Coming off a pair of hard-fought losses on the West Coast, the women’s basketball team (1-6) is back in the city again, taking on Saint Francis (5-2) Wednesday in Brooklyn.
The Lions dropped both of their weekend games, falling to Portland on Friday and Portland State on Sunday. Nonetheless, head coach Stephanie Glance said she is happy with the way her team played.
“Our record isn’t going to indicate the progress made in the first year,” she said. “Last year Columbia graduated over 50 percent of their scoring and 50 percent of their rebounding, and they were dead last in the league then.”
For a team that has consistently been at or near the bottom of the Ancient Eight, the Light Blue put together some surprising performances. The Lions allowed Portland—a team that scored 91 against PAC-12 top-half finisher University of Washington—to score only 58 points, well below its season average. They followed it up by playing a tight game against Portland State, which itself had gone neck and neck with four-time defending Ivy champion Princeton for 35 minutes.
“I think we played our best game of the season against Portland State. It didn’t result in a win, but that’s where we are in the process,” Glance said.
After a red-eye flight back, the team’s focus has shifted to recuperating from its trip. Glance says she is confident that her team can handle the challenge.
“When you have a West Coast trip, it is very mental,” she said. “If you allow the jet lag and fatigue to affect you, it will. But our team is in pretty good physical shape and they’re smart about how they take care of themselves, and I think they will continue to do the best they can.”
Saint Francis presents an interesting challenge for the Lions after their holiday weekend on the road. Only a couple of years ago, the Terriers were sitting where the Lions are now. They finished the 2011-12 season 4-25 but turned things around last season, when they hired head coach John Thurston and went 11-19. So far this year, they have only two losses.
“Their program is on the upswing, and I think their coach has done a really good job there,” Glance said.
Saint Francis uses a balanced attack that allows a lot of players to score through athleticism and outside shooting ability. If the Light Blue enters the game fatigued, the Terriers’ offense—led by Eilidh Simpson, Sarah Benedetti, and Jaymee Veney, all of whom average over 11 points per game—will be able to spread the floor and get open looks.
Tip-off is at 4 p.m. at Pope Physical Education Center in Brooklyn Heights.