The Braves (7-7) held Oklahoma Wesleyan to 28 points and 34 percent from the field in the first half Saturday at Wilson Field House. The second half was a bit more of a struggle, but the Braves made enough plays down the stretch for an 85-80 victory.
“We were good defensively,” Carrier said. “We were top five in the nation in blocked shots. Field goal percentage defensively was in the high 30s. We lost that the last four or five games before the break.
“If you will guard, you will have a chance every night. When you don’t, you have to have a great shooting night every time out. That is not conducive to winning a championship.”
Ottawa guarded well in the first half and it led to a good offensive half as the Braves shot 60 percent from the field and built a 46-28 halftime lead.
“The first half was as good of basketball game as we have played,” Carrier said. “We have been working hard in practice in getting our energy and aggressiveness back on the defensive end. That led to more confidence on the offensive end.”
Wesleyan opened the second half with a 23-10 spurt to close within 56-51 with 13 minutes remaining.
“We kind were back on our heels to start the second half,” Carrier said. “It is not easy to right that ship.
Oklahoma Wesleyan crawled back within one at 65-64 with 5:40 remaining. Ottawa kept making plays offensively to keep the lead. Ottawa was sparked by Kameron Lindsey and Julian Rose, who combined to score the final 11 points in the last minute of play.
“Kam and Julian were solid down the stretch,” Carrier said. “They will make the easy play.”
Lindsey led Ottawa with 19 points and eight assists. Rose finished with 12 points and three assists.
“[Julian] is such a tough matchup,” Carrier said. “We will get the ball to him down the stretch.”
Those two had plenty of help. Colin Nichols hit 6 of 8 from the field for 14 points. Jason Haase and Alex Lundry had nine each and Colby Regier and Eric Gant tossed in eight apiece.
“We are getting different guys involved,” Carrier said. “Colin played well. Bryan Newton is getting more confidence. Alex Hasty he’s gotten so much better on the defensive end. That is huge for this team.
“We did a good job of getting it to our bigs. Colby had it going in the first half. Lundry and Jason were good on both ends in the second half. That is what we need to be about.”
Oklahoma Wesleyan (80) — Jahn 2, Cooks 12, Harris 21, Young 15, Woods 13, Greene 5, Miller 8, Stark 4.
Ottawa (85) — Nichols 14, Lundry 9, Lindsay 19, Rose 12, Newton 4, Gant 8, Bullinger 2, Haase 9, Regier 8.