NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- Using a dominant defensive performance in the second half that limited Yale to just 14.8 percent shooting from the field, the Columbia women's basketball team picked up its first victory of the season away from Levien Gymnasium, 48-42, over the Bulldogs on Friday evening. The Lions entered the contest 0-11 on the road, but were able to knock off second-place Yale for the second time this season in thrilling fashion.
Senior Kathleen Barry was a force throughout, picking up nine rebounds, blocking two shots and pilfering two steals while chipping in nine points. First-year Brianna Orlich led the Lions offensively with 11 points, while junior Melissa Shafer added 10.
Trailing by four with 3:12 remaining, Shafer led the charge back with a critical three-pointer at the top of the key that cut the deficit to 40-39 at the 3:00 mark. Nineteen seconds later, Yale's Megan Vasquez connected on just her third field goal of the game, an elbow jumper, to bump the Bulldog lead back to three at 42-39. Vasquez, who had 18 points in the first meeting between the two schools, was held to eight points on just 3-of-12 shooting, primarily thanks to Barry's tremendous defense.
The Lions came right back with a nice offensive possession, as first-year Taylor Ward converted on a nifty reverse layup off a nice feed from senior Lauren Dwyer, who closed with a game-high five assists. The score pulled Columbia to within one again with 2:23 remaining in the second half.
Yale senior Mady Gobrecht missed at the other end, and committed a foul with just under two minutes left to send Orlich to the line for a pair. The 5-11 guard couldn't convert on either chance, but more than made up for her misses just seconds later.
On the ensuing Bulldog possession, Orlich cut in front of a pass by Janna Graf and went coast-to-coast for a layup to give Columbia a one-point lead, 43-42, with 1:24 to go.
Back at the other end, the Lions were able to get another defensive stop with Barry coming down with the rebound. Columbia raced up the court and took a timeout to set up a play.
Out of the break, the Lions got the ball on the right block to Barry. Being guarded by the shorter Vasquez, Barry turned and banked home a left-handed hook to extend Columbia's lead to 45-42 with 54 seconds left.
Yale brought the ball back down the floor looking for the tie, and found Gobrecht open on the right wing. But the 6-2 post player couldn't find the range from three-point land and the miss again found the hands of Barry.
Forced to foul, the Bulldogs sent Ward to the line. The Oregon City, Ore. native, who ranks second on the team from the charity stripe at 73.9 percent, calmly stepped to the line and sank both to give the Lions a five-point cushion with 20 ticks remaining.
A miss by Vasquez, another rebound by Barry and a free throw by the first team Academic All-American with five seconds remaining provided the final margin of victory for the Lions.
The first half saw the Lions sprint out to a 12-2 lead, as a layup by Orlich capped the run at the 11:53 mark. The double-digit advantage would be short-lived, however, as Yale responded with a 16-3 spurt of its own to gain a three-point advantage. The Bulldogs would lead by as many as five in the first half before a layup by Orlich with 1:20 left in the period pulled the Lions to within 24-21 at intermission.
Columbia, who improved to 6-7 in Ivy League play with the win, will look to close out a third consecutive conference season at .500 or better in the conference on Saturday, Mar. 5 as it takes on Brown at 7 p.m.