Nov. 29, 2014
ST. THOMAS, US Virgin Islands – In its third game in three days, the short-handed Ohio State women’s basketball team gutted-out a 90-83 double-overtime victory over Florida Gulf Coast in the finale of the Paradise Jam.
The Buckeyes finished the tournament at 2-1 and are now 4-3 overall on the year. The loss was just the second of the year for Florida Gulf Coast who falls to 5-2.
Junior Ameryst Alston and freshman Kelsey Mitchell each finished with a game-high 26 points. Mitchell also had four rebounds, four assists and three steals and was named to the All-Tournament team. Alston was 11-of-14 from the free throw line, including hitting two clutch free throws to send the game into overtime.
With Kalpana Beach sidelined with a leg injury, freshman Alexa Hart stepped-up and played her best game of the year. She scored 20 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, both season-highs. It was her second-double-double of the season. Hart also had four blocks and two assists.
FGCU had six players finish in double-figures led by Whitney Knight who finished with 17 points, five rebounds and four blocks. Knight was named the Island Division MVP.
For the first time this season, the Buckeyes won the battle on the boards 49-42 and had 15 second-chance points.
The Buckeyes took their first lead of the game with just under seven minutes to play in regulation on a three-pointer by Craft. But FGCU clung to a four-point lead with 30 seconds left before Alston drilled her only three-pointer of the game to trim the lead to one. After DyTiesha Dunson split a pair from the line, Alston got the rebound and got fouled with 14 seconds left. She hit both free throws and after a FGCU miss, the game went to overtime.
In the first overtime, FGCU again led by four, 75-71 with 1:22 to play. Mitchell then converted a pair of free throws and split a pair to pull the Buckeyes within one with 40 seconds remaining. Again, FGCU went 1-for-2 from the line giving the Buckeyes a chance. Alston drove the length of the floor, drew three defenders and found Hart wide open under the basket for the tying lay-in.
In the second overtime, Mitchell made a lay-in and a jumper in the first minute to give the Buckeyes a four-point lead and it never got any closer the rest of the way. The Buckeyes made 7-of-10 free throws in the final 1:23 to seal the victory.
The story of the first half was the FGCU three-point shooting. The Eagles hit eight of its first 16 three-point attempts and built a 30-19 lead. The Buckeyes kept chipping away as Alston and Hart did work inside. Ohio State closed to within three with under a minute to play but an 11th three-pointer of the half for FGCU sent the Eagles into the locker room with a 41-36 lead.
FGCU was 11-of-23 from long range in the first half and just 4-of-14 from inside the arc. The Buckeyes shot 54 percent (14-of-26) in the opening half.
After that hot start, the Eagles made just five of its last 20 three-pointers the rest of the way as the Buckeyes’ perimeter defense picked-up.
Eagles From Deep
Florida Gulf Coast finished the game 16-of-43 from beyond thearc.
The Eagles were 11-of-23 from long range in the first half and madejust four shots from inside the arc.
They were just 5-of-20 in the second half and the two overtimeperiods.
Freshman forward Alexa Hart enjoyed her best game of the season, scoring aseason-high 20 points and grabbing a season-high 18 rebounds.
That was her second double-double of the season.
Freshman Kelsey Mitchell led the team in scoring in all three games ofthe tournament and was named to the Island Division All-TournamentTeam.
Over the three games, Mitchell averaged 26.7 points per game andmade nine three-pointers.
She scored 35 points and tied the school-record by going 14-of-14from the free throw line in the win over Clemson on Thursday.
The game was delayed for nearly 20 minutes at the 17:52 mark ofthe first half after the power to the building went out.
Florida Gulf Coast was lead 4-2 at the time.
Unfortunately, no more games are scheduled in the VirginIslands. Ohio State will return home to take part in the ACC/BigTen Challenge on Wednesday, Dec. 3.
The Buckeyes will take on Pitt at Value City Arena beginning at 7p.m.