On its winter break trip to Texas, women’s basketball picked up two losses in two games against Houston and Rice.
The Lions’ (6-8) losses were not terribly unlikely, but their deficits leaving the South do not bode well for the upcoming Ivy season. On Thursday the Light Blue lost by 24 points to the Cougars (12-3), and on Saturday it lost by 23 points to the Owls (10-2). Neither host has lost at home so far this season, but the Lions would have hoped to at least force closer contests.
The big takeaway from the Lions’ weekend: In order for senior forward Camille Zimmerman and first-year guard Riley Casey to spearhead the team’s success, the two starters have to continuously shine. Zimmerman and Casey both had two lackluster performances relative to their season showings so far, which can be at least partially attributed to their opponents’ quality, but the Lions will need the ability to adapt moving forward.
The pair attempted a number of field goals close to their averages, but their opposition held their success percentages far below what their season averages. This points to strong defense by the Cougars and Owls, especially in the case of Houston, which forced 25 Light Blue turnovers.
To make up for relatively weak performances by Zimmerman and Casey, sophomore guard Maya Sampleton supported Columbia’s efforts with 12 points against Houston and five against Rice. Sampleton’s average 5.5 points per game this season is only fifth best among the Lions, but her strong showing on Thursday could see her play a larger role moving forward.
On the defensive end, Columbia had a standard performance, though it allowed Houston 69 field goal attempts to its own 53. Otherwise, the Lions kept their opponents’ shot percentages at reasonable levels, and a stronger offensive showing of their own may have closed the large point gaps.
With the Lions' Ivy opener against Princeton just under two weeks away and only one more nonconference game before then, Columbia will pay serious attention to how it can restart its offense. The Lions deliberately chose a challenging preseason path, so their underwhelming results may not portend the same for their Ivy season, but if they are to display their strong form from early December again in the upcoming season, they will likely need Zimmerman and Casey at their best.
The Lions will have their final chance to prepare for the Ivy season on Jan. 3, when they head to Virginia to take on Hampton.