|Score by Quarter|
|Points||Camille Zimmerman (25)||Jovana Nogic (20)|
|Rebounds||Abby Lee (8)||Brianna Frias (7)|
|Assists||Paige Tippet (5)||Chanell Williams (3)|
|Steals||Camille Zimmerman (2)||Jovana Nogic (2)|
|Blocks||Maya Sampleton (1)||None|
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Senior Camille Zimmerman scored a game-high 25 points and the Columbia women’s basketball team put together its best shooting performance in more than three years to defeat Providence, 73-64, in Friday afternoon’s season opener at Alumni Hall.
Columbia (1-0) shot 53.1 percent (26-49) from the field, marking its best shooting game since February of 2014 against Dartmouth. Zimmerman was a big reason why, finishing the afternoon 9 of 12 from the floor to score 25 points in 29 minutes. She picked up her fourth foul just a minute into the second half, but never fouled out of the game. The senior played the entirety of the fourth quarter where she added her final seven points, helping Columbia shoot 70 percent (7-10) in the period.
“This group is really excited about writing their own story and everyone has bought in,” said head coach Megan Griffith ‘07CC, who led the Lions to their first win in program history over a Big East opponent when Columbia downed Providence last season in New York. “We have 13 people who are totally on board to do the same thing and be a part of the same mission. As a staff, we couldn’t’ ask for anything better than that.”
There were big performances all around that led the Lions to victory, including first-year Riley Casey, who totaled 14 points in her collegiate debut. Casey earned the start and was 4 for 6 from beyond the arc, including a deep 3-pointer that banked in to break a 59-all tie with 4:40 remaining. Casey played all but three minutes and added two rebounds and two assists.
“It was pretty exciting for my first game. I was a little nervous but once the ball tipped, it was just basketball,” said Casey. “We did well as a team for our first game. We followed the scout well, but this is just the beginning. We’re only looking to get better from here.”
Casey’s deep triple gave the Lions the lead for good. First-year Madison Pack extended the lead to five with a bucket on the next possession and junior Abby Lee made it a six-point game with three minutes to go. The Lions kept pushing and proved too much down the stretch, outscoring the Friars 14-5 over the final five minutes.
Lee and sophomore Janiya Clemmons scored eight points apiece. Clemmons was a perfect 3 for 3 from the field to tie her career-high in scoring, while Lee came up big on the glass, setting a new career-high and leading all players with eight rebounds. Senior Paige Tippet was running the offense and tied her career-high with five assists.
“Seeing kids step up is huge,” Griffith added. “Abby Lee had a huge night to compliment Camille. Madison Pack came in and had a big night with 26 minutes. Paige did her thing too, and Maya [Sampleton] and Janiya. Steph [Flynn] played just three minutes but hit a big three for us. I think people are realizing it’s going to take our entire village and not just one or two people, and that’s what has been special.”
Providence was led by Jovana Nogic’s team-high 20 points. Four Friars reached double figures in the scoring column, but they shot 41.5 percent as a team, which wasn’t good enough on this day against Columbia. The Lions held Providence under 35 percent in the second half.
Providence jumped ahead 11-4 halfway through the first quarter and led by as many as 10, 16-6. The Lions scored five points on the next two possessions to cut the lead in half, but the Friars pushed back up by nine in the opening period’s final seconds. Zimmerman hit a turnaround jumper at the first-quarter buzzer to make it a seven-point game.
Casey’s first collegiate basket was a 3-pointer that cut the lead to three just two minutes into the second period. Zimmerman got in foul trouble by picking up her third at the 6:58 mark and the Lions put Providence in the bonus with 5:32 before halftime. However, Providence hit just 5 of 10 free throws in the quarter and Columbia hung around. Sophomore Stephanie Flynn entered for the first time and immediately tied the game with a triple at the 4:48 mark. The Lions took their first lead since 4-2 on another Casey 3-ball and led by as many as four after a Zimmerman 3-point play. Providence squeaked back in front, 34-33, just before halftime.
Zimmerman quickly put Columbia back in front to start the third period but was forced to the bench seconds later when she picked up her fourth foul. Even without Zimmerman, the Lions remained in front. Pack scored her first collegiate bucket at the 2:57 mark. Maya Sampleton converted a memorable 3-point play after coming up with a steal, driving the length of the floor and getting hacked on the score. A step-back 3-pointer from Casey helped the Lions take a 53-50 lead into the fourth quarter.
Providence never led in the final period, but did tie the game with 5:57 to go when Allegra Botteghi completed a 3-point play. It was the 10th tie of the game, but Columbia took over from there. A 13-3 run over the next five minutes ensued and the Lions walked away with their second victory in as many tries over the Friars.
Columbia opens the home season on Sunday when it welcomes Richmond to Levien Gymnasium. Tip is set for 2 p.m.
- Camille Zimmerman scored 25 points to pull within 15 of breaking Ula Lysniak’s all-time program record of 1,447 (1983-87). She now has 1,433 career points.
- Columbia earned its second straight victory over Providence. Last season, the Lions downed the Friars in overtime in New York, 66-64, for the program’s first victory over a Big East opponent.
- Abby Lee made her first collegiate start and grabbed a career-high eight rebounds.
- Janiya Clemmons tied her career-high with eight points.
- Paige Tippet tied a career-high with five assists.