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Lady Braves put all pieces together for first win

Greg Mast
gmast@ottawaherald.com
Ottawa University junior Jalisa Simon applies defensive pressure against Avila Wednesday in Wilson Field House. Team defense was a catalyst in Ottawa's first win of the season. [PHOTO BY GREG MAST/THE OTTAWA HERALD].

The Ottawa University women’s basketball team put all facets together for the first time this season.

The Lady Braves defense was suffocating at times, the shots began falling, and dominated the boards. It all resulted in an 80-59 victory over Avila Wednesday at Wilson Field House.

It was the first victory of the season and in the Tarniesha Scott era.

“You can be preaching the same thing all year then all of a sudden it clicks,” Scott said. “We have talked about these things since the very first game. You have to be patient and stay the course.

“It feels amazing and a weight lifted. They came out and did what I knew we could do all along. Tough times have brought us together. Hopefully this jump starts us. We got the monkey off our back. They will play a little more free after getting the first one out of the way.”

Ottawa shot a season-best 45 percent from the field and finished with a 51-28 rebounding advantage. Ottawa snared 20 offensive boards.

“In those first four games, we were getting pieces,” Scott said. “We would have a bad defensive night. We would come back and play better defense and we could not rebound it or score it. We were able to put it all together. They played for each other.”

The defense, keyed by Ottawa’s ability to disrupt the passing lanes, made it difficult on Avila.

“We did a great job in making them take tough shots,” Scott said. “We played team defense.”

The players and the coaches are showing signs of meshing together.

“That came with time,” Scott said. “It came with getting people healthy. You start to get a feel for your rotations. Who can play well together. They did a great job of executing the game plan.

“They have been working hard. They have been resilient and consistent in their effort. There have been a lot of changes going on with COVID-19. They stayed the course. I am proud of them fighting through every obstacle.”

Ottawa had three players in double figures. Haylie Anderson led Ottawa with 23 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals.

Mariah Grizzle and Kenecia Payne netted 15 points each. Aleesha Cooks finished with a game-high six assists. Amyr Lowe had five assists and seven rebounds.

Ottawa (1-4, 1-3) will not play Saturday at Bethel as scheduled. Officials are looking for a replacement game.

Ottawa University junior Moriah Grizzle makes a quick and strong move to the basket. She netted 15 points in Ottawa's 80-59 win over Avila. [PHOTO BY GREG MAST/THE OTTAWA HERALD].