The Ottawa University men’s basketball team is showing signs of adding a stingy defense to its high-powered offense.
The Braves’ defense was a key component in bottling up Baker on Thursday in Wilson Field House. Ottawa kept Baker scoreless for the first six minutes and rode the defense to a 73-64 victory.
Baker shot 35% from the field for the game and a chilly 25% in the first half.
"That was high level (defense)," Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said.
Baker attempts to spread opponents with its four-out and one-in set.
"If you let them pass it around on the perimeter they are going to throw it inside and (the big guy) is going to score," Siebenthall said. "They are bigger than we are. We had to pressure the ball and not let them throw it where they wanted. We had to keep it on the side. Our guys did a great job of that. We rebounded the heck out of the ball for not being very big. It was a good total team effort from our guys defensively."
Siebenthall said Baker is a good team to play in the nonconference portion of the season.
"Coach Sean Dooley is a heck of a coach and does a great job," Siebenthall said. "He’s an old-school coach. He runs a motion offense and tough man-to-man defense. We know they will always be prepared. We knew it would be a test win or lose."
Ottawa is not known for playing a physical style, but the Braves stood up to the bigger Baker squad.
"That was good for us to face that physicality," Siebenthall said. "We will see that in our (conference) almost every night. It was a good challenge for us.
"They have some guys that can really shoot it. The reason they did not shoot it as well was because of us. We did a good job of taking away the catch-and-shoot. For us to rebound the way we did is going to be key for us continuing being successful."
The Baker defense caused Ottawa trouble at times.
"They are good defensively too," Siebenthall said. "We got some good buckets when we needed them. If we were not really good defensively, that is a really close game. We will keep improving and building on that."
Ottawa built a 9-0 lead and stretched the advantage to 21-5 behind the shooting of Mason McDow, who paced the Braves with 20 points and a career-high 14 rebounds.
"Mason is a big reason why we are able to run our offense with that five-out look," Siebenthall said. "He directs traffic in the middle of the floor. He is a heck of a passer. He is a skilled player. He can shoot the ball. He is going to be a force in our league."
Ottawa built a 37-23 halftime lead and opened the second half with a 16-8 run to increase the margin to 22 points (53-31) —the largest of the game — with 15:53 left in the game.
Ottawa then became a bit sloppy on offense with quick shots and turnovers.
"We have to keep the pedal down," Siebenthall said. "We turned it over more than we needed to."
Ottawa placed four players in double figures. Jaquan Daniels finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Andre Jackson tossed in 13 points and had five rebounds. Jackson Mallory had 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and four steals.
"We have a lot of guys that can hurt you out there," Siebenthall said. "We have a lot of weapons. Mason and Jackson Mallory are four-year guys for us. We lean on them in certain times."
No. 14 Ottawa (2-0) opens KCAC play at 7 p.m. Wednesday at home against Saint Mary.