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High-scoring Buckeye women’s basketball looks to improve on .500 start against Winthrop

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Junior guard Ameryst Alston (14) attempts a layup during a game against Pittsburgh on Dec. 3 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 78-74. Credit: James Grega, Jr. / Asst. sports editor

Junior guard Ameryst Alston (14) attempts a layup during a game against Pittsburgh on Dec. 3 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 78-74.
Credit: James Grega, Jr. / Asst. sports editor

Despite boasting two of the top scorers in the nation, the Ohio State women’s basketball has as many losses as wins heading into a matchup with the Winthrop Eagles.

The Buckeyes are 4-4 for the season after losing 78-74 at home against Pittsburgh. Coach Kevin McGuff said the team still has work to do on defense as it moves forward in the season.

“We’re just not good enough defensively,” McGuff said. “We have to get better on the floor for us to make progress.”

Junior guard Cait Craft shared the same sentiment as McGuff and said a lack of solid defense throughout games has been a weakness for OSU.

“We don’t play defense like we want to win,” Craft said. “We’ve proved we can score the basketball, but if you can’t defend, it doesn’t matter who you play, you’re always going to be vulnerable.”

Craft added that she and junior guard Ameryst Alston have tried to take on roles of leadership this season. One thing the pair has tried to instill within the young team is a sense of confidence on the court.

“It’s more frustrating than anything because we know we’re capable,” Craft said. “We could beat anybody we’ve played so far and we just have been losing to teams just basically off pride.”

Freshman guard Kelsey Mitchell continues to be on top of the Buckeyes on offense, as she leads the team in scoring, averaging 26.3 points per game, and leads OSU in field goal attempts per contest at 22.1. McGuff said he realizes how much work Mitchell does, but added that she feels comfortable in that role.

“I’m asking a lot of Kelsey but Kelsey wants a lot to be asked of her,” McGuff said. “There’s a lot being asked of her and we need her and she knows that.”

Mitchell ranks fourth in the nation in scoring while Alston comes in at 13th, averaging 23 points per game. Pittsburgh coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said after the OSU game that the combination of Alston and Mitchell can create problems for opposing defenses.

“Watching Kelsey Mitchell get to the rim with the ease in every game she has played was amazing,” McConnell-Serio said. “Alston is one of the craftiest guards I’ve ever seen — the two of them are so dangerous with the ball in their hands.”

Freshman forward Alexa Hart is expected to have an impact defensively for the Buckeyes as well. Hart leads OSU in rebounding and blocked shots, averaging 8.5 and four respectively per contest. McGuff said there are plans to use Hart more as she continues to improve.

“I think she continues to get better,” McGuff said. “We’re going to ask a lot more of her because we need more out of her. I think the more we ask of her then the quicker she’s going to get where we need her.”

The Buckeyes could enter the game against the Eagles without redshirt-sophomore forward Kalpana Beach. McGuff said Beach is still being monitored following a leg injury suffered in last week’s Paradise Jam tournament, but added that there is chance she could see playing time.

“I think it’s a possibility for Sunday,” McGuff said. “If not that one then good chance the one after that, but she would be day-to-day at this point.”

Beach missed the past two seasons with ACL injuries.

OSU is scheduled to play Winthrop (S.C.) on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.

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