“I’m disappointed but not discouraged,” Lions coach Paul Nixon said after the Columbia women’s basketball team lost to Brown 72-63 in overtime Friday night. While the Lions (2-19, 0-7 Ivy) lost yet another game to Yale 73-59 on Saturday night, their competitive performance and offensive production have shown improvement from earlier Ivy League matchups.
Nixon’s optimism comes from the fact that the Lions competed in both of their weekend games before being undone by late runs. Columbia traded the lead with Brown (14-8, 5-3 Ivy) five times before struggling offensively in overtime. The Lions’ game with Yale (14-8, 6-2 Ivy) featured six lead changes before the Bulldogs dominated the last 10 minutes of the second half.
“I thought, for the first 40 minutes, we played our best Ivy game of the season so far,” Nixon said after the loss to Brown.
Indeed, the Lions had one of their best offensive performances at Brown, as they shot 36 percent and made seven three-pointers. Junior guard/forward Tyler Simpson and senior guard Melissa Shafer led the Lions’ offense with 28 and 18 points respectively. The game was fairly close throughout, with the Lions coming back to take a 31-29 halftime lead after Brown had led 20-12 earlier in the first half. Both teams remained evenly matched in the second half, and the game went into overtime after Light Blue sophomore guard Nicole Santucci missed a layup at the end of regulation. In overtime, though, the Lions were outscored 16-6, due in large part to their four turnovers.
“We had the lead down to one before we made two consecutive turnovers that led to breakaway layups for them,” Nixon said. “They weren’t just turnovers like a travel or we threw it out of bounds. We literally just threw the ball to them. They were kind of the most awful turnovers you can give up. We went down from being down one to being down five in a few possessions.”
The Light Blue had a great start to its game at Yale, jumping out to a 29-17 lead thanks to 56 percent shooting in the first 15 minutes. The Bulldogs offense recovered, though, and it managed to cut the Lions’ lead to two at halftime. In the second half, the sides were fairly evenly matched in the first 10 minutes before the Bulldogs managed to pull away. Yale outscored Columbia 27-14 in the last 10 minutes of the game, with junior guard Megan Vasquez scoring 11 of her career-high 28 points over that span.
“We played really well in the first 30 minutes of the game,” Nixon said. “The last 10 minutes, we let the game get away from us because we stopped really aggressively attacking on offense.”
The Lions’ collapse in the second half may have been partially due to fatigue, as the team had just played an overtime game with Brown the night before.
“[...] The biggest problem with fatigue is that a lot of times as a player, you don’t even really realize it’s happening to you,” Nixon said.
The Light Blue will seek its first Ivy League win when it hosts Princeton on Friday. It will then face Penn the following day in Levien Gymnasium.