Defensive intensity and execution dictates a lot of times how successful basketball teams can be. The Ottawa University women’s basketball struggled in those areas Tuesday in the home opener at Wilson Field House.
An athletic Park University squad shot 56 percent from the field, including a blistering 61 percent in the first half. It resulted in a blowout loss, 70-50, to Park.
“Defensively, we had a decent game plan,” Ottawa coach Bruce Tate said. “We tried to change defenses as much as possible and keep them out of their comfort zone. When we are going to try and take away the post on the front side, our back side has to be there [to help]. We have to be on the same page defensively. Our defense is predicated on not giving up the gap. We gave up direct drives to the rim. They converted. They shot it well. When they got open looks on the three-point line, they drained them. We did not do a great job of making them uncomfortable. When a team shoots over 50 percent, that means they are in rhythm. I went to man, zone and pressure defenses. They are an experienced team. They were pretty efficient offensively.”
Conversely, the Lady Braves offense had trouble against the taller Park squad. Ottawa shot 33 percent from the field and was A chilly 19-of-35 from the free-throw line.
“We are still trying to figure out who will score in certain situations for us,” Tate said. “We have to do a better job of playing basketball and reading defenses. Our offense is predicated on reading. We talked about the back doors. When we executed, we got decent looks. At some point in the third quarter, it was one pass, head down and [attempt] to create on their own. At times, that is good. When there is not a lot of ball movement, we will be easy to guard. A lot of one-and-outs. We did not get the hustle points that we needed to.”
Tate liked the aggressiveness, which forced Park to foul.
“We are going to get to the free-throw line,” Tate said. “We have been there more than 25 times in each of the past three games. Teams are going to have to prepare for that. We have to make those too. We have to score when the clock is stopped. That allowed us this past weekend to get back into the game.”
Ottawa stayed on the heels of Park for a quarter-and-a-half. The Lady Braves climbed within 21-17 in the second quarter only to see Park take control of the game. Park outscored Ottawa 15-6 the rest of the half and turned a 36-23 halftime lead into a 55-35 bulge at the end of the third quarter.
Ottawa did rally in the fourth, pulling within 12 with 4:41 left in the game.
“We have to be consistent,” Tate said. “We have to trust each other and trust the game plan. We got out of character. It could be a little hangover from the weekend.”
Mariah Grizzle paced Ottawa with 15 points and four rebounds. Avery Lewman and Katlyn Hughes netted eight points each.
Ottawa (0-3) plays next Wednesday in the KCAC opener at home against Oklahoma University.