CHAPEL HILL, N.C. >> Ameryst Alston scored 28 points and Ohio State held off pesky James Madison 90-80 on Saturday in the first round of the Greensboro Region.
Big Ten co-player of the year Kelsey Mitchell added 23 points for the fifth-seeded Buckeyes (24-10). They shot 58 percent in the second half and scored on seven consecutive possessions down the stretch to earn a second-round matchup against host North Carolina, the No. 4 seed, on Monday night.
Precious Hall had 28 points on 10-of-30 shooting while Ashley Perez added 20 points with six 3-pointers for the 12th-seeded Dukes (29-4).
They hit 10 3s but had their six-game winning streak snapped.
Alexa Hart added 20 points and 13 rebounds to help the Buckeyes win their 13th in 16 games and earn their first NCAA Tournament win since 2011 while avoiding their fourth one-and-done since 2007.
The Dukes pulled to 69-66 on Perez’s sixth 3-pointer of the game with 6 1/2 minutes left. Ohio State responded with its most efficient stretch of the game, with Shayla Cooper putting the Buckeyes up 80-71 with 3:48 left. By that point, all James Madison could do was continue to trade baskets.
Hart hit layups about a minute apart before Alston put Ohio State up 87-77 with a free throw with 1:01 left.
Cooper finished with 11 points for the Buckeyes. Three times in the first 11 minutes of the second half, they pushed their lead into double figures — only to have the Dukes shoot their way back into it. Perez buried corner 3s about 75 seconds apart to pull James Madison to 67-63 with about 8 1/2 minutes left.