Heading into the last two days of the regular season, Columbia and Princeton were tied for first, while Penn held a one-game lead over Harvard for third place. After the Lions, Tigers and Crimson each grabbed a win, the Ivy League Tournament semifinal matchups of Columbia against Harvard and Princeton versus Penn had been set. What needed to be determined was the seeding of the four teams and the timing of the two matchups.
When the updated NCAA NET rankings were posted on Sunday morning, Princeton’s convincing road victory over upper division Penn combined with Columbia’s narrow escape at home against seventh-place Cornell resulted in the Tigers overcoming an 11-position difference from last week and taking the No. 1 seed away from the Lions.
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.”
In its first Ivy play at Levien Gym this season, Columbia pulled off a happy homecoming by hamstringing Harvard in an 82-56 romp.
Coming off a heartbreaking loss at Penn last Saturday that followed a triumphant overtime victory at Princeton, Columbia (14-3, 3-1 Ivy) was hunting for a bounceback win. The Lions got off to a rocky start, turning the ball over nine times in the first quarter alone but got out of the quarter with an 18-13 lead over Harvard (9-7, 2-2).
Harvard senior guard McKenzie Forbes’ quarter-ending layup started an 8-2 Harvard run that included a three from junior guard Lola Mullaney early in the second which gave the Crimson a 21-20 lead – their last of the game.
Despite a five three-pointer performance from Mullaney, it wasn’t enough, as the Lions would go on to outscore the Crimson 18-8 to close out the second quarter going into halftime with a 38-29 lead. Columbia’s offense came alive in the third quarter, including a 10-0 run that gave the Lions a 17-point lead. Columbia outscored Harvard 26-9 in the quarter to take a commanding 26-point lead entering the fourth. The Lions opened up the fourth with a layup from senior guard/forward Kaitlyn Davis, giving them a 28-point lead, their largest of the afternoon.
Senior guard Jaida Patrick and junior guard Abbey Hsu led the way for the Lions, each totaling 15 points and Hsu knocking down three triples. But the Lions got everyone involved, posting 23 assists with four players scoring in double digits and 10 registering buckets. Senior guard Carly Rivera led the team with five dimes.
The Lions also owned the boards, outrebounding Harvard 56 -20, including 23-6 on the offensive glass. Davis led the team with a game-high 11 boards while sophomore guard Kitty Henderson recorded nine, tying her season-high and bringing her one rebound short of a double-double.
On the other end, Harvard found itself in foul trouble for most of the game, committing 21 fouls. Forbes fouled out in the fourth quarter, while senior guard Maggie McCarthy and first-year guard Saniyah Glenn-Bello each committed four fouls.
2021-22 Ivy Rookie of the Year Harmoni Turner came off the bench for Harvard, logging 25 minutes, Turner tied a season scoring low with just five points on 2-for-8 field-goal shooting.
Columbia will look to keep the momentum going as it travels to Ithaca on Martin Luther King Jr. Day for a battle with Cornell (8-8, 1-2) at 2 p.m.
On the strength of 14 three-pointers and a 30-point third quarter, the Columbia women soundly defeated UMass at the Mullins Center on Saturday afternoon, their second straight takedown of an opponent that defeated them in New York City last year.
“This is huge. We called it revenge week,” Abbey Hsu told Columbia Athletics following the win. “This was to prove that we are a better team than we were last year. We want to be a team that competes with teams in the post-season and we proved that tonight.”
“I love any buzz about our team,” coach Megan Griffith said at her weekly media availability. “Anytime somebody’s talking about our program, it’s a good thing.”
After crushing Arkansas-Pine Bluff by 38 and outlasting Miami in front of its home fans en route to winning the Miami Thanksgiving Tournament title Sunday, there’s definitely positive buzz about Columbia women’s basketball.
Just since this weekend’s games, the team has moved up to No. 9 in the College Insider Mid-Major Top 25. ESPN has listed the Lions as the automatic Ivy League qualifier and a No. 12 seed for the NCAA Tournament.
Returning over 96% of the team’s points, rebounds and minutes from last year’s WNIT quarterfinal team, expectations are high for the Columbia women this season. The Lions took their initial step toward the program’s first ever NCAA Tournament bid with a 77-69 victory over Memphis at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse on Monday night.
The game was knotted at seven halfway through the opening frame, but the Tigers finished the quarter on a 11-2 run. Down eight with just over a minute to go, the Lions returned the favor and ended the half on 8-2 run to cut the deficit to two. Memphis extended the lead to four, 54-50, after three quarters.
But the game would quickly turn in Columbia’s favor.
It’s still Princeton’s conference until another Ivy proves that it isn’t. Our contributors are united in believing that the Tigers will stay on top in 2022-23, with Megan Griffith’s ascendant Columbia program again placing second.
But there wasn’t consensus on how the rest of the top half of the league will fill out.
Penn could break back into the Ivy League Tournament after missing it for the first time last season, but we expect the Red & Blue to draw stiff competition from Harvard and Yale in their first years under new coaches.
Will #2bidivy happen in the league for only the second time in conference history? It very well could, and the bottom half of the conference is likely to be substantially stronger this season as Brown and Dartmouth return more experienced rosters under coaches that now have a year of Ivy play under their belts.
“As we battle in the WBCA (Women’s Basketball Coaches Association), they’re always talking about “create this environment.” Any time I talk equity with anyone, they always say there’s more pressure on a man because the gyms are full, and the bands are playing. The opposite is true. It’s much easier to play in a (packed) venue like this. It’s very, very hard for women all over the country and play in empty gyms without bands, fighting their schools for support to get the bands there and to get the cheerleaders there. There’s been huge growth at Harvard, but there’s such a long way to go. It’s really wonderful for the athletes to play in this kind of venue and it’s fun to watch as well.” – soon-to-be retiring Harvard women’s coach Kathy Delaney-Smith, talking about the boisterous atmosphere during her team’s 72-67 loss to No. 1 seed Princeton
Some random thoughts after two great days at the 2022 Ivy League Tournament:
Jaida Patrick scored a season-high 20 points and Abbey Hsu set the program record for three pointers in a season, as the Columbia women (18-4, 9-1 Ivy) held off a determined Harvard (12-11, 6-5 Ivy), 74-70, to earn a spot in the 2022 Ivy League Tournament.
The victory not only ensured the Lions their second straight ticket to the league’s postseason party, but it also tied the school record for wins in a Division I season and an Ivy League campaign (2009-10).
For the first time in the calendar year, the Lions welcomed the general public to Levien Gymnasium and 1,000-plus members of the campus community came out to cheer them on in the team’s annual Play4Kay game to support the Kay Yow Foundation’s fight against cancers that affect women.