Women’s basketball will look to build on last weekend's thrilling games with road contests against Yale on Friday and Brown on Saturday.
Columbia (11-6, 1-3 Ivy) played its longest game in program history last Friday, defeating Dartmouth 91-88 in quadruple overtime in Hanover. The Lions followed up that marathon performance with a hard-fought 70-68 loss against league-leading Harvard the next day in a game that was tied at 68 with under 30 seconds remaining.
As has been the case so often this season, junior forward Camille Zimmerman led the way for the Lions. The Tempe, Arizona native put up a career-high 37 points and 19 rebounds in 58 minutes against Dartmouth and showed no signs of fatigue against Harvard, posting 22 points and eight rebounds.
The rest of the Ivy League took notice, naming Zimmerman the Ivy League Player of the Week for the fifth time this season on Monday. However, last weekend’s games featured steady contributions from numerous other players, including senior forwards Tori Oliver and Devon Roeper, demonstrating a more balanced offense.
“Everybody’s more aggressive [on offense],” head coach Megan Griffith, CC ’07, said. “I think they’re understanding and reading the offense better than they have been, which is the goal of the season—to peak at the right times.”
That aggression will be crucial against Brown (11-6, 2-2 Ivy) and Yale (10-7, 1-3 Ivy), two squads that have shown the ability to light up the scoreboard this season.
Brown, in particular, possesses arguably the most balanced and explosive offense in the Ivy League. The Bears lead the charts with an average of 73.1 points per game, nearly five more than Harvard’s second-best total of 68.3, and feature three of the conference’s top five scorers.
Those players—Justine Gaziano, Taylor Will, and Shayna Mehta—rank second, fourth, and fifth in the Ancient Eight, respectively. Factoring in the matchup with Cornell and third-ranked Ivy scorer Nia Marshall, the Lions will have faced four of the league’s top five scorers to open the season—Zimmerman is the fifth, maintaining her top spot with an average of 21.6 points per game.
Friday’s opponent, Yale, doesn’t appear to boast Brown’s firepower on paper. The Bulldogs got off to a slower start, dropping their first three Ivy games, and rank seventh in the Ancient Eight with just 63.5 points per game. However, the last two contests—both against Brown—tell a different story.
Yale dropped a tight first matchup 76-73 on Jan. 20 in Providence. However, one week later the script flipped, as the Bulldogs cruised to a 73-51 victory on their home court. Brown’s 51 points marked a season low, with Yale providing something of a blueprint on how to contain the Bears.
According to Griffith, both Brown and Yale thrive in transition, with the Bulldogs’ ability to slow the Bears in the open court providing the key to their most recent victory.
“Both teams can get up and down and score and put a lot of points on the board,” Griffith said. “The biggest thing … is going to be, defensively, being really sound.”
Roeper is likely to play a key role in the Lions’ defensive effort this weekend after two impressive games. Filling in for injured sophomore forward Josie Little—who, according to Griffith, remains out for this weekend—Roeper put up 18 points and 11 rebounds against Dartmouth and 15 and nine against Harvard.
“Consistency has been big, and Devon’s been more consistent in practice,” Griffith said. “Devon was solid this weekend—I was really proud of her effort.”
As Columbia approaches the halfway mark of the Ivy season, such consistency—both from Roeper and the team as a whole—will be essential for the Lions’ efforts towards reaching the first-ever Ivy League tournament.
Tipoff in New Haven is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, and Saturday’s contest in Providence will begin at 4 p.m.