Women's Basketball Looks to Extend Winning Streak at Princeton, Penn This Weekend
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin
NEW YORK -- After winning three straight Ivy League contests at Levien Gymnasium, the Columbia women’s basketball team will hit the road for its next four games, beginning with tilts at Princeton and Penn this weekend. The Lions face off against the Tigers in a battle for second place in the conference on Friday, and close out the back-to-back against the Quakers at the historic Palestra on Saturday evening. Play-by-play announcer Lance Medow will call both games, which tip off at 7 p.m.

A total team effort helped the Columbia women’s basketball to its third straight victory on Feb. 5. Four players reached double-figures in scoring led by reserve guards Melissa Shafer and Taylor Ball, as the Lions moved to 4-2 in the Ivy League with a 67-57 triumph over Yale in front of 1,248 fans on WBCA Pink Zone Night at Levien Gymnasium.

The Tigers hold the all-time series lead, 33-16, dating back to 1985-86, and have won the last four meetings between the two schools. Columbia’s last victory over Princeton came on March 7, 2008 when the Lions took a 74-57 decision at Levien Gymnasium. The last victory for Columbia at Jadwin Gym came that same season (78-64 win on Feb. 9, 2008).

After sweeping the season series against the Quakers last year, Columbia cut Penn’s lead in the all-time series to 32-17. The 80-61 victory at the Palestra on Feb. 26, 2010, gave the Lions a season sweep over Penn for the first time since the 1988-89 season. Columbia is 4-21 all-time in road games against the Quakers.

Princeton begins play this weekend with the conference’s best overall record at 15-4, but dropped its first Ivy League contest in 22 tries to Harvard last weekend. The Tigers are 4-1 in conference play, a half-game ahead of Columbia. Princeton picked up a pair of nice non-conference wins over Southern California and Wake Forest, but has played the last seven games without last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year Niveen Rasheed who is out due to injury. Rasheed was averaging 16.4 points and 7.3 rebounds per contest prior to going down. Addie Micir, Devona Allgood and Lauren Edwards all average double figures in scoring and have started each of the Tigers 19 games.

A much-improved Penn team hits the hardwood this weekend with a 7-12 record, more than tripling last season’s win total (2). First-year Alyssa Baron has been a key part of the turnaround, as she leads the team and the Ivy League in scoring at 17.3 PPG. The Quakers have had the same starting five in 18 of their 19 games, with Jess Knapp, Caroline Nicholson, Meghan McCullough and Erin Power joining Baron in the lineup. Power ranks second to Kathleen Barry of Columbia in rebounding at 7.1 per game.

The Lions connected on 15 three-point field goals in their Feb. 4 tilt against Brown, the most three-pointers made in a single game by a Columbia team in program history. The previous high-water mark was 12, which was set multiple times, most recently against Penn on Feb. 26, 2010. The 15 triples was also the highest total for an Ivy League team in a game this season, and tied for the 10th-most in all NCAA Divsion I games in 2010-11.

Junior Melissa Shafer was named to the Ivy League weekly honor roll on Feb. 7 after averaging 15.5 points per game in a weekend sweep of Brown and Yale. Shafer led the Lions in scoring in both contests and hit eight of her 15 three-point attempts. The 5-9 guard also averaged 4.0 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 steals over the two contests.

The Lions picked up their first weekend sweep of the season against Brown and Yale, marking the third straight season that Columbia has picked up home wins against the Bears and Bulldogs on back-to-back nights. It also represents the first time in program history that the Lions have swept a specific weekend series in three consecutive seasons.

Senior Kathleen Barry has been playing at a high level during her final season at Columbia, and has earned a pair of awards over the past two weeks. She was named Ivy League Women’s Basketball Player of the Week on Jan. 30 after registering a pair of double-doubles against Harvard and Dartmouth. She was also named to the Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-District I First Team for the second straight season. Barry currently leads the Ivy League in rebounding both overall (7.5 RPG) and in conference-only games (10.3 RPG).

Senior Lauren Dwyer is on the verge of becoming the ninth player in Columbia women’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau. After scoring 18 points over the weekend, Dwyer is just 10 points shy of the 1,000-point mark. She currently stands in 9th place on the all-time scoring list at Columbia, 12 points behind Charlene Schuessler ’90BC.