Ohio State women beat James Madison 90-80 in NCAAs
Mar. 21, 2015
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — All those freshmen at Ohio State get to stick around their first NCAA Tournament for a little while longer.
The Buckeyes beat James Madison 90-80 on Saturday in the first round of the Greensboro Regional behind 28 points from Ameryst Alston.
Big Ten co-player of the year Kelsey Mitchell added 23 points and fellow freshman Alexa Hart finished with 20 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots for fifth-seeded Ohio State (24-10).
The Buckeyes — who started three freshmen and bring sophomore Shayla Cooper off the bench — shot 58 percent in the second half and scored on seven consecutive possessions down the stretch.
"Obviously, when you get to this time of the year (and) you have kids who have experienced it, that can be beneficial," Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. "But I also think for kids who haven't, then have that youthful energy and that passion to be a part of it. ... That can take you a long way."
Mitchell insisted she had wasn't nervous at all heading into her first NCAA Tournament game — and then she played like it.
"It's pretty normal, but it comes with who I am," Mitchell said. "I guess that's something that's not going to change."
Next up: A second-round matchup against host North Carolina, the No. 4 seed, on Monday night.
Precious Hall had 28 points on 10-of-30 shooting while Ashley Perez added 20 points with six 3-pointers for the 12th-seeded Dukes (29-4).
They hit 10 3s but had their six-game winning streak snapped.
Ohio State won its 13th in 16 games and earned its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2011 while avoiding its fourth one-and-done since 2007.
"We knew we weren't going to be able to exploit their youth, because they're so talented," James Madison coach Kenny Brooks said.
The Dukes pulled to 69-66 on Perez's sixth 3-pointer of the game with 6½ minutes left. Ohio State responded with its most efficient stretch of the game, with Cooper putting the Buckeyes up 80-71 with 3:48 left. By that point, all James Madison could do was continue to trade baskets.
"They took us out of rhythm," Brooks said. "We would hit some shots, and they would answer."
Hart hit layups about a minute apart before Alston put Ohio State up 87-77 with a free throw with 1:01 left.
Cooper finished with 11 points for the Buckeyes. Three times in the first 11 minutes of the second half, they pushed their lead into double figures — only to have the Dukes shoot their way back into it. Perez buried corner 3s about 75 seconds apart to pull James Madison to 67-63 with about 8½ minutes left.
Alston — who was 12 of 16 from the line — made more free throws than James Madison attempted. Ohio State was 26 of 34 from the line while the Dukes took just 10, making nine.
Ohio State had someone on the bench who knows how to win at North Carolina's Carmichael Arena: Assistant Joy Cheek played for Duke from 2006-10 and was an assistant at her alma mater from 2011 until she joined the Buckeyes' staff in 2013.
James Madison: Angela Mickens finished with 11 assists. ... The Dukes were making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance.
Ohio State: Mitchell finished with her 25th 20-point game of the season.
James Madison: Season over.
Ohio State: Plays North Carolina on Monday night in the second round.
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