The Ottawa University women’s basketball team has life. A week ago, the squad was mired in 11th place and going nowhere.
Three games later, the squad’s play improved, the wins started coming and the team is on the verge of being in the top eight to qualify for the KCAC Tournnament.
The Lady Braves won their third straight game and third in six days with a 75-60 victory Saturday over Southwestern in Wilson Field House.
Ottawa sits just outside the eighth spot heading into this week’s action.
Ottawa coach Bruce Tate said the reason behind the winning streak is doing the little things, which has turned around their season.
“When you have an inconsistent offense, if you are off, you have to find other ways to help this team win,” Tate said. “I am looking for consistency in the things we can control. If you do that, your success rate will definitely be higher. We found a way to win. That is not what the team was doing earlier in the year.”
The squad struggled offensively before last week. The squad came into last week averaging 54 points a game and was coming off a 39-point performance.
“We are chipping away at some things offensively,” Tate said. “We still have a few things in our back pocket that we want to work on. Although we struggled through that stretch (offensively), we were gaining confidence defensively, and we did some things great defensively, but we did not score. It is fun to see them grow defensively.”
The past three games, Ottawa’s scoring has taken steps forward.
“We had to trust the process,” Tate said. “We are putting them in positions to be successful. We have some kids that can penetrate and get down hill. They can get to the free-throw line. The mental toughness (is there). This team has grown and matured. We have some young kids and new (players) in some new positions. Last year, they did not know how to win games. They are finding out how to win some games.”
Tate said playing with an aggressive mindset has been a huge difference.
“Play with that confidence, energy and looseness,” he said. “They are expecting to win.”
Ottawa’s zone defense is cutting down on open shots and penetration. Southwestern scored 87 points in its win in November. Tate said Southwestern in that game penetrated their zone and got a lot of open looks.
“We are so much better than we played them the first time,” Tate said. “We needed to stay connected and focus in on both ends of the floor. Offensively, defensively, if we can stay as one unit, and not be discouraged if a bad play happens, that is key.”
Tate liked how Ottawa stayed the course after Southwestern sliced an 18-point deficit to six at the end of the third quarter.
“In the third quarter, they were making runs and our intensity dropped,” Tate said. “Coach (Brandon) Bedell told them in a timeout to pick that back up. That was key to going from that third to the fourth quarter.”
Ottawa was paced by Madi McAvoy with 19 points. Mariah Grizzle and Liz Vaughn netted 16 points each. Grizzle snared 13 rebounds and Vaughn had 12 boards, three assists and two steals.
Ottawa (5-12, 5-9) plays 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Bethany.