The Ottawa University women’s basketball team needs time to be a cohesive unit.
The program, under first-year coach Tarniesha Scott and new players — from all across the nation — were thrown together this fall.
Team defense has been the most glaring area that needs improvement after two games. Ottawa surrenders 80 points a game. Saint Mary took advantage of Ottawa’s lack of cohesive defense and topped the Braves, 82-74, Wednesday, in Wilson Field House.
Saint Mary shot 44% from the field and had a 44-37 rebounding edge.
"A lot of our struggles right now are buying in and doing some of the small things," Scott said. "We have to rebound the ball better. We have to get stops on defense, be more disciplined there. We can’t give up 80-plus points. If we don’t play defense, it will be tough to beat anybody."
Saint Mary took charge midway through the second quarter with a 17-5 run after Ottawa took a 30-28 lead. Saint Mary led 45-35 at halftime.
Ottawa came within five points late in the third quarter, but could not come any closer the rest of the game.
Scott said the players willing to work and soak up her teaching.
"We have to learn fast," she said. "I have a group of girls that are committed. We are committed to learning. These kids have been all-in since day one. The returners have been very welcoming. They have embraced every philosophy and every idea with open arms. We have to let it translate to the game."
Scott saw the players give everything in both games.
"They are going to fight," she said. "We have to put pieces together."
Junior guard Haley Anderson paced Ottawa with 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals. Scott said Anderson, who struggled in the opener, responded with a nice performance in all facets.
Juniors Mariah Grizzle and Liz Vaughn netted 14 points apiece. Madi McAvoy finished with 10 points.
Scott said the next progression is learning more about each other.
"Some of that will come with time," she said. "It has been fun getting kids from all over the country with different backgrounds. You get something different from every (player). We have to do a better job in how to use them and make them be more successful."