The Lady Braves were disappointed, but encouraged, in the near upset of No. 15 MidAmerica Nazarene Tuesday at the Bell Family Arena in Olathe.
Ottawa led for the first 31 minutes, but a big run by the Pioneers midway through the second half put the Lady Braves on the wrong end of the 78-72 score.
“We are upset about the loss,” senior Lauren Buckles said. “We really wanted this one. We were very determined.
“We had a chance to win it and we did not do that. It is something we are disappointed in.
“It stinks when you have that much heart and lose a game like that. It hits you deep.”
MidAmerica caught fire over a nine-minute stretch to outscore Ottawa 24-6 to go from a 57-52 deficit to a 76-63 lead with 2:38 remaining.
“Offensively — that stretch where we were stagnant — we were not attacking the basket,” Ottawa coach Bruce Tate said. “We had people settling for 12-, 15-foot jumpers. We did not play together.
Buckles said Ottawa’s game fell apart during the Pioneers’ run.
“As our offense falls, that is when our defense starts to fall,” she said. “We hang our heads. We need to get better at that.
“It kept going back and forth. We did not get stops when we needed stops. It cost us the game. We did not finish. Offensive rebounding and them running the floor is what cost us.”
MidAmerica clamped down on the defensive end during that deciding stretch and began hitting shots.
“We controlled the whole tempo of the game [up to that point],” Tate said.
“They got their flow on the offensive end. We relied on the defensive end. We did not create easy buckets with our defense.
“Against a good team like MidAmerica, when they give you opportunities to score, you have to score. That hurt us.”
Ottawa closed the game on a 9-2 run and had a chance to cut the deficit to a bucket late in the game.
“I like our spunk,” Tate said. “During a timeout, I told them our defense has to be solid. The harder you work on the defensive end the luckier you get.
“Shauna [McClure] hit a big three. Amber [Ramsey] got a three-point play. We made some big plays.”
Ramsey paced the Lady Braves with 21 points.
McClure, who was playing her first game of the season, had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Ottawa showed improvement in several areas.
The Lady Braves shot 41 percent from the field and had a season-low 15 turnovers.
“Our offense is getting better and better,” Buckles, who had 13 points, said. “We have been finding that chemistry with each other. When we started hitting shots that is when our defense was at its best.”
Tate saw lot of things he liked.
“The effort was there,” he said. “The fight was there. We got better in short period of time. There is a lot potential with this group. They see it. They believe it.
“Each game out we want to get better. That improvement we want on the defensive end, rebounding and taking care of the basketball. We did that.”
Buckles said the resolve of this team is strong.
“We have 18 girls that really want this,” she said. “This is the year. We have the talent and ability. We know we can come in and compete. What hurts is we did not finish it out.
“We will come back stronger in the next game.”
Ottawa (1-2) plays Friday and Saturday in the Benedictine Classic.
Ottawa plays 7:30 p.m. Friday against Benedictine and 1 p.m. Saturday versus Baker in Atchison.
MidAmerica Nazarene (78) — Herold 8, Boan 7, Sprew 8, Palu 7, K. Balcom 21, M. Balcom 14, Bell 4, Wesemann 7, Louzeiro 2.
Ottawa (72) — Dowell 4, Ramsey 21, Meier 9, Neptune 5, Buckles 13, McClure 14, Frazier 2, Boore 4.