COLUMBUS -- Ohio State was hoping for a better entrance into the NCAA tournament.
The Buckeyes had an impressive stretch midseason, winning 19 of 20 games, before hitting a bump in the road and dropping three of their last four games heading into Friday's first-round matchup against Buffalo in the first round of the Women's NCAA tournament.
It started with a 90-88 overtime loss at Minnesota followed by 107-105 triple overtime loss at Michigan State.
In the Big 10 tournament they handled Rutgers, 73-58, in the quarterfinals but senior guard and team leader Ameryst Alston injured her right (and shooting) wrist diving for a loose ball in the third quarter. Alston tried to go in the semifinal matchup with Michigan State but played just 10 minutes and the Buckeyes couldn’t find their offensive groove.
Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff said he is "cautiously optimistic" about Alston's status for Friday's game.
In the meantime, he's been impressed by Buffalo.
"You know Buffalo played great especially down the stretch," McGuff said Thursday afternoon at the official NCAA press conference. "They had a really magical run in the MAC tournament. They play really hard. They shoot the ball really well from the perimeter. They can play a lot of zone and try to confuse people. They won a lot of close games which I think is really important here in March to be able to have the ability to do that.
"Felisha is an excellent coach who has a lot of experience int eh Big 10 having been at Indiana a number of years and as an assistant at Michigan State. I like their team. I have a lot of respect for what they accomplished and especially how they played at the end of the year."
Felisha Legette-Jack, in her fourth season at Buffalo, was the head coach at Indiana (Big 10 school) from 2006-12 and previously had spent two seasons as the recruiting coordinator for Joanne P. McCallie at Michigan State.
The scouting report has already taken for the Ohio State players who clearly aren't taking anything for granted.
"They’re obviously a good team if they’re in the tournament in the first place," senior guard Cait Craft said when asked about Buffalo. "We can’t underestimate them at all. I mean they have some good players. They have some girls who can shoot the ball. Their defense is going to come at us as well. It’s really just a matter of us coming out focused and getting back to the things that we do well as a team."
"They're in the tournament for a reason," Alston said. "You can't take any team lightly. You need to approach every game the same."