After splitting the first two games of the season, the Ohio State women’s basketball team will look to gain momentum against a physical No. 24 Georgia team.
After losing on the road to Virginia and beating St. Francis (Pa.) in a game where the Buckeyes scored 113 points, the Buckeyes are now focused on the visiting Bulldogs. Junior guard Ameryst Alston said she recognizes that the Bulldogs are a quality team.
“Last year, I thought they were a pretty good team,” Alston said. “They have really good guard play and some pretty good post, so overall as a team, I think they’re pretty good.”
OSU lost, 53-49, on the road last season to the Bulldogs. Coach Kevin McGuff said the team struggled offensively in that game and wasn’t able to make enough plays toward the end.
“We had a hard time putting the ball in the basket,” McGuff said. “It was kind of an ugly game I think for both teams last year, and they made more plays down the stretch than we did, which is why they won and deserved to win.”
The Buckeyes shot just 14.3 percent from the field in the second half of last year’s game and were six for 11 from the free throw line. Alston said she blames the loss on a lack of focus from the team.
“It came down to a little mental toughness,” Alston said. “I think overall we played really well as a team, and it was just a couple missed assignments.”
OSU will look to gain an advantage in the post against Georgia. Freshman forward Alexa Hart, who had eight blocks and 11 rebounds in the game against St. Francis, said she plans to use her agility to be a threat on defense.
“From what the coaches have been saying, their post players are really physical,” Hart said. “I plan to use my speed to get around them and still be able to protect the basket at all times.”
McGuff added that he’s been impressed with what he’s seen from Hart when she’s outside of the paint.
“She’s done a little more away from the basket than I thought she’d be able to do,” McGuff said. “That’s what probably surprised me the most about her, but it’s great.”
The Buckeyes will also look to redshirt-sophomore forward Kalpana Beach to provide help in the post. Beach, who returned to the team this year after suffering ACL injuries in each of the last two seasons, had 12 points and nine rebounds in the win against St. Francis.
“I’m just really excited for her to be able to have the opportunity to be out on the court,” McGuff said. “She’s worked incredibly hard to put herself in this position so I’m just really happy for her that she’s out there and she’s contributing.”
McGuff said he’s seen Beach work hard in the first games of the season and expects her to be back to her old self sooner than later.
“You can’t really get that back until you do it in a game setting,” McGuff said. “Already since the scrimmage, the exhibition and the two regular season games, she’s made progress, and I think she’s really kind of on the fast track of getting back to 100 percent very quickly.”
For the game against the Bulldogs, McGuff said the team will need to play tough if it wants to win.
“They play really hard and they’re really physical so we’re going to have to bring our hard hats for 40 minutes to compete against them,” McGuff said.
OSU is scheduled to play Georgia on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center.