Third quarters haven't been kind to the Ottawa University women’s basketball team this season. Opponents came into Saturday outscoring Ottawa 200-156 in the third quarter.
That margin grew when Sterling put up 32 points in the third quarter and went on to down Ottawa, 81-50, in Wilson Field House.
“The third quarters have been tough on us,” Ottawa coach Bruce Tate said. “That third quarter, that does not happen much. We don’t give up 32 points in a quarter. The first half, we put ourselves in pretty good position.”
Ottawa rallied within 34-23 at halftime, holding the nationally ranked Sterling squad under its 45-point average in the first half. Tate said the start of the third quarter was disastrous for his team.
“A good team that sees that, they will put their foot on the gas,” Tate said. “That was their opportunity to put us away.”
Sterling increased its lead to 66-38 heading into the fourth quarter and eventually led by 34 points late in the game. Sterling shot 51% from the field. Tate said a sticking point for him was the 19-2 advantage in second-chance points as Sterling snared 17 offensive boards.
“With the team that is third in the nation in field goal percentage, you know they are going to make shots,” he said. “You can’t give them second-chance points. They worked to do that.”
Another big difference was the three-point shooting. Sterling was 7-13, while Ottawa went 6-23.
“We have to play more as a team to get easier buckets versus them being able to create,” Tate said. "That is a big gap to fill. We can’t have our best three-point shooter go 0-5. We had decent looks. They did a great job of keeping us off the free-throw line. We are averaging 33 attempts per game. We have to find a way to get to the rim.”
Tate said Sterling made sure Mariah Grizzle wasn't going to have a big game offensively by double- and triple-teaming her in the lane.
“Good coaches and good teams are going to take away our strengths,” Tate said. “We have to knock down open shots. We are not built to create our own shots. We have to be able to set screens. Our kids strengths have to impact the game. We are trying to shorten the game as much as we can.”
Kelsey Hendricks hit all four of her shots en route to 10 points.
“Kelsey — when she shoots the basketball — she does some good things,” Tate said. “It was good for her to do that.”
Grizzle paced Ottawa with 11 points.
Ottawa (2-11, 2-8) plays Wednesday in Salina against Kansas Wesleyan, which sits in second behind Sterling in the KCAC standings.
Tate said the schedule-makers weren't kind to Ottawa as the Lady Braves open the second half of the season with the top two teams in the KCAC in back-to-back games.
“We have to get consistent,” Tate said. “We have to find high percentage shots.”