LEAVENWORTH — The Ottawa University women’s basketball team is assured of an invitation to the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament next week.
The Lady Braves can finish no lower than the eighth seed after their 58-44 win Thursday over Saint Mary in Leavenworth.
Ottawa (5-12) is a game ahead of Bethany, which is in eighth, heading into today’s season finale.
“That was the main thing ... to guarantee us a spot,” Ottawa coach Bruce Tate said.
Tate said it was important to get a road victory.
“We will have to go on the road and do the same thing from here on out,” Tate said. “It was a great win on the road. We had to play through some things.”
Ottawa played from behind from the six-minute mark of the first half to the final six minutes of the game. Saint Mary erased Ottawa’s 19-10 lead with a 12-1 run to end the first half and maintained a small lead until the last part of the game.
“We kept our mental cool through that stretch,” Tate said. “It was great mental toughness.”
The difference was shooting. Ottawa was cold, missing shots all over the floor. The Lady Braves shot 6 of 30 in the first half.
“At halftime, I told them ‘we are not making any adjustments on the offensive end,’” Tate said. “We are getting great looks.
“We have not hit a three yet. Once one goes down, we will be OK.”
The shots started falling as Ottawa outscored Saint Mary 22-6 in the last six minutes of the game.
“Our defensive effort was very consistent,” Tate said. “Down the stretch, we got key stops.
“We have to realize we can play defense without fouling. When we reach, you are leaving it in the officials hand. We reacted extremely well.”
Ottawa took control with an 11-0 run to go from a 38-36 deficit to a 47-38 lead with 3:40 left. Kelsi Meier had five points in the run. Shauna McClure hit a three.
“We are doing some really good things offensively,” Tate said. “Shauna hit a couple of big threes. Angelic [Frazier] came up with a big steal. We were able to make some plays to build that momentum.”
Ottawa had eight turnovers, which could be one of the lowest amounts for a single game in a couple of decades.
Amber Ramsey paced Ottawa with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Mikayla Skidmore had 14 points. Meier finished with 13 points.
The Lady Braves play 4 p.m. today against Friends at home. Friends has a one-game lead in the KCAC title chase.
“We have nothing lose,” Tate said. “They have everything. They are playing for a conference championship.”
Saint Mary (44) — Mattox 4, Hooker 2, Watson 10, VanNess 12, Ezeh 9, Weege 6, Marx 1.
Ottawa (58) — Dowell 2, Ramsey 14, Skidmore 14, Meier 13, McClure 9, Thomas 2, Frazier 2, Buckles 2.