a defensive stop, a stop, a score, but today that didn’t happen for us. But I always thought we were in the game with a chance to one. We’ve come from being behind a lot of games this year, so that was no different.
But like I said, give credit to Princeton. They made tough plays when they had to and we just did not – we could not finish today.
Q. You talked about Abby Meyers earlier, but looking at Abby as well as Kaitlyn Chen, how did they make life difficult for you guys defensively?
KYRA ELZY: We were switching. I thought we allowed them to get downhill and rise up and make some shots. They made some tough ones. But they are very talented. They are well-coached. I thought they were efficient offensively. For us offensively, I thought we were rushed today. I thought we played too fast on the offensive end. Broke off some plays, and so I will take that to make sure that in the future, we’ll be ready.
Q. Seemed like when y’all played Indiana in November, that was Walker’s first big-time performance; how proud are you of her performance di lei today and just the whole entirety of her freshman season, what she’s shown and doing at this level?
KYRA ELZY: Jada Walker is tough as nails. Her ability di lei to bring the heat defensively, but I’ve said it all year, she’s fearless. She’s a fearless freshman, and what she has brought to our team this year is everything we needed: A winning mentality, a toughness, someone that loved defense and the sky is truly the limit for her. Now that she has a season under her belt, y’all better watch out.
Q. So humble, she doesn’t want to answer it, but would you mind talking about her (Howard) and just what she brings to the program?
KYRA ELZY: Well, whoever is smart enough to draft her, they are going to have a talent, and she is going to make people better. She she’s competitive. Her basketball IQ di lei is unbelievable. But it’s her versatility of lei at the next level. She’s a 6-2 guard with a great frame. She she can play multiple positions, and I think in time she will be the face of the WNBA.
Q. Carla mentioned in her postgame presser that she remembered that you were on the Tennessee team that ended her UCONN career. Curious if that crossed your mind at all today or when the matchup was announced?
KYRA ELZY: It didn’t but now it does cross my mind that she brought it up. So that’s like a double-dagger, right.
But she’s done a great job with that program.
But I’m proud of what Kentucky has done this year. Our work is not yet done. We’ll go back to work and this will be a program that the people in the Commonwealth will be proud of.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports