Ohio State's return to the NCAA women's basketball tournament will last more than one afternoon.
The fifth-seeded Buckeyes held off a challenge from No. 12 James Madison by a 90-80 final score Saturday afternoon in Chapel Hill, N.C., to earn a spot in the second around, where they will face No. 4 seed North Carolina on Monday night.
With star point guard Kelsey Mitchell -- the nation's leading scorer -- limited to 28 minutes because of foul trouble, Ameryst Alston took charge for the Buckeyes (24-10). Alston had 28 points and eight assists while also grabbing four rebounds. She was 7 of 19 from the field and made 12 of 16 free throws.
Mitchell still managed 23 points and handed out four assists while freshman center Alexa Hart was a force in the post. Hart had 20 points and 13 rebounds.
Guards Precious Hall and Ashley Perez were the offensive standouts for James Madison, which lost for only the fourth time this season. The Dukes had a six-game winning streak snapped.
Hall scored 28 points but needed 30 shots from the floor. Perez scored 20 points in only 24 minutes. She hit 6 of 9 three-point attempts and kept the Dukes within striking distance down the stretch in the second half.
James Madison won the battle on the boards 44-41, but Ohio State had a huge advantage at the free-throw line. The Buckeyes were 26 for 34 from the charity stripe while JMU went 9 for 10.
Ohio State won an NCAA tournament game for the first time since a second-round victory over Georgia Tech in 2011. The Buckeyes last played in the NCAA tournament in 2012 when they were knocked out in the first round by Florida.
The Buckeyes improved to 6-0 all time against JMU.
Ohio State and North Carolina have not met in the NCAA tournament. The Tar Heels lead the all-time series 3-4 and have won four in a row. The last meeting was a 57-54 North Carolina victory in Chapel Hill on Nov. 28, 2012. The Buckeyes' last win in the series was Feb. 4, 1978, an 80-66 decision in Columbus.
Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff is 0-1 against the Tar Heels as a head coach.