BALDWIN CITY — Baker University men’s basketball team was not going to hand Ottawa University a 20-point victory without a fight.
The Braves big men were in foul trouble and 6-foot-7 Mason McDow left the game because of an injury. Ottawa went with a five-guard line-up in the final strethes of the game. The Wildcats quickly slice a 21-point deficit to eight points with 1:48 remaining Wednesday night on Baker’s home floor.
The Braves withstood the rally and walked out of the Collin Gymnasium undefeated with an 89-78 victory.
Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said his group showed grit and determination to stave off the Wildcats.
“The tallest guy out there was 6-foot-2,” Siebenthall said. “We are stubborn, we are not going to play zone. We are going to still play man. They kept throwing it inside. Their kid went off and hit those threes and got them back into it. We showed poise there and got stops when we needed to. We got some big buckets late.”
Junior Jackson Mallory displayed his all-around game, playing each of the five positions, despite his 6-foot-2 frame. He turned in career highs in points (17) and rebounds (8) and had seven assists.
“He was our five man [stationed] at the free-throw line,” Siebenthall said. “He is very adaptable. A lot of our guys are that way. They are playing multiple positions. Jackson is smart basketball-wise. A lot of our guys are. The biggest thing is we are unselfish.”
Ottawa, coming off its trip to the Virgin Islands, came out firing. Ottawa scored the first seven points of the game and built a 24-point advantage, 46-22, late in the first half. Ottawa led 48-27 at the break.
“It was a little scary going down there and having just a day in between our travel [and this game],” Siebenthall said. “Sometimes those trips can produce that chemistry on the court. The guys were into it and focused. We had a little bit of time to prepare [Tuesday]. We did not do a lot on the court. We watched film and it paid off.”
Ottawa withstood a couple of big runs by Baker in the second half. Baker opened the second half with a 10-2 run to slice Ottawa’s halftime lead to 50-37. Ottawa increased the lead to 21 points only to see Baker come back.
“They are 18- to 22-year-olds,” Sibenthall said. “I don’t know what is going to happen one minute to the next. That is what makes this business and make this business [frustrating]. One thing I can tell you is these guys will come out and play hard. They have proven that for three games. The trick for us is how are we are going to respond when we don’t make a bunch of shots. Are we going to keep guarding or get a better shot?”
Ottawa shot 52.7 percent from the floor and 47.6 percent from behind the three-point line. Ottawa had five players in double figures, led by Mallory. Darryl Bowie scored 16 points. Haskins finished with 15 points. Mat Baldeh netted 13 points. Jaquan Daniels had 11 points, and Kyle Patrick finished with 10 points.
“We have a lot of guys that can score,” Siebenthall said. “The tallest guys on our team can shoot the three. We spread the floor. We have a lot of shooters. We are hard to guard if we share the ball. If the ball is stagnant and one guy holds it, we are easy to guard. For the most part, we moved the ball well.”
Ottawa, which is 3-0 for the first time since the 2014-15 season, plays in Braves Tip-off Classic in Wilson Field House on Nov. 8-9. Ottawa plays Calvary University at 7 p.m. Friday and Kansas Christian College at 2 p.m. Saturday.