Let’s start there. Clemmons has had a fine career, and she has been a major reason Columbia has gone from irrelevant to intermittently exciting, with better days to come. Her years at Morningside Heights have coincided with Columbia alum Megan Griffith’s first four as the Lions’ head coach, and the 5-9 guard has been a floor leader while accumulating nearly 900 points. On a flat night for Columbia, Clemmons hit a pair of threes early to keep the game close and finished with a team-high 12 points and seven rebounds. Not the best way to go out, but she’ll play in the tournament and maybe beyond — great stuff for someone who’d never played on a Columbia team with a winning record. In fact, it’s been 10 years since the Lions finished the year above .500, overall or in the Ivies. Do not bet against them in future years.
So what really mattered in Saturday’s Penn-Columbia women’s game?
Well, winning meant something, and Penn did that quite comfortably, 51-36, at Columbia.
But both teams were already locked into the Ivy League Tournament next weekend; only the seeding would be affected, and the loss makes Columbia (17-10, 8-6 Ivy) the No. 4 seed with the job nobody really wanted, facing Princeton in the first game Friday. Penn (20-7, 10-4) will be the No. 2 seed and face Yale. Columbia also was looking for a measure of revenge for a tight overtime loss in Philadelphia. Two top contenders for Ivy Rookie of the Year had a chance to show their stuff. And Janiya Clemmons, the Lions’ sole senior, had a sendoff in her last home game for Senior Day.
Columbia is certainly suffering from the injury that has sidelined last year’s Ivy Rookie of the Year, Sienna Durr. The last time the Lions played the Quakers, Durr amassed 16 points and 15 rebounds, and the new Columbia first-year star, Abbey Hsu, had 28 points and eight rebounds. On Saturday, Hsu hit just one basket in eight attempts for two points. The freshman honors went to Penn’s leading scorer, Kayla Padilla, who struggled from deep (0-for-4) but converted on some nifty drives for a team-leading 12 points. Penn senior guard Phoebe Sterba added nine points, all on threes.
And Columbia couldn’t cope with Eleah Parker inside. The Penn center’s shooting was off — just 4-for-15, and many of those misses were open looks from close in. So Parker had a mere nine points when she could have had 19; but she really did have 19 rebounds (her career best) and seven blocks (tied for her career best). Other Quakers added four blocks to go along with the team’s nine steals to give Columbia a frustrating night.