Davis’ triple-double leads Columbia women past Dartmouth

Kaitlyn Davis put up a triple-double to lead Columbia to a home win over Dartmouth Saturday. (Photo by Erica Denhoff)

A career-first triple-double performance from senior forward Kaitlyn Davis helped ensure Columbia never trailed in a dominant 79-50 victory against Dartmouth Saturday at Levien Gym.

The Lions (17-3, 6-1 Ivy) entered the game as one of three teams in the country to use the same starting lineup all season. That changed against Dartmouth (2-19, 0-7) as coach Megan Griffith decided to rest sophomore guard Kitty Henderson due to a minor injury. Senior guard Carly Rivera made her first start of the season.

“Going into this week not knowing if she [Kitty] was going to be in or not, we just made sure everybody understood who’s going to take those points, who’s going to take those rebounds, who’s going to take those assists,” Griffith said. “And so them understanding the total team buy-in of, one of us falls down, we all pick it up as a group.”

The Lions won the tip and senior forward Hannah Pratt got the Lions off to a 5-0 run to start the game before ending the quarter with a 29-16 lead. In contrast to last week’s game against Brown, the Lions maintained control of the ball, committing zero turnovers in the quarter.

A three from Dartmouth junior guard Mia Curtis got the scoring started in the second quarter before ending the half with 10 points. Curtis was the only Dartmouth player finishing double digits. After a quiet second quarter for Abbey Hsu, a buzzer-beater three from the junior guard capped off a 7-0 run for the Lions to give them a 45-25 lead going into the half.

A rebound off a missed three from sophomore Grace Niekelski gave Kaitlyn Davis her 10th rebound in the third quarter, securing a double-double. Both teams suffered a scoring drought in the last three minutes of the period, as the Lions entered the fourth with a 64-38 lead.

With two assists left to get the coveted triple-double, Davis found Hsu to get her there. A three from Hsu gave Davis her ninth, and a stepback jump shot with 6:14 left to go in the game gave Davis her 10th assist and first career triple-double. Hsu’s three was her fifth and final of the game, and 246th of her career, tying her for No. 6 in career three-pointers made in Ivy League history with Princeton’s Sandi Bittler ‘90. Davis becomes the first to do so in Lions program history, and just the second Ivy women’s player this season after Cornell’s Ania McNicholas accomplished the feat against Clarion on December 28.

Davis stuffed the stat sheet even more than usual with 19 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals.

“Really excited for Kaitlyn, I thought today she played like she was the best player on the floor,” Griffith said.

As if a triple-double wasn’t enough, Davis added a game-high four steals to the stat sheet in a contest dominated by the Lions’ defense. The home team limited Dartmouth to below 30% shooting, forced 16 turnovers, notched nine steals and posted seven blocks.

Columbia contained Dartmouth’s top scorers, sophomore guard Victoria Page and junior forward Mekkena Boyd, to a combined 12 points. Boyd struggled from the field shooting 0-for-10 while draining all six of her free throws, while Page’s points didn’t come until the fourth quarter with back-to-back threes.

“We’re trying to emphasize defense a lot more, especially after the past few games. We take pride in that,” Davis said.

Davis also praised her teammate, senior guard Jaida Patrick, for being the team’s “engine” on defense, inspiring the rest of the team to work harder.

While the Lions dominated almost every aspect of the game, the team did continue to struggle from the free-throw line, shooting just 10-for-20 from the stripe. Dartmouth converted on all 10 of their free throws.

After a Penn (13-7, 5-2) loss to Harvard (12-7, 5-2), Columbia now stands alone atop the Ivy standings. The Lions prepare for a back-to-back homestand next weekend as they seek revenge against Penn Friday and look to complete a regular-season sweep of Saturday versus Princeton (14-5, 5-2 Ivy).