The Braves, who had a 49-32 halftime lead, quickly bumped the lead to 24 points and cruised home with a 93-66 victory in the KCAC/HAAC Classic. Baker topped Saint Mary, 71-66, in the early game.
Ottawa coach Andy Carrier liked how the Braves opened the second half.
“That was our best stretch of basketball this year,” Carrier said. “We did not give them anything on the offensive end. We got the right guys the right shots. The only thing I did not like in the second half was the fouling.”
Ottawa turned those good defensive possessions into transition. Ottawa outscored the Bobcats 24-4 in fastbreak points and 20-9 on second-chance points.
“We had more guys with energy and focus on the game plan than we’ve had all year,” Carrier said. “We still have room for improvement. We did more team things.
“Defensively we were much better and really rebounded the ball. Especially when you play the really good teams, you have to guard and rebound.”
Ottawa used a 21-2 spurt from the 13-minute mark to the eight-minute mark of the first half to open a 37-17 lead. Ottawa canned five treys in the run.
“Our defense was better so we ended with more opportunities in transition. That is really how we like to play.”
Sophomore Zach Brown was the catalyst. The point guard tossed in a career-best 25 points and had four steals.
“He scored the ball really well,” Carrier said. “He was so much better defensively. That is the compliment that will make our team better. He started getting minutes late last year. These are valuable games for him. He did the best job of running the team he’s done this year.”
Several other players such as Trevor Lyons, Patrick Banks and Julian Rose along with other newcomers received minutes in the victory.
“These are valuable minutes for guys that don’t get many minutes,” Carrier said. “This is their opportunity getting game time doing our stuff. That is discipline. That is being unselfish and a team guy.”
Carrier said this team will have depth and kept the players fresh throughout the game.
“We played hard enough on defense we could use our depth,” Carrier said. “We need guys earning playing time because of their hard work on the defensive end.
“They never really got a good run on us. That is a good sign of a basketball team maturing. We kept sharing the ball.
“When we got the ball inside we got to the free-throw line. That is one of Corey’s strengths. That is why he is a tough matchup.”
Senior forward Corey Smith hit 10 of 11 free throws for 14 points. Chase Dippel finished with 18 points. Lyons hit four treys for 12 points.
Rose made is presence felt with a team-leading nine rebounds and showed his maturity and leadership.
“Julian Rose was a beast on the boards,” Carrier said. “That was huge for this team. He is smart. He understands [what is needed]. He is a great leader for us.”
Ottawa (1-1) plays 3 p.m. today against Baker.
Peru State (66) — Schaben 4, Oppitz 4, Williams 17, Bohy 13, Kirkpatrick 2, Green-Smoot 7, Knudsen 2, Jones 4, Wells 6, Christiansen 2, Jones 2, Steagall 3.
Ottawa (93) — Smith 14, Brown 25, Lindsay 3, Rose 5, Dippel 18, Banks 5, Lyons 12, Feighny 7, Regier 4.