NEW YORK – The Columbia women’s basketball team held a 29-26 advantage at halftime, with junior Miwa Tachibana scoring 14 points, but Harvard rallied for the 64-51 victory Saturday night at Levien Gym.
The first half was a two-player show, as Tachibana scored all of her points in the first 20 minutes, while Temi Fagbenle had 23 to pace the Crimson. Columbia went ahead by nine midway through the opening stanza with Tachibana drilling a triple, holding Harvard to just four points in the first nine minutes.
Columbia maintained its cushion through the majority of the half assisted by a Carolyn Binder trey with 7:05 left to play and buckets from Carolyn Gallagher, Tachibana and Devon Roeper the rest of the way. Harvard closed the half on a 5-0 run though, cutting the deficit to just three, 29-26, at the break.
Points off turnovers favored Columbia in the first half, 6-0, while the Lions also held the edge in second-chance points, 6-4, and bench points, 7-3.
Harvard’s offense came alive in the second half, taking the lead six minutes into the action. First-year Tori Oliver and senior Taylor Ward did the first scoring of the half to put Columbia in front 34-26, but the Crimson went on an 11-0 run to go up 37-34 with 13:16 remaining.
Binder tied the game back up just over a minute later with another from long range, but Elise Gordon responded on the other end for Harvard with a layup, giving it the lead for good. Columbia scored the game’s final four points on a lay-in from senior Courtney Bradford and two free throws by Amara Mbionwu, but Harvard came away with the win.
Fagbenle ended the game with 31 points and 18 rebounds, doing almost half the scoring. Her performance was necessary, as Columbia’s defense held the Ivy League’s leading scorer, Christine Clark (17.1 ppg) to just 12 and the other three starters to just three points. Tachibana’s early 14 points paced Columbia, while Tori Oliver reached double figures again with 12.
The Lions wrap up the regular season next weekend with a swing through Pennsylvania and New Jersey to take on Penn and Princeton.