Braves feed off Wilson atmosphere

Greg Mast
Ottawa University guard Ian Moore slides through the Friends defense in the lane and draws a foul. Moore netted a team-best 19 points in Ottawa's 87-76 victory. [PHOTO BY GREG MAST/THE OTTAWA HERALD].

The Ottawa University men’s basketball team feeds off the energy in Wilson Field House.

The atmosphere with about 100 fans along with the cheerleaders, dance team and pep band, had the juices flowing.

The Braves found that extra gear in the second half to pull away for an 87-76 win over Friends Wednesday in the historic gym.

“We enjoy playing here,” Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “The good news is we have a great home atmosphere. The bad news is we have to play half our games on the road. We have to figure out a way to get on a bus and get a win. We will have a good opportunity to do that on Saturday.”

The win snapped a three-game slide with all those games on the road. Ottawa won all three home games so far this season.

“We got the monkey off our back,” Siebenthall said. “Winning is nice. At this time of year, we have to keep improving every day.”

Ottawa’s game took a leap forward in the second half, spurred by the defense. The game was tied at 43 at halftime, but the defense catapulted Ottawa to a 41-21 run in the second half.

“We have to figure out a way to come out and play closer to 40 minutes and not 20 or 30 minutes,” Siebenthall said. “The second half, we took a step forward. We played well in the second half against Kansas Wesleyan [on Monday].

“We have been scoring like that in most games. The difference is we weren’t getting stops to negate them from scoring back and forth. We are gifted offensively. We have the opportunity to be a really good defensive team. Our defensive breakdowns are where we are missing our reps. We have not had the practice. We have to keep repping it and watching film. These guys are too gifted on each end of the floor to not be better defensively. They have shown flashes of how good they can be on both ends.”

Ottawa became the aggressor in the second, which appeared to turn the tide.

“They were outworking us,” Siebenthall said about the first half. “They were more competitive. We were letting them bring it to us instead of us bringing it to them.’

Ottawa returned to balanced scoring with four players in double figures. Guard Ian Moore led the Braves with 19 points as he hit 5-of-11 shots from behind the arc.

“Ian is a really talented guy,” Siebenthall said. “He fits in well with how we play. He can shoot. The way we play, if we are moving the ball, we are going to get a good shot from a good shooter. When guys are hot, they will find them. That is unselfishness.”

Joe Johnson III finished with 18 points. Jaquan Daniels scored 16 points and Andre Jackson had 15 points and five assists.

Ottawa (3-3, 1-3) plays 5 p.m. Saturday at Sterling.

Ottawa University senior Andre Jackson powers his way to the basket. He fired in 15 points and was one of four Braves in double figures against Friends. [PHOTO BY GREG MAST/THE OTTAWA HERALD].