The Ottawa University women’s basketball program schedules tough non-conference teams to challenge the squad.

That mission was accomplished for this season’s team. Ottawa played three NAIA Division I foes and each team challenged the Lady Braves in different areas.

“We play the schedule we do to expose our weaknesses,” Ottawa coach Bruce Tate said. “I love the intensity of the last three games. We got exposed in terms of rebounding, communication and defensive execution.”

Ottawa lost to Benedictine and Baker by a point each and was blown out by Park in Tuesday’s home opener. OU opens conference play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at home against Oklahoma Wesleyan. Tate likes having a week’s practice time to prepare for the rugged KCAC season.

“We got a little time to reflect,” he said. “We have some good stuff on film. It is a lot of little things. Our grit and intensity is going to make the difference.”

Park took Ottawa out of its offensive rhythm.

“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 have to get the ball side-to-side. Teams that guard us well, the first option is not going to be there. We are trying to rely on the first option. They have to rely on each other and not try to make the big play by themselves.”

Ottawa aggressively took the ball to the hoop, shooting nearly 100 free throws in the first three games.

“If we can continue shooting 25 to 30 free throws, I will be pleased with that,” Tate said. “We have to score when the clock is stopped. That allowed us this past weekend to get back into the game.”

Tate said if players trust the ball movement, scoring in the half-court will come easier.

“We have to trust each other and trust the game plan,” he said.