BROOKLYN, N.Y. – Carolyn Binder scored a game-high 28 points in her first collegiate game on 9-of-14 shooting, leading the Columbia women’s basketball team to a 62-59 victory on the road at LIU Brooklyn Friday night. The win is the first season-opening win for Columbia since knocking off Sacred Heart to begin the 2009-10 campaign and marks head coach Stephanie Glance's first win helm of the Columbia women's basketball program.
Taking care of the basketball proved to be a key component Friday evening, as the Lions’ defense forced 23 LIU Brooklyn turnovers, which led to 21 Columbia points. Senior Taylor Ward finished tied with a game-high three steals, while junior Miwa Tachibana and first-year Devon Roeper each had two takeaways.
The Blackbirds got on the board first when Letava Whippy connected on consecutive layups assisted by Kelly Robinson to give the Blackbirds a 4-0 lead just over two minutes into the action. Miwa Tachibana recorded the first two baskets of the 2013-14 season for Columbia, knocking down a pair of jumpers to send the game to the first media timeout with the Lions down, 8-4.
LIU Brooklyn was able to build a 12-6 advantage after the break, its largest lead to that point, but the Lions responded with a 13-6 run to take their first lead of the contest, 19-18, at the 11:21, forcing the Blackbirds to call timeout. Roeper and Binder each scored their first collegiate points during the run, while Tachibana drilled a 3-pointer to add to her growing point total.
The Blackbirds evened the score at 22-22 at the 8:54 off an Aleisha Myers layup, but Columbia fired right back, as Tachibana hit her second trey of the half. Carolyn Gallagher and Binder combined to score the next seven points to give the Lions a 32-28 lead at the final media break of the opening stanza.
Columbia used an 8-5 run to close out the opening half with a seven-point lead, 40-33. Binder led all scorers at the intermission with 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 3-of-4 from downtown. Tachibana also reached double figures in the opening 20 minutes, tallying 10 points, while Sara Mead and Courtney Bradford each grabbed four boards. The 40 points Columbia scored was the single-highest total for one half of play since the Lions played at Harvard on March 2, 2012.
Halftime adjustments led to the Blackbirds posting an 11-2 run to begin the second half before consecutive baskets from Binder with 22 seconds put Columbia back ahead 46-44. Binder’s first bucket came off a jumper from the left side and she then finished a transition layup after a quick Taylor Ward steal on the other end.
With just under eight minutes left to play, Binder drained a triple from the right corner off an inbound play to give the Lions a two-point edge, 53-51. On Columbia’s first two possessions after the under eight media timeout, Binder knocked down a pair jumpers to extend the Lions’ lead to 57-51 with 6:11 left on the clock.
As time continued to tick off the clock, the Blackbirds were able to close the gap to just a single point, 59-58, but missed two free throws and then the Lion’s defense forced a five-second violation to take possession of the ball with 32 seconds left to play. After Binder hit two free throws and Ward another, the Lions held a 62-59 edge with LIU taking possession under 10 seconds. Brianna Farris missed a 3-point attempt from the wing and Roeper grabbed the rebound to clinch the season-opening victory for the Lions.
Columbia hosts San Francisco (0-1) on Sunday in the first game of the season at Levien Gymnasium. Tip-off against the Dons is set for 2 p.m.