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Ohio State women's basketball team off to solid start

Despite injuries, a suspension, and adversity, new head coach Kevin McGuff began his tenure with the Buckeyes in the win column.

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Kevin McGuff era is off to a good start, as the Buckeyes posted gritty victories in their first two games of the season.

The wins came despite injuries and the absence of junior guard Raven Ferguson. One of three returning starters from last season's squad, Ferguson was suspended on Thursday for three games for violating team rules.

"[Raven] is a good kid, but her actions have not been in line with what the standards of this program are and will be in the future," McGuff said in a release.

Ferguson's absence, along with an injury to junior guard Maleeka Kynard, has enabled the backcourt of Ameryst Alston and Cait Craft to shine through the first two contests. The pair paced the Buckeyes to a 70-61 victory in the season opener against West Virginia in Morgantown on Friday. Alston scored a career-high 29 points, with Craft chipping in 15, and the team's defense held the Mountaineers to just over 30 percent shooting.

"I'll remember that we overcame the most adversity that our team has ever faced," Craft said. "We had people with injuries. We had people sick. We had people out. And we didn't let that bother us at all."

Alston and Craft also lead the way in the team's home opener on Sunday, a 91-88 victory over Florida Atlantic at Value City Arena. Craft scored a career-high 29 points, while Alston added 28. Senior centers Ashley Adams and Darryce Moore also racked up double-doubles in the effort.

The Buckeyes will look to keep their record flawless this week, but will be tested. They will host Virginia Commonwealth on Thursday evening before traveling to the University of Georgia to take on the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs on Sunday.

For now, though, Kevin McGuff can feel good about the grittiness his team has showed as he has begun his tenure in Columbus.

"We played hard and we competed," McGuff said. "We faced some adversity, but we fought right through it and stayed together as a team."