By Charles Young
Spectator Staff Writer
So far in the Ivy League season, the women's basketball team has performed in key areas of the game: they have pressured the ball on the defense, they have aggressively competed on the boards, and they have demonstrated a good outside touch. The problem is they have yet do all of these at once.
With the season winding down, finding consistency still eludes the young Lions squad. Stretches of excellent play by the team have often been overshadowed by a greater deficiency, whether it is rebounding, shooting, or spans of overall poor basketball.
This weekend against Penn and Princeton, the Lions pressured the ball better than any other time this season. The team stepped up their intensity and forced 16 and 22 turnovers, respectively. The pace especially picked up in the second half of both games, and often the stage for a comeback was set.
"We were horrible against the zone in the last six minutes," Penn coach Patrick Knapp said.
But, the chances for victory were again dashed by problems that have plagued the team game after game. After a performance against Brown that saw the Lions give up only one more board than they corralled, Columbia's woes on the glass returned. Penn center Jennifer Fleischer was able to grab every second-chance opportunity that came her way, preventing the Lions from taking advantage of Penn's weakening shooting touch. It was more of the same against Princeton, with both forward Casey Lockwood and center Becky Brown rebuonding in double digits.
The Lions' attempts at comebacks were further hindered by a shooting touch that failed them. In their sole Ivy League victory against Yale, Columbia shot 40.0 percent from beyond the arc. Since then, their perimeter game has cooled off considerably, with the team shooting 14.3 percent against Brown, and 24.0 percent against Penn. Without Katrina Cragg's 10-point performance, on three three-pointers, Columbia would not have fared much better against the Tigers, as the rest of the team combined 1 for 7 from the outside.
In their final four games of the season, the Lions will need to play well in all aspects of the game simultaneously. Their task will begin with a Brown team who is 9-1 in the Ivy League. "What Princeton did to us in the first half tonight's game was similar to the defensive problems we faced in the entire game against Brown," head coach Paul Nixon said. "[Brown] is the best scoring defense in the league. What we're going to have to do before we play them on Friday is carry over what we learned in the second half of [Saturday]'s game."