Women's Basketball Wins Third Straight; Fights Past Yale, 67-57
Courtesy: Columbia University Athletics/Mike McLaughlin

NEW YORK -- A total team effort helped the Columbia women's basketball to its third straight victory on Saturday night. 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.

For the second straight night, Shafer sparked the Lions off the bench by scoring a team-high 14 points and dishing out six assists. Ball closed a 13-3 run at the end of the first half with a coast-to-coast layup as time expired, and finished with a career-high 10 points as the Columbia bench outscored Yale's 30-17. Senior Kathleen Barry had 12 points and a team-best eight rebounds, while first-year Brianna Orlich added 13 points and four assists.

A layup by Yale senior Mady Gobrecht gave the visiting team an 8-7 lead with 16:42 remaining, before the Lions went on a 10-2 spurt fueled by a pair of three-pointers by Shafer. The second trey of the run gave the Lions a 17-10 lead with 12:38 left in the opening period.

The Bulldogs racheted up the defensive pressure over the ensuing nine minutes, limiting Columbia to just 2-of-11 shooting and forcing nine turnovers during the span as they turned a seven-point deficit into a 29-22 advantage with 3:42 to go in the first half. Megan Vasquez and Allie Messimer paired to score 11 of the team's 19 points during the 19-5 run.

After a media timeout, Orlich and Shafer each assisted on the other's three-pointer on back-to-back possessions to cut Columbia's deficit to one. Senior Lauren Dwyer would knock down a short jumper on the next trip down off a feed from Ball to regain the lead for the Lions, 30-29, with 1:46 to go.

Ball would score the final five points for Columbia in the half, including the fast-break, left-handed layup off a press break on a beautifully drawn-up play by head coach Paul Nixon. The Lions entered the locker room with a 35-32 lead.

Momentum stayed in the favor of the home team to start the second half, as Orlich knocked down a three just 18 seconds into the period and first-year Courtney Bradford converted in the lane to bump the cushion to 40-32 less than a minute into the stanza.

The lead swelled to double-digits on a nice drive by Ball, but six quick points by the Bulldogs pulled the visitors to within four at 52-48 with 8:08 remaining.

From there, two quick hoops by sophomore Tyler Simpson and Orlich pushed the margin back to eight, and another bucket by Simpson extended the lead back to double-figures with 5:06 on the clock.

Two free throws by Yale forward Michelle Cashen got the Bulldogs to within eight at the 4:49 mark, but that is as close as it would get the rest of the way as the Lions were able to fend off Yale's pressure and knock down 5-of-7 free throws over the final 2:21.

Columbia will look to make it four straight as it hits the road on Friday, Feb. 11 to take on defending Ivy League champion Princeton.

NOTES: Half of all ticket revenue from the game will be donated to Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Columbia University Medical Center for breast cancer research...Dwyer closed with four points on 2-of-8 shooting and is now within 10 points of 1,000 for her career...Columbia forced 25 turnovers and held a decisive 30-8 advantage on points off turnovers, even though the Lions committed 22 of their own...First-year Taylor Ward and Barry each had four steals as Columbia recorded at least 15 steals in a game for the third straight game...The Lions connected on 80.0 percent of their free throws (12-15), while Yale hit 11-of-18 attempts (61.1%)...Shafer is 11-for-27 (40.7%) from three-point land in her last four games.