The gauntlet of upper echelon conference matchups for Ottawa University isn’t slowing down.

After facing two consecutive ranked teams in five days, the Ottawa women’s basketball team hosts Sterling College (11-7, 8-3 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference) 3 p.m. today at Wilson Field House on the OU campus. The Lady Warriors won the first match between these two teams this season 52-49 Nov. 15 in Sterling. That was the first conference game of the season for both teams.

Sterling is coming off its largest margin of victory this season after dominating lowly York College 89-54 Wednesday.

The Lady Braves (5-12, 3-8 KCAC) have given top-tier conference teams a tough time as of late. Their Wednesday game against Friends University came down the buzzer.

FRIENDS 87, OTTAWA 86

Madi McAvoy scored two of her 26 points as time expired, but it wasn’t enough to top Friends.

McAvoy, freshman guard, snagged an offensive rebound under the basket off a missed three-point shot by Katlyn Hughes, sophomore guard, at the one second mark against the Lady Falcons. Her layup at the buzzer was good, and for a moment the Ottawa University women’s basketball team bench celebrated when a referee whistle blew to signal what could have been a foul on McAvoy, potentially extending the game to overtime. However, the whistle marked the end of the game, OU losing to No. 25 Friends University in heartbreak fashion, 87-86.

Neither team led by more than six points in the highly-competitve contest that featured 11 ties and 15 lead changes. It was the second straight game against a top 25 opponent after OU topped No. 17 Tabor Saturday.

Friend’s Lexi Evans stole the ball from Kelsey Hendricks, sophomore guard, with 15 seconds left, forcing OU to foul. Betty Akathiotou, the Lady Falcon’s leading scorer with 25 points, hit two free throws with 14 seconds left to give Friends a 87-84 lead.

Jenna Kramer, sophomore guard, missed a three-point shot with five seconds left on Ottawa’s ensuing possession, and the Lady Braves sent Akathiotou to the line again. She missed both foul shots, and McAvoy pulled down the rebound, allowing OU to call a timeout for the last shot. Hughes put up a desperation three from the top of the key that was off target, and McAvoy got the second-chance basket from the left side of the hoop.

McAvoy set a career scoring mark, and led all scorers with her 26 points in just 14 minutes off the bench. She finshed 5-8 from the field, 3-3 from beyond the arc and 13-15 from the foul line. Fellow freshman guard teammate Jennifer Anthony also had a breakout game. She had 18 points in 18 minutes off the bench, finishing 4-7 from the field, 3-5 from three-point range and 7-10 from the free-throw line. Kramer added 13 points, and Leslie Speer, senior forward, had 11 points.

Ottawa out-shot Friends, finishing 48.9 percent from the field (22-45) to its opponent’s 42.9 percent (30-70). The Lady Braves earned 34 points from the free throw line, finishing 34-44. Friends, however, dominated the turnover battle, finishing with 17 steals to Ottawa’s three. The Lady Falcons had just 13 total turnovers to Ottawa’s 27.

Friends (87) — Akathioutou 25, Vining 16, Quiroz 10, Kelly 10, Edens 9, Ellis 7, Evans 3, Lozen 2, Styles 2, Weatherall 2, Mulinax 1.

Ottawa (86) — McAvoy 26, Anthony 18, Kramer 13, Speer 11, King 8, Hendricks 5, Offutt 3, Lewman 2.