Women’s basketball will return to action this weekend in Houston against tough nonconference opponents Houston and Rice. The Lions are coming off the holiday break with a head of steam, having won four of their last five games.
Columbia’s games in Houston will be some of the Light Blue’s last nonconference contests, and these games serve as the team’s final opportunities to build upon its recent success with Ivy League play looming.
But the Lions (6-6) will have to earn these victories, as both Houston (10-3) and Rice (9-2) are undefeated at home this season.
Columbia will try to hand the Cougars their first home loss this season on Thursday night. The Light Blue will look to rally behind the offense of star senior forward Camille Zimmerman, who currently leads the Ivy League averaging just over 21 points per game.
On the defensive end, the Lions will have the tall task of stopping the Cougars’ multifaceted attack, as Houston has four players averaging over 11 points per game. Columbia has struggled on defense this season, allowing an average of 68.2 points per game, ranking it dead last in the Ivy League. Fortunately for the Lions, Houston also struggles on defense, ranking in the bottom third in the American Conference in defensive field-goal percentage, allowing a shooting percentage of 39.1 percent.
Columbia’s veteran frontcourt, led by Zimmerman and junior forward Josie Little, will look to expose Houston on the boards, as the Cougars rank last in the American Conference in rebounding margin and defensive rebounding.
The Lions will then travel crosstown to face the Owls on Saturday afternoon. Columbia will test Rice’s undefeated stretch, as the Owls have recorded nine wins against relatively weak out-of-conference opponents.
On offense, the Light Blue will look for support from first-year guard Riley Casey, who has been hot as of late, averaging slightly over 15 points per game in her last three games. Without help from role players like junior guard/forward Abby Lee and sophomore guards Janiya Clemmons and Maya Sampleton, the Lions will assumedly struggle, as Rice ranks in the top five of Conference USA in defensive points allowed with 59.7 points per game. Conversely, while the Owls have excelled on defense, they have struggled to maintain possession of the ball. The Lions will look to capitalize upon Rice’s high turnover margin, as the Owls average 16.4 turnovers per game.
Thursday’s contest against Houston will begin at 6 p.m., while Saturday’s game against Rice will tip off at 3 p.m.
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