NEW YORK – Columbia did some things with a bang. But it was being masterful at doing the little things with a slow and deliberate precision that allowed the Lions to put themselves in a position to fire on all cylinders and eventually rolling past Ohio University 81-59 in women’s college basketball Dec. 29 at Levien Gymnasium.
It was the first game in more than two weeks for the Lions, who improved to 11-2 on the season. It is the best non-conference record in program history as Columbia prepares to begin Ivy League play.
It was Columbia’s eighth straight victory, tying the program record for most consecutive wins that was established last season.
Columbia has received votes in the AP Poll each of the past three weeks and is looking at cracking the Top 25 for the first time in school history
The two losses suffered by the Lions so far this season have come against Power 5 schools Vanderbilt (74-63) and Iowa State (99-76).
Columbia was most impressive in the way the Lions boxed out on both ends of the floor. Not only did they prevent the Bobcats from getting rebounds, the Lions did so in textbook fashion by establishing the spot and giving Ohio virtually no chance at corralling many missed shots.
“We actually practice on that,” said a smiling Columbia coach Megan Griffith, after the win. “We really believe in doing the little things … and doing them well.”
And it created a snowball effect as the Lions rebounded so well as they held a commanding 51-26 edge on the boards, including a 20-6 advantage on the offensive end. That, in turn, helped give Columbia a 24-2 bulge in second-chance points on the way to the 22-point victory over the Bobcats.
Columbia wasted little time in taking the lead in the game as Kaitlyn Davis converted the first turnover of the game on a nifty reverse in the lane for the first two points of the game to put the Lions in front just 30 seconds into the contest.
The Bobcats, behind the play of Yaya Felder, managed to tie the game twice in the early going. Felder’s short jumper in the lane tied the game 2-2 and she added a 3-pointer with 7:35 remaining in the first quarter to tie the game at 5-5 after Abbey Hsu’s own try had given the Lions a 5-2 advantage 19 seconds earlier.
Kitty Henderson gave the lead back to Columbia with 7:21 to go in the period.
It was a lead the Lions would not relinquish the rest of the way and they would lead 24-13 at the end of the first quarter, thanks in large part to Hsu, who tallied 12 points in the first 10 minutes of the contest.
The 15-day layoff between games was not without some rust on the part of the Lions. Columbia led by as many as 15 points late in the first period when Hsu was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer. She connected on all three foul shots to push the Lions’ lead to 24-9 with 56 seconds left in the period.
Ohio managed to go on a 7-0 run to start the second period and was able to eventually narrow the deficit to 38-33 at halftime. The Bobcats would get no closer than 43-40 on a jumper from Abby Garnett 6:46 remaining in the third quarter.
Columbia outscored the visitors 38-19 the rest of the way, including a 15-4 spurt over the final 3:45 of the game to secure the victory.
“We had to knock off some of the rust,” Griffith said following the game. “This team is experienced, but they are still human.
“You are worried about some of these things with any team coming out of a break,” she added.
Hsu finished with 22 points to lead a trio of Lions in double-digit scoring. Davis and Hannah Pratt joined in with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Perri Page and Paige Lauder both chipped in with nine points and Henderson finished with eight points in the contest as nine different Lions broke into the scoring column.
Nine different players also collected rebounds for Columbia with Davis and Henderson, who also paced the team with six assists, leading the way with eight rebounds while Hsu added seven. Pratt and Jaida Patrick both chipped in with six rebounds.
Ohio, which fell to 2-9 on the season with the loss, had three players reach double figures in scoring with Felder leading the way with 21 points in the game. Kendall Hale finished with 11 points and Caitlyn Kroll chipped in with 10 points. Kroll and Garnett combined for nearly half of the Bobcats’ 26 rebounds in the game with Kroll pulling down eight missed shots and Garnett collecting six caroms. No other Ohio player had more than two rebounds in the game.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.