With the Big Ten season around the corner, the Ohio State women’s basketball team is set to end its non-conference season on a high note against No. 22 West Virginia.
The Buckeyes (7-4) and Mountaineers (9-1) are set to complete a home-and-home series dating back to last season, in which the Buckeyes won in Morgantown, W.Va., 70-61. Following that game, the Mountaineers would go on to win 17 of their next 18 games.
Sophomore forward Shayla Cooper said she hopes to make a big impact in her first game for the Buckeyes.
“I’m looking to bring a lot of energy, a lot more rebounding,” Cooper said.
Cooper, a transfer from Georgetown, had to sit out until the end of fall semester due to NCAA transfer rules. In the two games she played for the Hoyas in 2013, she totaled 32 points and 17 rebounds.
She spoke highly of her own defense, which will likely be needed against a deep Mountaineer frontcourt.
“I’m more like the muscle of the team,” Cooper said. “I’m the one that’s going to get those rebounds, like when we played Pitt and we needed that one rebound.”
The Mountaineers frontcourt starts with 6-foot-5 redshirt sophomore center Lanay Montgomery, who has totaled 66 rebounds in 10 starts this season.
OSU coach Kevin McGuff said he was glad to have Cooper as an eligible player on the team.
“It’s good to have her now,” McGuff said. “It’s good to have another body.”
At 6-foot-2, Cooper provides depth, especially since the Buckeyes starting lineup is currently comprised of four guards and only one forward.
One of those guards, junior Ameryst Alston, is looking forward to playing with Cooper for the first time.
“Definitely, really excited to have her back,” Alston said. “I’m really looking forward to playing with her finally, like in an actual game.”
Alston said that Cooper’s presence is also important both offensively and defensively.
“She’s definitely going to bring energy, for sure,” she said. “She’s such a physical player, so that’s definitely something that we need, as far as rebounding.”
In addition to Cooper’s eligibility, freshman forward Alexa Hart was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week, her first weekly award. Alston was also named to the Big Ten Honor Roll.
With a win, the Buckeyes would be on a four-game winning streak heading into conference play. That would be the longest of the season and would be a tie for the longest in the past two seasons under McGuff.
The game against the Mountaineers is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start on Monday at the Schottenstein Center.