Women’s basketball used an explosive third quarter to pull away from Pennsylvania’s Saint Francis and claim a 94-81 victory on Wednesday at Levien Gymnasium.
Columbia (5-5) picked up steam throughout the game after a slow start and blew the doors off Saint Francis (3-5) in the third quarter—outscoring the Red Flash 27-15 to establish a comfortable margin throughout much of the fourth quarter. The Lions’ 94 points marked the highest total of the season and Columbia’s highest point total against a Division I team since 2009.
But the end of the game did not lack drama entirely, as Saint Francis heated up from deep late in the fourth quarter. The Red Flash hit three treys in a row for a 9-0 run, pulling within nine points with just under a minute remaining, but were ultimately unable to surmount the deficit as sophomore guard Janiya Clemmons hit three late free throws.
“We made some boneheaded mistakes,” head coach Megan Griffith, CC ’07, said of Saint Francis’ late surge. “We were playing a little loose, and that’s a game where you need to seize control.”
On defense, the Lions did just enough to keep the Red Flash at bay. Saint Francis’ first-year Caitlyn Kroll and junior Jessica Kovatch scored 23 and 18 points respectively, but only one other Saint Francis player reached double digits. Much of the team’s offensive progress was made during a 30-point fourth quarter spent playing from behind.
Griffith pointed to senior forward Camille Zimmerman’s presence as a steadying factor for the team. Zimmerman excelled once again, putting up 25 points and nine rebounds, but she was far from the only offensive star on Wednesday.
Six Lions scored at least 10 points, and the team shot 54 percent from the field. The Lions dished out 23 assists and hit 11 of their 19 three-point attempts, shredding Saint Francis’ press defense.
Columbia will be back in action for the second game of its homestand against Buffalo on Saturday. Tipoff from Levien Gymnasium is slated for 2 p.m.