Playing back-to-back-to-back games is something usually reserved for postseason conference tournaments, but that is exactly what the Ohio State Women's Basketball team faced last weekend as part of the Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge.
The Buckeyes won two of three, downing Old Dominion on Friday and Marist on Saturday before running out of steam against Bowling Green on Sunday, improving their mark to 5-2 on the season.
Head Coach Kevin McGuff knew entering the three-game, three-night stretch that the team would be tested, as the roster sits at just eleven players.
"The plan would be to be a little deeper," McGuff said. "We can only go so deep, because we've only got so many people."
Sophomore guard Ameryst Alston continued her strong play in the early season, pacing the team's 75-60 victory over Old Dominion on Friday night with 19 points. Senior center Darryce Moore chipped in a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, and the Buckeyes played tenacious defense, forcing 24 turnovers.
"I thought our defense was much better today and I think that was a reflection of us being able to play more people," McGuff said. "We were a little more fresh out there and we were able to put a little more pressure on the ball, which I thought was disruptive to Old Dominion."
Twenty-four hours later, Alston converted a three-point play with 44 seconds on the clock to give the Buckeyes the lead for good against Marist. In a game in which they faced a double-digit second half deficit, Ohio State fought back to down the Red Fox 62-59, keyed by Moore's 17 points.
"You just have to band together and push each other," Moore said.
Fatigue finally caught up to the Buckeyes on Sunday afternoon against Bowling Green. The Falcons dropped 12 three-pointers en route to a 64-52 win. Ameryst Alston led three scorers in double figures for Ohio State with 15 points, but a team field goal percentage of 25 percent was too much to overcome.
"They deserved to win. They played harder and had more fight and executed better," McGuff said. "We got a little tired, but both teams were playing their third game in three days. We didn't respond with toughness and execution when we got tired. We had a few letdowns while Bowling Green played through their fatigue, and that was ultimately the difference in the game."
The Buckeyes will need to recover quickly, as they host Lehigh tonight at Value City Arena before beginning an even more daunting stretch in their schedule, facing three Top-25 teams in the span of a week. That gauntlet will begin with a showdown against top-ranked Connecticut in Springfield, Massachusetts to conclude the Hall of Fame Challenge on Sunday.
A trip to 8th-ranked Maryland and a home game against 24th-ranked Gonzaga will follow next week