Columbia women persevere past Boston College, 54-51, to advance to WNIT Elite Eight

A Columbia team that had already set a single-season program record for wins kept the magic going Thursday night at Levien Gym, overcoming an ugly box score to pull off a beautiful finish.

The home team shook off a 17-point first-half deficit to overtake Boston College in the final minute to advance to the WNIT regional final, besting Boston College, 54-51, in a game they led only for the last 12 seconds of the game.

The Lions (25-6, 12-2 Ivy) clawed their way past the Eagles (21-12, 10-8 ACC) to victory despite shooting 0-for-20 from three-point range and their leading scorer, All-Ivy first-teamer Abbey Hsu, scoring just nine points on 3-for-15 shooting from the field.

But Columbia’s defense tightened up after a porous first-quarter showing, allowing just 30 points and 10 field goals over the final three quarters and making just enough transition buckets and free throws down the stretch to turn a 33-18 halftime deficit into a 43-43 tie with 5:43 to play.

The Lions took their first lead with 12.1 seconds left off a Jaida Patrick layup set up by a Kaitlyn Davis bounce pass inside.

Boston College senior forward Taylor Soule, an All-ACC first-teamer a season ago, couldn’t finish inside at the other end. First-year guard Kitty Henderson, a 52% foul shooter, subsequently sank two free throws to extend Columbia’s lead to 54-51 with four ticks left.

Without any timeouts left to advance the ball, the Eagles pushed the ball upcourt quickly and fed the game’s leading scorer, senior guard Cameron Swartz. Swartz’s three-pointer rimmed out, cementing the Lions’ comeback win.


Columbia will host Seton Hall (22-12, 12-8 Big East) in a national quarterfinal matchup Monday at 8 p.m.

Prior to this season, the Lions had not won a postseason game since 1985-86 – the program’s final season before joining Division I.

Patrick had cut the Eagles’ lead to 51-50 with 28.6 seconds left, converting off a drive inside. Davis and Henderson then trapped Swartz, forcing a jump ball with the possession arrow favoring the Lions.

Patrick, a junior guard who transferred from Duke, finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, two assists and two steals in 36 minutes. Davis, a junior guard/forward, notched 21 points, six boards, three helpers and three swats in 37 minutes.

Boston College outscored Columbia 14-6 in the paint in the first quarter, but the Lions outscored BC 28-14 inside the rest of the game, making hay in transition and with baseline drives amid a game-long shooting drought.

Critically, Columbia topped the visitors in points off turnovers, 15-10. The Eagles committed 17 turnovers. The Lions committed 14 turnovers but had just five in the second half.

Swartz led all scorers with 24 points on 7-for-20 shooting. Soule contributed 14 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Eagles, who were considered a NCAA Tournament bubble team.

Six of Hsu’s nine points came in the final 6:21 as the sophomore guard stepped up despite outside shooting struggles and focused attention from BC defenders to help put the Lions over the top.

Columbia trailed 21-11 after the first quarter and reached its nadir when the Eagles took a 33-16 lead with 1:02 left in the first half.

By the night’s end, though, Columbia fans had stormed the Schiller Court at Levien, celebrating a program that has come a long way and a team that isn’t done yet.

“Three more rounds,” coach Megan Griffith told ESPN3.

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