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Jim Massie | The Columbus Dispatch | November 16, 2014

Short in more ways than one

  Ameryst Alston led the Buckeyes in scoring with 27 points in their season opener.

There are two ways to look at the short roster that Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff has available to him at the start of his second season.

He has seven players, the result of one dismissal and three season-ending knee injuries, and that isn't the best situation for a team, given that the risk of foul trouble always is swinging scythe-like overhead.

The seven, however, were good enough to put up 82 points in Friday's opener at Virginia without a hint of foul difficulties. But the Buckeyes (0-1) still lost by five points, which brings up the second set of problems that a short roster can cause.

OHIO STATE'S STARTING LINEUP
POSITION NAME HEIGHT
G Kelsey Mitchell 5-8
G Cait Craft 5-8
G Ameryst Alston 5-9
G Asia Doss 5-7
F Alexa Hart 6-3
McGuff is starting four guards who, at times, looked like munchkins trying to box out the bigger Cavaliers beneath the glass, especially in the second half.

At one point, 5-foot-9 Ameryst Alston had solid inside position on a missed Cavaliers shot, yet Virginia's 6-2 center, Sarah Imovbioh, reached over her to snare one of her program-record 24 rebounds.

"We got a little worn out, and they got more tough rebounds late in the game that really hurt us," McGuff said. "But it's not like we're sitting there saying, 'Boy, we can't make a shot,' which would be a harder thing to fix. I think we can find a way to fix the rebounding."

Yesterday's practice for today's home opener against Saint Francis (Pa.) at Value City Arena dealt with rebounding and defense. This was all right with Alston, who led all scorers with 27 points on Friday.

"Rebounding, for sure," she said. "We did play zone. So we've got to work on finding somebody and getting a body on somebody and really boxing out."

Alston, of course, noticed Imovbioh.

"Credit to her," Alston said after the game. "She did a really good job on the boards. We needed to adjust ... to make sure we boxed her out. I wouldn't say that we were worn out. Everyone can say, 'Oh, they only have seven players.' I'm proud of the way that we played tonight, especially a road game."

The Buckeyes held their own on the glass in the first half, with freshman center Alexa Hart starting and forward Kalpana Beach giving quality minutes off the bench. They combined for 16 rebounds.

Beach played 20 minutes in her first real game since March 2012. She wears the reason on her right knee: a heavy brace to give her support for the two surgeries on her anterior cruciate ligament that cost her the past two seasons.

"I thought Kalpana gave us some great minutes," McGuff said. "She got some tough rebounds. ... I think she'll get there. She just needs to get more comfortable being out there."

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