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‘Championship culture’ the goal for Ohio State women’s basketball

Sophomore guard Ameryst Alston (14) drives to the basket during a game against Iowa Jan. 19 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 81-74. Credit: Ryan Robey / For The Lantern

Sophomore guard Ameryst Alston (14) drives to the basket during a game against Iowa Jan. 19 at the Schottenstein Center. OSU lost, 81-74.
Credit: Ryan Robey / For The Lantern

Despite having a new coaching staff and playing the hardest schedule in the country, the Ohio State women’s basketball team is three games above .500 on the year and has plenty to look forward to on the season.

The Buckeyes (12-9, 2-3) are led in scoring by sophomore guard Ameryst Alston, who is averaging 17 points per game and was a two-time Associated Press Ms. Basketball in the state of Ohio while at Canton McKinley High School.

OSU has also received key contributions this season from another sophomore guard, Cait Craft, who leads the team in 3-pointers.

Craft, who is averaging 8.8 points a game so far this season, said the OSU program has a very bright future.

“I do have a lot of confidence in the team, especially this year,” Craft said. “I have a lot confidence with the new coaching staff. Everyone is buying into their system which makes it a lot of fun.”

OSU coach Kevin McGuff is not only trying to change the culture of the program, but his attempts to bring in the nation’s best players are not going unnoticed. OSU’s 2014 recruiting class is ranked No. 7 in the country, according to ESPN.

Not only has McGuff signed a top-10 recruiting class, he has also brought in two transfers from power conference schools, Georgetown and Duke.

Freshman guard Kianna Holland from Duke and freshman forward Shayla Cooper from Georgetown are set to join the team on the court after Fall Semester exams are finished.

Even with everything building toward the future, McGuff said he is still focused on the current season.

“I have not thought too much about next year,” McGuff said. “When I think about the future, it is just about creating a championship culture.”

Creating that culture could be made easier by the return of Alston and Craft to the lineup — both lead the team in average minutes per game — as well as redshirt-junior guard Amy Scullion, who is set to return next year as a fifth-year senior.

Scullion, who leads the team in 3-point shooting percentage, said expectations are high going forward.

“I want us to make the (NCAA) tournament,” Scullion said about the current Buckeye team. “I think coach McGuff has done a great job of changing the culture of this program and he has made it a winning program.”

The Buckeyes missed out on the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since the 2001-02 season, ultimately leading to the firing of former coach Jim Foster. OSU also finished tied for eighth in the Big Ten last season, tied for their worst finish in the conference since the 2000-01 season.

The Buckeyes are looking to further the winning culture this Thursday, as they are set to travel to Ann Arbor to take on Michigan (13-5, 4-1) at 7 p.m.

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