An exhibition game can be useful for a team to spread playing time across its roster.

But for the Ohio State women’s basketball team, the available roster likely will be limited for an exhibition on Sunday at Value City Arena against Ashland, the defending Division II national champion.

Coach Kevin McGuff said that senior forward Alexa Hart and junior forward Makayla Waterman are uncertain for the game because of nagging injuries. Both players sat out Thursday’s practice, with Hart on a knee scooter with a walking boot on her right foot.

The Buckeyes’ forward depth would take a serious hit if both were unable to play. Stephanie Mavunga and Chelsea Mitchell would be the remaining forwards on scholarship, meaning freshman walk-on Savitha Jayaraman from Olentangy Liberty would be in line for significant minutes. Six-foot guard Sierra Calhoun could slide down and occupy forward minutes in a pinch.

Though he likely would have a limited number of lineup combinations, McGuff still wants to explore the team’s versatility against the Eagles.

“Even though we have a lot of people back, we’re going to play them in a lot of different combinations. That’s probably what you’re going to see,” McGuff said.

The Eagles and Buckeyes met in an exhibition last season, with the Buckeyes winning 88-79. In the regular season, the Eagles went 37-0 and won the Division II championship game 93-77 against Virginia Union.

Ashland will be the first of two exhibition opponents for the Buckeyes, along with Division II Urbana on Nov. 5 at Value City Arena, before OSU opens the regular season against Stanford on Nov. 10 at St. John Arena.

The emphasis for Ohio State in the offseason has been on defense, and Ashland could provide an opportunity to show how much progress has been made. Ashland poured in 93.4 points per game in 2016-17 and returns its leading scorers in senior forwards Laina Snyder (17.4 points per game) and Andi Daugherty (15.5).

“They’re a great team,” senior guard Linnae Harper said. “We’re really excited to get the chance to play against them. They have a lot of great talent. … It’s going to be a very competitive matchup, and it will be good to see what we all can do.”

Facing a prolific scoring team such as Ashland likely will help OSU. The Buckeyes were 313th out of 345 teams in Division I last season in points allowed at 71.5 per game, and although some of that can be attributed to OSU’s up-tempo style, McGuff acknowledged that the defense must improve.

“I think we’ll have a team that can score the basketball, but we got to get stops and be better than we were last year on that end of the floor,” he said.