NEW YORK — Buffalo’s Brittany Morrison scored the game-winning basket with no time on the clock to steal a win away from the Columbia women’s basketball team, 65-63, Saturday afternoon at Levien Gymnasium.
After sophomore Janiya Clemmons tied the score at 63 with a minute to go, Columbia regained possession with 34 seconds left and called for time. The Lions dribbled out as much clock as they could before running their final play, but Buffalo’s defense forced senior Camille Zimmerman to throw up a desperation 16-footer with the shot clock expiring that fell off the rim and went out of bounds.
Buffalo called for time and advanced the ball with 3.6 seconds remaining. Zimmerman committed a smart foul on the in-bounds play to drain the clock to 1.2 seconds and the Bulls spent another timeout. This time, they in-bounded under the Columbia basket and drew up a play that worked to perfection. Brittany Morrison came completely free and Cierra Dillard found her for a wide-open, game-winning layup as time expired.
Columbia (5-6) led for nearly 30 minutes and went up by as many as eight points on a Zimmerman jumper early in the fourth quarter. Zimmerman led all players with a season-high 28 points on 10 of 22 shooting, and completed her fifth double-double of the year by adding a game-high 12 rebounds.
Buffalo (7-1), which entered the game rated No. 22 in the NCAA’s official RPI, went on a 9-0 run to take its first lead of the half with 6:05 remaining. The Bulls outscored Columbia 17-7 over the final eight and a half minutes and extended the lead to four points on a Cassie Oursler bucket with under four minutes remaining. Oursler finished the afternoon with a career-high 26 points on 11 of 18 shooting and also led her team with 11 rebounds.
Following Oursler’s bucket, Columbia held Buffalo off the board all the way until the final second of the game. Zimmerman hit two free throws to chop the lead in half with less than two minutes to go before Clemmons tied things up at the 1:00 mark.
The Lions led 15-14 at the end of the first quarter thanks to a Zimmerman triple at the horn. The senior had 11 first-quarter points to go with five rebounds. She had 15 points at halftime with a perfect 3-for-3 showing from beyond the 3-point arc.
Riley Casey had seven points in the second quarter, including two free throws by drawing a foul with one second left in the half to put the Lions ahead 32-27 at the break. The reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week added nine points in the third quarter, including a nice reverse off a feed from junior Abby Lee on her way to scoring a career-high 18 points. Casey was 6 of 12 shooting and a flawless 5 of 5 at the charity stripe. She also dished out a career-high five assists and played all 40 minutes.
The Lions led throughout the third period but Buffalo hung around. Columbia’s lead was never more than five over the quarter’s final seven minutes. Oursler was a big reason why, scoring 11 of her team’s 21 points while Autumn Jones had eight. Jones played 31 minutes off the bench and finished with a career-high 18 points.
The Lions were held under 40 percent shooting for just the third time this season and outrebounded for the first time in three games, 44-32. Buffalo’s win put an end to Columbia’s three-game winning streak.
Columbia has an opportunity to redeem itself on Monday, closing out the home portion of its non-conference schedule against Hofstra. The game will air on SportsNet NY (SNY) with tip slated for 7 p.m.
Post-game Notes - Senior Camille Zimmerman recorded her fifth double-double with a season-high 28 points and 12 rebounds. Zimmerman made her 94th career start to pass Danielle Brown (2006-10) for sixth on the all-time list.
- Rookie Riley Casey scored a career-high 18 points and tallied a career-high five assists.
- Seven of Columbia’s first 11 games have been decided by nine points or less.
- Saturday’s game marked the first all-time meeting between the two programs.