KENNESAW, Ga. – Sophomore Sara Mead shot a scorching 6-of-9 from the field with three 3-pointers to lead four Columbia scorers in double-figures, as the Lions took down Kennesaw State on the road, 78-61, Saturday afternoon. Senior Taylor Ward dropped in a season-high 15 points and matched her career-high with seven boards, while junior Miwa Tachibana and first-year Tori Oliver chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively.
The Lions 78 points is the second-highest total of the year, while Saturday’s game marks the first time this season four players have reached double-digits in one game this season. Columbia’s 50-point second half is their highest 20-minute total this season.
The Owls opened the game on a 6-0 run with Kristina Wells and Deandrea Sawyers hitting from long range, but Tachibana responded with a triple of her own to get Columbia on the board at the 17:22 mark. Tachibana tallied seven of the Lions first eight points to keep Columbia within two, 10-8, five minutes into the contest.
KSU put together another 6-0 spurt to go back up by eight, but the Lions fired right back with a 9-2 stretch of their own to trail by just one, 18-17, at the under-eight media break. Courtney Bradford and Tori Oliver started the run and Tachibana capped it with another 3-pointer, giving her 10 points through the first 12 minutes.
The game stayed close over the next six minutes before Taylor Ward was able to give Columbia its first lead when she converted an and-one play on a fast break with just over 90 seconds until the intermission. The Lions defense buckled down and stopped KSU from scoring on its next possession and Devon Roeper laid in her second bucket of the game to put Columbia ahead 28-25 at the half.
Amara Mbionwu crashed the boards well in the first 20 minutes, pulling down eight rebounds, and would add two more in the second half to finish with a new season-high 10 rebounds. Tachibana’s 10 points led all scorers, with Ward chipping in five points and five rebounds.
Columbia picked up where it left off after halftime, with Sara Mead draining a three from the wing and Bradford knocking down a jumper to push the lead to eight, 33-25. Ward followed up with a trey from the left side and the Lions forced KSU to burn a timeout less than two minutes into the half.
The stop in play did little to cool off the Columbia offense with Ward and Mead leading the charge. Ward lined up and drilled another triple set up by Mead, with Mead then taking a steal coast-to-coast for a hard-fought lay-up. Mead would sink the free throw to convert the and-one attempt, extending the Lions lead to 44-31. Ward then capitalized on an Mbionwu offensive rebound, hitting from behind the arc to put the Lions up by 16, 49-33, with 14 minutes left to play.
Mead’s stellar half continued, as she swished two more over the next five minutes, to eclipse her previous career-high of 11 points. Roeper made the Owls pay with another successful and-one situation, pushing the Lions advantage to 67-47 with under eight minutes left.
That cushion remained intact for the balance of the half, with KSU getting only as close as 17 with one minute left.
The Lions will be back in action next Saturday, Dec. 28 when they host Lehigh at Levien Gym at 2 p.m.