Braves looking to make late-season run

Greg Mast
The Ottawa Herald

The Ottawa University men’s basketball team’s goal is to make a late-season run and be primed for postseason play.

The Braves have been bothered by the pandemic and not having consistency in games or practice.

“We knew it would be a wild year,” Ottawa coach Aaron Siebenthall said. “We have to keep focusing on what we do. Because we have been in and out of practice and quarantine, it has taken these guys awhile to figure out roles and identities.”

The Braves began their late season push Wednesday night with an intense victory over Southwestern. Ottawa won 93-88, avenging a 92-83 loss to the Moundbuilders nine days ago.

Ottawa University senior Andre Jackson protects the ball from the Southwestern defense as he shoots a runner in the lane.

“That was a wild, crazy game,” Siebenthall said. “That is what conference basketball is all about. It was a dogfight. That is a really good team we just beat. They are hotter than anybody in the league. I am glad our guys can focus and lock in.

“We play everybody twice normally. It is tougher and weirder this year. In a normal year, we would have played these guys three months ago. Now we are playing a week away.”

The teams went hard at each other with players feeling the effects of the game.

“Both teams were getting hurt,” Siebenthall said. “The crowd was getting into it. Wilson Field House was rocking again tonight. We’ve missed that atmosphere. It spurred us on in the second half.”

The coach said if Ottawa can continue to improve in all facets, the Braves will be a tough out in postseason.

“Our goal has to be to come back in practice and everybody get a little bit better (each day],” he said. “By the time the tournament comes around, we will be a team people will not want to see.

“Our guys are taking things personally. They are being competitive.”

The Braves were slow offensively at the start of the game, falling behind 18-10. Southwestern led 31-30 at halftime.

“We were not great offensively in the first half,” Siebenthall said. “We were good enough defensively. We made shots to hang in there when it was not going well for us. If we will guard and board, things will take care of itself.”

Senior guard Perry Carroll got it rolling in the second half and finished with a career-best 32 points.

“Perry stepped up,” Siebenthall said. ‘He did a great job. We had a lot of good contributions from a lot of people. It was a fun win.”

Andre Jackson had 22 points and a team-high eight rebounds.

Ottawa (10-6, 7-6) plays 7 p.m. Saturday on the road against Tabor College.