COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Ohio State coach Beth Burns dismissed leading scorer Michaela Moua from the team Tuesday, but declined to give a specific reason.
Moua, a 5-foot-11 senior who has started all 15 of the Buckeyes' games this season, said she was shocked by the decision. She said she did not know why she had been dismissed.
In a statement, Burns said Moua had been dismissed ''in the best interest of the future of the program.''
Burns later said, ''Everybody thinks it's a great job that I have. And it is. But part of being a manager is making tough decisions. It's a very unfortunate situation. I always believed in and I invested a lot of time in her. I wasn't making up all those things I said about her.''
In the team's media guide, Burns said of Moua, ''I have absolute confidence in her. She plays with relentless effort and epitomizes our 'defense wins' philosophy. I'll depend on her tremendously for her vocal leadership on the court.'''
Moua, a native of Vantaa, Finland, was averaging 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Just last week she had hit the game-winning basket in the final seconds of an upset of defending national champion Purdue.
The team took Monday off, and Moua said she thought she was reporting to a normal day of practice Tuesday when Burns called her into the office.
''I was going to practice like it was any other day,'' Moua told The Columbus Dispatch. ''It was a total, complete shock.
''I don't want to say anything negative. I'm sad that it ended this way. I wish I could have played my senior year. I love my team and I feel like I let the team down.''
Ohio State athletics director Andy Geiger and the associate AD who oversees the women's program, Miechelle Willis, both issued statements supporting Burns' decision.
The Buckeyes (9-6, 2-3 Big Ten) play their next game at No.4 Penn State on Thursday. Freshman D'wan Shackleford is expected to replace Moua in the starting lineup.
''Every day of my life I have to do what's best for the whole,'' Burns said. ''That's my job. No one person can supersede that. I did what I had to do.''
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