MBI QUOTES – UMass 71, Murray State 69

UMass Coach Frank Martin – “These kids, they’re fun to be around. They’ve had a camaraderie, a desire to figure out a way to win. They’re just fun. We didn’t bad, the ball wouldn’t go in the basket and that happens but you’ve  got to find a way to win. Once we got down 10, it looks like everybody relaxed and said, ‘All right, let’s just go shoot the ball and see what happens. A lot of credit to them. Murray’s a tough team to defend.” (On the final play): “This was crazy. It was the first time all game we actually started the right way. We say ‘Do A, and we went out in B both times. At least we got to the right places and the guys made the right cuts. Noah (Fernandes) did what good guards do, he didn’t dribble at the guard, he dribbled at the big. I’ve heard about his game-winning shotmaking for six months since I became the coach, I lived it today. He’s fearless in that moment. Those kids have a resolve. Failure brought us all together. I got fired. Players that were there, their coach got fired. Players who transferred in failed at the other place. That doesn’t make us failures, it brought us together. Let’s not dwell on negativity, let’s learn from the mistakes we’ve made where we were at before and let’s figure out a way to really help each other so we don’t deal with that same feeling and those guys from day one have embraced that thought process. You can’t be happy when you make it to championship game. That means there’s more work to be done. They’ve earned something that’s not easy to do which is get to a championship game.”

UMass guard Noah Fernandes – “Just a gutsy, gritty win. We contained them enough to get the win. Defensively we were a little off the whole game. In the first half we kind of let them loose a little bit. As time went on, we locked in a little more on the defensive end and that’s where we hang our hat. We just wanted to make it as tough as possible on them those last minutes.” (On the winning shot): “I caught the ball, I didn’t know if the guy was trying to trap me. We go home and lose, I want everybody to look at me, I don’t want to point the finger at anyone else. I want to go home and put it all on me, ‘Noah missed the shot.’ I just had the sideline and had a little space on the wing to work. I just stepped back and I don’t know, just trust everything you’ve done sort of your whole life and this is what you work for. I don’t know how I do it but just like starting when I was really young, game-winners and half-courters, crazy stuff. It’s one of those things that you can train your mind for so when you’re in the game, it’s nothing to you.” (On playing for the championship on Sunday): “It’s huge. I want to be a part of changing this program around and all the guys want to turn it around. When you come out with a win, mentally you can succeed in that style of game. I think trophies are cool, just for memorabilia. It’s something you can keep forever.

GAME WINNING SHOThttps://twitter.com/MyrtleInvite/status/1593726696821227521?s=20&t=aXwf2PxIHrtSMVHsIKT7ow

Murray State Coach Steve Prohm – “Congratulations to UMass on a tough win. We weren’t quite good enough to finish it out. I’m disappointed for our guys. It’s the second day, things are going to be physical, we’re a little fatigued. We were able to fight through it for a lot of stretches. We had some foul trouble the whole game. We were up 10. Talking to the guys, it was ‘You’ve got to make plays.’ The offensive glass hurt us and a couple times we didn’t get matched up the right way. We had plenty of opportunities. He (Fernandes) made a tough shot. You’re talking to the guys saying ‘Keep him in front’ and he kind of got on the side. We did a job of corralling him and we let him get up the sideline. He hit a tough step-back fadeaway and he buried it. If he missed it, the game’s over. We’re growing up, we’re maturing. I thought we handled yesterday well and competed well today. Now we’ve got to handle a tough loss well.”