In its two games this past weekend, the Columbia women’s basketball team displayed a powerful and balanced offense. The Lions (13-7, 4-2 Ivy) scored 65 points against Brown and 74 points against Yale. Three Columbia players scored in double-figures against the Bears, while four hit double digits against the Bulldogs.
But the Lions still struggled, in large part due to ineffective defenses. While Columbia finished the road trip with a win over Brown and a loss to Yale, the Lions came close to suffering two defeats over the weekend.
Against Brown, Columbia trailed by nine points in the first half. A 3-pointer by senior guard Sara Yee with 32 seconds left in the period gave the Lions a 34-33 lead at the intermission, but Brown freshman guard Lindsay Nickel put the Bears back on top early in the second half with a trey of her own.
Columbia took a 41-36 lead with 15:13 remaining, but Brown tied the game at 45-45 with 10:28 to play. While the Lions led 57-49 after Yee made a trey with just 4:47 left, Columbia had to fight to the finish. Brown used a 9-0 run to take a one-point lead, keeping the game competitive down the stretch. But junior forward Judie Lomax and senior guard Danielle Browne made critical shots in the final two minutes to lead the Lions to the 65-60 victory.
The full-court pressure that Columbia often relies on to fluster opponents was mostly ineffective against Brown. According to Columbia head coach Paul Nixon, the Bears were more confident and aggressive than they have been in recent seasons, refusing to be intimidated by the Lions.
“I thought Brown did an excellent job of handling our pressure in the full court,” he said. “They did a good job of attacking it, and they were able to get the ball down the floor, [and they] got some fairly easy scores early. … They very much stepped onto the court with confidence, ready to play.”
The next night, Yale used a strong first-half performance to overpower Columbia. The Bulldogs opened the game with a 6-0 run and held a 10-4 lead after three minutes of action. Yale shot 69 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, converting 20 of 29 field goal attempts. By halftime, the Bulldogs had built a 47-37 advantage.
“We weren’t able to rotate quick enough to their shooters,” Nixon said. “They hit a lot of their open shots, so in the second half we had to adjust and do a better job of contesting them.”
While Yale hit only 31.3 percent of its field goals after the intermission, it scored the first eight points of the second half. Still, Columbia did not fold. The Lions used an 8-0 run to cut their deficit to 10 points with 14:42 left in the game. Sophomore guard Melissa Shafer later sank a 3-pointer to put Columbia within four points of Yale, and a trey by Yee with 1:24 remaining cut Yale’s lead to one point. But the Bulldogs made seven of eight free throws in the final 37 seconds en route to an 81-74 win.
“Seventy-four points should have been enough to win that game,” Nixon said. “And, frankly, 74 points should be enough to win any game we play, because we should do a good enough job defensively to hold our opponent.”
Four players scored in double-figures for Yale. Junior guard Yoyo Greenfield led the Bulldogs with 20 points, while freshman guard Megan Vasquez added 19. The duo combined for seven three-pointers.
Columbia seeks to improve its Ivy record when it hosts Princeton on Feb. 12 and Penn on Feb. 13.