The Ottawa University women’s basketball team needs wins. The Lady Braves and three others are two games apart in the standings.
Two of those four will not make the conference postseason tournament.
Ottawa took a step toward solidifying a spot in the tournament with a 63-47 victory Thursday over Bethel College in Wilson Field House.
The Lady Braves (4-11) are tied with Bethany for the seventh seed two games ahead of Bethel and Saint Mary.
Ottawa coach Bruce Tate said his team or any other can’t relax despite the finish line in sight.
“It is way too tight,” Tate said. “We want to be in. I challenged them a few weeks ago. In my 15 years, Lady Braves basketball has not missed making the playoffs. We are not going to start missing the playoffs now.”
Ottawa finishes the season against two of the top three teams in the conference, sandwiched between Saint Mary.
“We needed to get a win,” Tate said. “Anything is possible. We can put ourselves in a better position.”
Ottawa plays 5 p.m. today at Southwestern, which is in third at 12-3, one game behind co-leaders Friends and Tabor. The Lady Braves play Thursday at Saint Mary and close out the season a week from today at home against Friends.
Ottawa has not been good at closing games, especially the tight ones. Ottawa built an 18-point lead with 13 minutes left and coasted home. Ottawa scored 10 of its final 12 points from the free-throw line in the last four minutes.
“Down the stretch, they got more physical and put us the at the free-throw line,” Tate said. “Our girls reacted extremely well. For us to knock down free throws against them was huge. The bench came in made some big shots.”
Ottawa kept Bethel from building any momentum by keeping runs low and hitting shots. Ottawa made seven treys and was 22-of-28 at the line.
“We have been struggling to shoot the basketball the past few games,” Tate said. “It is good to knock down some threes. It stretches the lead for you.
“It was good for us to play against the zone. When they did go zone, we made the adjustment and converted. We put a new set in for the 2-3 zone and have not had a chance to use it yet. We were anxious to see how they would execute it.”
Ottawa opened a 10-point lead at halftime on a late run.
“That was big for our confidence having that lead at halftime,” Tate said.
Ottawa forced 27 turnovers and turned them into 24 points.
“Defense created our offense,” Tate said.
Amber Ramsey paced Ottawa with 17 points. Lauren Buckles tossed in 11 as she hit three treys in the first half.
Bethel (47) — Durant 6, Ebenkamp 2, Ulrich 13, Regier 6, Wilkerson 7, Zerger 1, Scott 4, Tschetter 8.
Ottawa (63) — Ramsey 17, Skidmore 9, Meier 7, Grammer 7, Neptune 3, Thomas 7, Christman 2, Buckles 11.