COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) No. 10 Ohio State shook off some bad news and came away with a win Sunday.
The Buckeyes played without one starter, one reserve and an assistant coach, all serving one-game suspensions, and still beat North Carolina A&T 89-56.
Starting forward Shayla Cooper and reserve guard Chelsea Mitchell sat for conduct detrimental to the team, and assistant coach Mark Mitchell – Chelsea’s father – missed the game for what was termed a personnel issue.
Kelsey Mitchell, who is Chelsea’s sister and Mark’s daughter, led Ohio State (6-3) with 22 points. Ameryst Alston added 20, Alex Hart had 14 and Asia Doss had 11.
”We try not to let that affect anything we do,” Kelsey Mitchell said of the suspensions. ”We’re going to leave that to the ones that are in charge, the head coaches and the administrators. It has nothing to do with us, so we were just trying to focus on what we could and try to buy into what coach needed us to do and let everything else take care of itself.”
Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff announced the suspensions shortly before the game with a two-sentence press release and did not elaborate afterward other than to say he does not expect the suspensions to continue.
”No. 1 our players handled it great, and I was really proud of their effort and everything they did today,” McGuff said. ”Beyond that I’ll just let the statement stand for itself.”
The Buckeyes took control with an early 15-0 run that started with Mitchell setting up an easy layup for Hart and ended with a 3-pointer by Mitchell.
Ohio State led 45-22 at halftime and extended the lead to as many as 24 in the third quarter.
McGuff called timeout after what he felt was a sluggish first 2 minutes of the fourth quarter, and the Buckeyes responded with an 8-0 run.
They ended up outscoring the visitors 22-5 in the fourth quarter.
”We lost our focus and our intensity,” Kelsey Mitchell said. ”He said `Don’t let the score dictate how you play.”’
Kala Green scored 17 points to lead the Aggies (3-6), while Aprill McCrae had 12 and Adriana Nazaro added 10.
Doss also had a season-high in points, topping the nine she scored in her previous outing against Cincinnati.
Redshirt freshman Makayla Waterman started in place of Cooper and had three points and five rebounds while playing a career-high 21 minutes.
Hart grabbed a game- and season-high 11 rebounds and posted her first double-double of the season.
QUOTE OF THE NIGHT
”I just finally found my rhythm,” Hart said after her second consecutive double-figure scoring performance. ”I’ve been working hard in practice, just doing the little things, finally moving around instead of always being stationary. Moving around and using my athleticism against other opponents.”
North Carolina A&T: The Aggies lost their second game in a row after a three-game winning streak.
Ohio State: Reserve guard Kianna Holland missed the game with knee soreness and is day-to-day.
North Carolina A&T plays North Dakota State in Wichita, Kansas, as part of the Wichita State Christmas Tournament.
Ohio State hosts Princeton on Friday.