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Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Herold Roy

Women's Basketball Opens 2012-13 Season vs. LIU, Vermont

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NEW YORK -- Columbia women's basketball is set to kick off the 2012-13 season this Friday for a noon showdown against Long Island in Levien Gymnasium. The Lions will then head north to take to take on Vermont on Sunday at 1 p.m. Columbia welcomes back 13 letterwinners from last year including a pair of senior co-captains, Tyler Simpson and Brittany Simmons.

Columbia is 12-16 in season openers in its history. Last season, the Lions fell to Vermont, 63-52 in the season opener. The last opening win was in 2009-10, when Columbia beat Sacred Heart, 79-55.

The Lions maintain a 14-14 record in the first home game of each season throughout history, including last year's loss to Vermont.

LIU returns one starter and seven letterwinners from a team that went 21-10 in 2011-12, and 10-8 in the NEC. The Blackbirds were selected to finish sixth in the Northeast Conference in this year’s preseason poll. Seniors Ebony Davis, Tamika Guz and Krystal Wells will lead the Blackbirds in the 2012-13 season, along with returners Tiffany Patterson, Cleandra Roberts, Kelly Robinson and Letava Whippy.


The Lions and the Blackbirds have one of the oldest rivalries in Columbia basketball history, as the two teams have been facing off since 1986, just two years after the program started. The Lions lead the all-time series 8-4 after most recently falling to the Blackbirds last season in Brooklyn, 58-50. Over the years, the two teams have had several close games, as seven of the 11 games have been decided by five points or less.

The Catamounts posted a record of 10-20 last season (4-12 America East) and return the top-five scorers from last year, including America East All-Rookie Team selections Tierra Shumpert and Niki Taylor, along with All-Defensive team performer Shanai Heber. In the 2012-13 America East Women’s Basketball Preseason Poll, Vermont was selected in a tie for fourth with New Hampshire.

Vermont leads the series 3-0, as the Catamounts notched wins over Columbia in the 1998-99 season (79-65), 1999-2000 season (86-60) and 2011-12 season (63-52).

Once again, Columbia brings back two seniors who will be crucial to Columbia’s success in the 2012-13 season. Senior co-captains Brittany Simmons and Tyler Simpson will lead the Lions into the year. Simpson earned Honorable Mention All-Ivy recognition following a breakout junior season last year and led Columbia in scoring, averaging 12.6 points per game, including a career-high 26 points against Brown. Simmons bounced back from an injury in 2010-11 to see action in 18 games, during which she posted a season-high nine points against Vermont in the season opener and again vs. Morgan State.

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