This season’s squad has a different look and feel to it. The Braves made a statement Saturday with an 87-61 win over Bethel in North Newton.
Ottawa was coming off a rough loss to Tabor Thursday in a game the Braves let slip away. The Braves rebounded with one of their best games from start to finish.
Ottawa coach Andy Carrier said this team has shown it can be mentally strong.
“That was a real emotional loss,” he said of Thursday. “They were frustrated. It is nice to have seniors and experience back. I was impressed how we did it on the defensive end. We shared the ball too.”
Ottawa finished with 17 assists and limited Bethel to 34 percent shooting from the field.
The Braves played team basketball all over the floor.
“We got it side-to-side when we did not get it in transition,” Carrier said. “We have pretty good chemistry.”
Carrier said Lundry and Regier need to provide an inside presence.
“Getting valuable minutes out of Colby and Alex is huge for us,” he said. “They are getting back to providing a defensive presence inside. We need them on the defensive end and on the glass.”
The pair combined for eight rebounds and kept Bethel from getting many good inside looks.
Carrier liked the balanced attack. Ottawa finished with five players in double figures.
“That is really who we want to be,” Carrier said. “Our best games we have five or six guys in double figures. We were throwing the extra pass. That is a sign of a good team.”
Ottawa shot 48 percent from the field, including going 10-of-20 from behind the arc.
The Braves put the hammer down in an eight-minute stretch of the first half.
Ottawa outscored the Threshers, 23-3, from the 10:45 mark of the first half to the 2:42 mark. Ottawa went from an 19-18 lead to a 42-21 advantage.The Braves led 45-23 at halftime.
Ottawa kept Bethel at bay in the second half.
“You have to learn to close out,” Carrier said. “We talked a lot at halftime how did we get this lead. We rebounded, guarded and ran offense when we did not get easy shots in transition. The guys are starting to believe in the way we do things. That is invaluable.”
Bethel did try to press Ottawa in the second half and the Braves handled it well.
“I was glad they pressured us,” Carrier said. “They changed defenses. We are capable of playing a lot of different styles. We can still get better.”
Senior Corey Smith put together a sterling game with 17 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.
Kameron Lindsay and Chase Dippel netted 17 points each. Adam Hasty and Julian Rose tossed in 10 apiece.
Ottawa (7-9, 4-2) plays 8 p.m. Thursday at home against Southwestern (12-5, 3-3).
Bethel (61) — Moore 3, Arciniega 3, Griffin 18, Howard 4, Hodge 17, Haywood 2, Hill 6, Yunker 2, Cape 2, Wilson 2, Benton 2.
Ottawa (87) — Feighny 2, Smith 17, Lindsay 10, Hasty 10, Dippel 17, Lyons 6, Falk 2, Rose 10, Baumchen 2, Regier 2, Lundry 2.