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Ohio State women’s basketball focused on Penn State

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Junior guard Raven Ferguson (31) blows past a defender during a game against Old Dominion Nov. 22 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU won, 75-60.
Credit: Liz Young / Campus editor

A 12-7 (2-1) record is not exactly a stellar start to the 2013-14 season for the women’s basketball team. However, with 13 games left in the regular season, the year is far from over.

Despite seven losses, the Buckeyes are coming off of arguably their biggest win of the year, knocking then-No. 22 Indiana from the ranks of the unbeaten and out of the top 25 in a 70-51 win Saturday.

Part of the Buckeyes’ struggles might be their tough schedule, which is ranked as the hardest in the country according to Women’s Basketball State, a website that specializes in women’s basketball statistics.

The tough schedule is something coach Kevin McGuff said will help his team down the stretch.

“We have faced a variety of styles. We have faced big teams and small teams,” McGuff said. “All of that together, I think, has really put us in a good position to kind of embrace the great challenge of the Big Ten schedule.”

Of OSU’s remaining 13 games, four come against opponents currently ranked in the top 25. OSU plays No. 16 Penn State twice (Thursday on the road and Feb. 9 at home) No. 18 Nebraska (Feb. 20) and No. 22 Purdue (Feb. 6) a team the Buckeyes beat 89-78 in Columbus Jan. 2.

McGuff said a key to success for the rest of the season is keeping their eye on the prize.

“We will not beat one single team in this league if we do not have great focus and concentration,” McGuff said.

Sophomore point guard Ameryst Alston has been an important asset to the team so far this season. She has played in every game and currently leads the team in average points per game with 16.9. Her 29-point performance at Indiana matched her career high and earned her Big Ten Player of the week honors.

“It’s a blessing and it does feel great,” Alston said of the honors. “Hard works pays off.”

Alston is not the only player on this OSU team that has contributed to their improved play, with the Buckeyes winning five of their last six games.

Junior guard Raven Ferguson has also stepped up her game as of late, recording a career-high 18 points in the win against Indiana.

“This was Raven’s best game all year,” McGuff said in a press release following the win against Indiana. “She generated a lot of offense for herself and her teammates.”

Ferguson said the win against Indiana gave her and her team confidence going forward.

“It is something we can build on for the future,” Ferguson said. “It was just a confidence builder because I had not been playing well.”

Ferguson is one of five players averaging more than nine points per game, something that she said is a big positive going forward.

“It helps us as a team knowing that anybody can score,” Ferguson said. “That is the main thing … putting points on the board and getting everybody to contribute.”

The Buckeyes are set to take on the Nittany Lions in State College, Pa., Thursday at 7 p.m.

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