LEXINGTON, Ky. — The question of Stephanie Mavunga’s health and game readiness has been posed to Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff several times during the past two weeks, and each time the answer has been similar.

Weeks before the NCAA Tournament, McGuff said he was “cautiously optimistic” the redshirt junior forward, who has missed eight straight games after injuring her right foot in a Feb. 9 practice, would be ready for the first round.

The day before Ohio State’s first-round game against Western Kentucky and its second-round game against Kentucky last weekend, McGuff said it he would make a “game-time decision” regarding Mavunga’s availability.

Mavunga’s status as a “game-time decision” remains for Ohio State’s Sweet 16 matchup Friday against No. 1 seed Notre Dame (32-3) in Rupp Arena.

“She's been good so far this week and further along than she was last week, but I would say that would be a game-time decision,” McGuff said.

Still, there have been signs in the last week of improved health for Mavunga.

After she was not included in the open portion of Ohio State (28-6) practice prior to its opening-round game against WKU and did not dress for either of the Buckeyes’ first two tournament games, Mavunga jogged and practiced layups Tuesday in front of reporters in Columbus for the first time since her injury.

Mavunga again participated in practice Thursday, shooting layups and making post moves on the Rupp Arena floor during the open portion of Ohio State’s practice.

In Mavunga’s place, freshman Tori McCoy and junior Alexa Hart have seen their respective minutes increase.

Notre Dame will be without its best post player Friday. Junior Brianna Turner, the leading scorer and rebounder for the Fighting Irish, tore her left ACL in Notre Dame’s win over Purdue in the round of 32.

“Yeah, no one can take her place,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “She's just a very, very special player. So to lose her, we really need a lot of different people doing different things.”