Senior forward Camille Zimmerman broke Columbia women’s basketball’s all-time scoring record as the Lions beat Providence and fell to Richmond in their opening weekend.
Zimmerman began the season with 1,408 career points, just 39 points behind Ula Lysniak, CC ’87, on the all-time leaderboard. After putting up 25 points in the season opener against Providence, the record was well within reach in the Richmond game, and the senior etched her place in Columbia history with a fourth-quarter jumper from the free-throw line.
Led by Zimmerman, Columbia (1-1) put together a strong showing in its first of two games this weekend, winning 73-64 over Providence (0-1) in the team’s season opener.
After going down seven at the end of the first quarter––a slow start that hearkened back to last year’s struggles at the beginnings of games––the Lions bounced back to outscore the Friars in each of the next three quarters. Zimmerman’s efficient 9-12 performance from the field was emblematic of a strong shooting afternoon for the Lions, who shot 53.1 percent from the field as a team.
The Friars weathered the comeback attempt for much of the game, taking a 34-33 lead into halftime and entering the fourth quarter down just 53-50, as Zimmerman played much of the second half in foul trouble. A three-point play by Providence’s Allegra Botteghi with just under six minutes remaining tied the game at 57, but the Lions pulled ahead soon after.
First-year guard Riley Casey’s three-pointer with 4:40 remaining broke a 59-all tie and sparked a 14-5 run for the Light Blue to close the game. The Friars had no answer down the stretch, and the Lions, despite finishing with fewer rebounds and more turnovers, claimed a second consecutive victory over their Big East foe.
The Light Blue did not have similar success in Sunday’s home opener, as Richmond’s (2-0) full-court press rattled the Lions at the game’s onset, leading to five Light Blue turnovers in the first quarter. The Spiders capitalized on the Lion’s mistakes and secured an early 8-2 lead, but Columbia fought back against the Spiders’ tenacious press.
With a pair of successful free throws from Zimmerman and a corner three-pointer from junior guard/forward Abby Lee, Columbia managed an 8-2 run of its own. The Lions finished the quarter up 25-23, but only after 11 lead changes and five ties in the first period.
The Spiders came out strong in the second quarter, taking advantage of two Light Blue turnovers to shape the scoreline 30-26 in their favor. After trailing by a few points for most of the quarter, the Lions regained the lead around the three-minute mark, ultimately going into halftime 39-38.
Columbia started the second half slowly, getting into early foul trouble and committing five fouls halfway through the third quarter. The Spiders held Zimmerman shotless for most of the third quarter, but she found her stroke after throwing the ball off a defender’s back to herself and sinking an easy layup.
Sophomore guard Stephanie Flynn then made the most of an and-one three with the foul, which put the Lions up 56-52. Despite a strong third-quarter showing from the Light Blue, the team couldn’t quite pull away from the Spiders, as senior guard Kylie Murphee tied the game 60-60 with a layup to end the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Zimmerman’s record-breaking shot was one of the few highlights for the Lions.
“It was a small step I had to get past, but now I can just focus on the season,” Zimmerman said of the record.
Richmond jumped out to an early lead in the fourth quarter, and didn’t slow down from there. Despite two big three-pointers and a few tough defensive plays from Casey, the Lions failed to generate enough big plays down the stretch to come away with a win, ultimately losing 85-79.
“With an inexperienced group, it’s just we have to have more fight than that, and today there were moments of it,” head coach Megan Griffith said. “It’s a young group, it’s a young season still, so our response to this will be really pivotal.”
The Lions will get another chance to shape their non-conference record at 7 p.m. on Wednesday night at UMass Lowell.