As the sunset fell on the Charleston Harbor in South Carolina in November 2012, the rays radiating into the faces of the Ohio State and Notre Dame women’s basketball players during the Carrier Classic, then-freshman guard Ameryst Alston lined up on the charity stripe for the first time in her collegiate career.
After a couple of warmup dribbles to get a feel of the leather ball, Alston hit nothing but nylon to score her first point sporting the scarlet and gray.
The first-year player would finish the game only scoring three points in the 21 minutes that she played, but, as the season progressed, Alston created a name for herself in the Buckeye rotation. Eventually, she would become one of the more pivotal players in the program’s history.
Fast forward three years, 12 weeks and three days, and there was just under 1:30 to play in the third quarter in the Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The No. 7 ranked Buckeyes were leading the Iowa Hawkeyes at their home gym, 76-59.
As the clock ticked down, Alston, now a senior, made a stutter-step move from the right wing toward the basket, dribbling to the opposite side of the cylinder, where she pulled up and connected on a short jumper.
Usually, a late-game score to put a team up 19 points like Alston’s would be nothing but a trifling tally on a box score. Except that pull-up jumper was not usual — it was historic.
With the make, Alston surpassed the 2,000-point scoring mark, making her only the sixth OSU women’s basketball player to achieve the milestone.
Instead of cracking an immediate smile and having play stop to send the ball over to the bench to celebrate an archival moment of her career, Alston did what she had done after scoring all the other 1,998 points over the past four years: hustle down to the other end of the court to play defense.
That is just who Alston is: a selfless player who is obsessed with earning team accomplishments instead of impressive individual accolades.
“I’m really close with her, and I didn’t even know she was close to 2,000 points,” senior guard and four-year teammate Cait Craft said. “She never spoke about it, and even when she scored her 1,000th, I had no idea it was coming.”
Alston was solely a role player when she came onto the scene in Columbus. It wasn’t necessarily her fault, though, as it was just because of all the talent that the Buckeyes had at the time, including Tayler Hill (who Alston just passed on the scoring list) and Amber Stokes, both of whom would go on to sign professional contracts.
At the time, Jim Foster was at the helm of the OSU program, but he would be relieved from the position for a lack of postseason victories.
The program then turned to former Washington coach Kevin McGuff in April 2013 for guidance.
Upon arrival in Ohio’s capital city, McGuff said he was comforted by the fact that he was inheriting a talent like Alston, who was only going to be heading into her sophomore year.
“When I got here I was obviously excited to have her in the program,” McGuff said. “I knew she could be a big piece of (OSU) kind of rebuilding the program, and she has certainly been that.”
In McGuff’s first year as coach, Alston had a remarkable sophomore campaign, receiving a first-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches and the media. She scored 19 points per game and also led the team with 112 total assists.
Coming into her junior year, the Buckeyes were able to pick up a couple of premier recruits and transfers, including McDonald’s All-American and the nation’s leading high school scorer in 2014-15, Kelsey Mitchell.
The influx of improving talent might have created a feeling of anxiety for a player who wanted to be the face of a program. For Alston, this was not so.
“She was our main scorer and our go-to person our sophomore year, and then last year we had a bunch of young talent come in, and that never really bothered her,” Craft said. “It wasn’t just all on her anymore. There were other people to help her, but she took it in stride and she understood that was what was best for the team.”
As a junior, Alston finished the year with 694 points, averaging 19.8 points per game and earning another All-Big Ten selection. She helped the Buckeyes become runner-ups in the Big Ten tournament before leading them to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where OSU would eventually fall to North Carolina by one basket.
Now Alston, who is one of the two seniors on the team, has progressively become a vocal leader, as well as a leader by example, which she said is something she grew into over her four years in Columbus.
“Being vocal is not something that I came in here with,” Alston said. “Now, I’m just trying to help give direction.”
OSU is currently 21-4 and 13-1 in conference play, and it is in the midst of a nine-game winning streak. Even with all the success the Buckeyes are having and scoring her 2,000th point, there are still goals that Alston and her squad have with four games left in the regular season. And those start with cashing in on the promising postseason future OSU looks to have.
“We are just taking it one game at a time,” Alston said. “The goal is to win every game and to hopefully get a Big Ten championship.”
As Alston continues to be one of the Buckeyes’ go-to scorers this season, she will continue to rise on the all-time scoring list in OSU basketball history. With 2,032 points and counting to her name, only three players are above her.
Of the trio, Jessica Davenport’s third-place position with 2,303 points is the only one in jeopardy.
Even so, the humble Alston never truly had a passion to score 2,000 points in her collegiate career. Her prerogative was always staying focused on her mission of the team winning games.
“(Scoring 2,000 points is) actually not something I think about … It just kind of comes with it,” Alston said. “This year has been very special in terms of our success as a team. It’s always great, and fun, when you’re winning.”
The next chance for Alston and her team to keep winning is set for Thursday, as OSU is scheduled to take on Nebraska at 6 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.