NEW YORK -- The Columbia women's basketball team connected on a season-high 15 three-pointers and broke open a close game in the second half to pick up its second straight Ivy League victory, a 72-49 decision over Brown on Friday evening at Levien Gymnasium. Junior Melissa Shafer led the long-range assault with five three-pointers and closed with a game-high 17 points to lead four Lions (3-2 in the Ivy League) in double figures.
Columbia's three-point output is the most in a single game in the Ivy League this season, overtaking the 14 three-pointers that Harvard hit against NJIT on Jan. 9. Seniors Lauren Dwyer and Kathleen Barry had three trifectas apiece, while first-year Brianna Orlich had a pair from downtown.
The contest would begin with a missed three by Orlich, but the long-distance shooting would prove fruitful on the next possession as first-year Taylor Ward drained a trey to give the Lions a lead that they would not relinquish. Columbia won wire-to-wire for the first time in 2010-11, and was only threatened late in the first half.
Four of the Lions' first five field goals in the game were three-pointers, and only four of Columbia's 12 field goals in the entire first half came within the three-point arc. Barry was the main culprit in the opening period, as she knocked down her first three three-point attempts and closed the first half with nine points. A three by Dwyer with 4:28 remaining extended the Lions' lead to 33-22, before the Bears would close the opening 20 minutes on a 7-1 run to cut their deficit to 34-29 heading into halftime.
What could very easily be lost in the tremendous performance from three-point land by Columbia is the solid contribution from first-year Courtney Bradford in the paint. Bradford made six of her nine field goal attempts in the game, and opened the scoring in the second half by scoring three points in a possession -- not from behind the arc, but rather an old-fashioned three-point play -- to bump the Lions' lead to eight at 37-29 with 17:38 to go in the second half.
Brown's Hannah Passafuime sank one-of-two free throws to put the score at 37-30, before Orlich got into the act with her first three-pointer of the game to push the home team's lead back to double digits. A triple by the Bears cut it to nine, but Shafer closed a quick 8-0 run with back-to-back threes to give Columbia its largest lead to that point in the game at 50-33 midway through the period. The Columbia lead would not sink below 12 points the rest of the game.
The Lions drilled four more three-pointers down the stretch and the contest's final bucket was fittingly a three by Shafer with 29 seconds remaining to provide Columbia its final margin of victory.
Dwyer had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals in an effective all-around contest for the Lions. Bradford finished with 13 points and a game-high eight boards, while also chipping in with three steals as Columbia swiped 15 steals for the third time in five Ivy League games. Barry saw her consecutive double-double streak end at three with nine points and five rebounds, but finished with five steals and a pair of blocks.
Aileen Daniels led Brown with 12 points and three blocks, while Lindsay Nickel came off the bench to add nine points and seven rebounds.
Columbia will look to make it three straight victories on Saturday, Feb. 5 as it hosts Yale on WBCA Pink Zone Night at Levien Gymnasium. Half of all ticket revenue will be donated to breast cancer research, as part of the national Women's Basketball Coaches Association Pink Zone initiative.
NOTES: Orlich closed as the fourth Columbia player in double-figures with 10 points, and tied Dwyer for team-high honors in assists with five. The Lions had a season-best 21 assists against 15 turnovers...Columbia forced Brown into 25 turnovers, marking the second straight game the Lions have forced 25 or more turnovers (28 by Dartmouth)...The Bears outrebounded Columbia, 45-37, including a 16-14 edge in offensive boards...Dwyer now stands just 14 points shy of becoming the ninth women's basketball player in Columbia history to score 1,000 points.