The women’s basketball team ended its season at the bottom of the Ivy League table this weekend, after losing to Dartmouth and Harvard.
On Saturday, Columbia (8-21, 2-12 Ivy) hosted Dartmouth (15-12, Ivy 7-7) and lost, 88-77, failing to hold Dartmouth’s powerful offense in check. The Lions shot well above their season average with a robust 45.9 percent for the game, but Dartmouth managed an even more impressive 55.6 percent conversion rate.
Despite the loss, the Lions played well on the interior, outscoring Dartmouth 28-26 on points in the paint. Superstar senior forward Camille Zimmerman led the way for the Light Blue, scoring 19 points coupled with 11 rebounds.
After trailing the entire game, Columbia had its highest-scoring fourth quarter of the year, scoring 28 points on 52.6 percent shooting. The Lions also shot an incredible 50 percent shooting from behind the three-point arc in the fourth quarter against Dartmouth, compared to 40 percent from three-point attempts for the game.
The Light Blue was better on defense but worse from the field on Sunday, when Harvard came to New York. Columbia held Harvard (18-9, Ivy 10-4) to 78 points on 48.8 percent shooting but scored only 59 points on 35.4 percent shooting itself. Sunday’s game was characterized by Harvard’s dominance in the paint. The Crimson outrebounded the Lions 49-30 and scored 40 points in the paint compared to Columbia’s 29.
Columbia continued one of its season-long trends on Sunday, falling behind by double digits early in the second quarter and failing to hit enough shots to make up for the deficit. The Lions were shooting with a 28.6 percent success rate from the field and converted just two shots from three-point range after 17 attempts by halftime.
Harvard featured a balanced scoring attack, with nine players scoring and five players finishing with at least eight points. The Crimson also handed out 18 assists, whipping the ball all over the floor against a Columbia defense that seemed perpetually a step too slow.
The Lions featured a solid game plan, finding a fair amount of open shots from behind the arc, but ended up finding points from only four of 24 three-point attempts. They also struggled on the glass. Zimmerman gathered 14 rebounds but no other individual player had more than three. With those rebounds, Zimmerman set a new Columbia record—938 rebounds—for most rebounds in a career.
A lack of strong supporting play led to yet another loss for the Lions, a trend that persisted throughout the year. Zimmerman, sophomore guard Janiya Clemmons, and first-year guards Imani Whittington and Riley Casey combined for 49 of the team’s 59 points. The rest of the team, combined, shot 4-19 from the field.
Finding and developing a stronger supporting cast will likely be a priority for head coach Megan Griffith, CC ’07, this offseason. On Sunday, the Lions’ Senior Day noted the departure of Zimmerman, guard Paige Tippet, and center Jillian Borreson.
“I am proud of our seniors,” Griffith said. “I am proud of the legacy they are going to leave and I told them that they aren’t the ones that will get to build the house but they laid the foundation and the bricks.”
The team has long relied on Zimmerman for offensive output, as she scored almost twice as many points this year as Casey, the Lions’ second-leading scorer. Light Blue fans will eagerly wait to see what type of offense the Lions run next season after running the post-up-heavy, Zimmerman-centric unit they featured this season.
A full off-season and new recruiting class will give next season’s Lions a fresh new look, but replacing Zimmerman—the only player in the Ivy this year to average double-digit points and rebounds per game—will be difficult.
Despite the weak season, Griffith said she is optimistic about the young players within the program and this year’s incoming recruiting class.
“I am tremendously excited for [Imani Whittington’s] growth and for the rest of them,” Griffith said. “I think there is a lot that they all still have left to learn and it’s a buy-in process.”