Columbia’s women’s basketball opened its first season under head coach Stephanie Glance in dramatic fashion with a victory over LIU Brooklyn on Friday, before dropping its home opener to University of San Francisco on Sunday. The Lions’ 62-59 defeat of the Blackbirds was the first win in a season opener since 2009.
The Light Blue (1-1) had a back-and-forth first half with LIU, with the teams trading points and scoring runs. After the Blackbird’s opening 4-0 run, the Lions’ offense responded in impressive fashion, taking a 19-18 lead with 11:21 to go in the half. First-years Devon Roeper and Carolyn Binder both contributed to the run, scoring their first collegiate points.
Binder shot lights-out through the remainder of the half, going 4-6 with 15 points. She went to finish the game with 28 points, leading the contest in scoring.
“I didn’t really let the pressure get to me,” Binder said. “I played in the moment, in the flow of the game. It was honestly great that I was able to contribute to the team in such a positive way and get us off on the right foot for the season.”
Columbia balanced LIU’s second-half attack due in large part to Binder’s shooting. With under a minute left and the Lions up 59-58, Binder drained two free-throws to put the Light Blue up by three. Columbia finally clinched its victory when LIU’s Brianna Farris missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
“It was an important win,” Glance said. “When you have a change in staff and you take over a team that really hasn’t won a lot in the last two years, it’s really important for them to have some success and know that there is hope. We can play and we can compete. It reinforces their confidence in themselves and in the system. It was a great win.”
But the Lions could not match Friday’s performance in their home opener. Facing San Francisco, it appeared Columbia was headed toward another nail-biting finish, but the game slipped away in the closing minutes as the Lions fell to the Dons 83-69.
Again the Light Blue traded baskets with their opponents in the first half, and the Dons took a 37-34 lead into the break. Columbia was able to keep the score close to even with offensive contributions from four different scorers in the first 10 minutes of the game. Junior Miwa Tachibana led the Lions in points but finished the day with only 11, reflecting the team’s spread-out offensive attack.
“For three quarters of the game we competed,” Glance said. “Then I saw just a little bit of old stuff. I saw some of the returners lack confidence.”
In the game’s final minutes, Columbia’s offense stalled as an increasing number of fouls were called.
“When you’re not hitting all your shots, you don’t let down on the defensive end,” Glance said. “I think we did that today. We let our lack of offense for a little stretch affect our defense.”
As a result, the Light Blue lost by a 14-point margin. Still, neither Glance nor her team were discouraged. Looking forward to Friday’s contest against Lafayette, the team hopes to learn from this weekend’s play.
“This is a process—it’s not going to happen overnight,” Glance said. “We are just going to lay the groundwork and build the foundation so we have something solid to build off of.”