OU women searching for rhythm

Greg Mast
Ottawa University junior forward Kanecia Payne powers up a shot over Bethany defenders. Payne scored a team-best 13 points in the 66-57 loss.

The Ottawa University women’s basketball team needs rhythm to its season.

The Lady Braves played their first game in 21 days Saturday in Wilson Field House. Ottawa’s play was ragged at times but also displayed some really good moments in a 66-57 loss to Bethany.

Ottawa never led, but gave Bethany — one of the favorites in the KCAC — a game.

“They are going to fight,” Ottawa coach Tarnieha Scott said. “They are going to fight every minute. We can build on that. We have a group of (players) that have bought into our system.”

Ottawa’s defense showed improvement during the layoff, but the offense needs more continuity.

“Our defense was good, but we did not rebound it well,” Scott said. “We have to do a better job of rebounding. We have to put together a complete 40 minutes. We see some good moments, then we have a lot of bad moments.”

Ottawa surrendered 11 offensive rebounds in the first half, finished with 23 turnovers and shot a chilly 33% from the field.

“Our entire practice is defense,” Scott said. “We are working on different defenses the whole time. I saw a lot of improvement.”

Ottawa surrendered 70-plus points in each of the first three games in early November.

Scott liked how the squad responded in the second half on the boards, giving up one offensive rebound.

“We strongly talked about rebounding,” she said. “They listened.”

Ottawa came out slow offensively, falling behind 12-5, but rallied within 12-10. Bethany led 21-13 at the end of the first quarter.

Both teams were cold and stagnant offensively in the second quarter.

“That was the moment,” Scott said. “Both teams were getting stops.”

Ottawa trailed 37-27 at halftime. Bethany hit Ottawa hard in the the third quarter, building a 58-33 lead late in the third quarter.

“On offense, we could have made better decisions,” Scott said. “We have to work on our decision-making. (The turnovers) were a lot of carelessness. Not getting two hands on the ball on the catch. Lobbing the ball and making bad passes. We can clean that up.”

Ottawa made a strong push late in the third quarter and all of the fourth. Ottawa ended the quarter on a 6-0 run and outscored Bethany, 18-8, in the fourth quarter. The catalyst was the press.

“It was successful because the (players) believed and they worked hard,” Scott said.

Ottawa also got the ball inside to the post players during the late run.

“Our posts worked hard with their positioning,” Scott said. “Our posts are getting a lot of attention. Our guards have to hit wide open shots. Once you get into a rhythm (of playing), you make shots.”

Kanecia Payne came off the bench to pace Ottawa with 13 points and seven rebounds. Moriah Grizzle finished with 11 points and five rebounds.

Ottawa (0-4, 0-3) will play at 5 p.m. Wednesday at home against Avila University.

Ottawa University women's basketball coach Tarniesha Scott gives some pointers to junior guard Amyr Lowe during a break of Saturday's loss to Bethany.