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NEW YORK -- Ivy League actions kicks into full swing this weekend as the Columbia women's basketball team remains home to host Penn and Princeton. The Lions will first face the Quakers on Friday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. before taking on the Tigers Saturday night in a 7 p.m. tipoff at Levien Gym.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. PENN
Penn holds the advantage in the all-time series with Columbia, 35-18. Last season, the Lions fell 75-50 to the Quakers in the Palestra before dropping a 61-41 decision in Levien Gym. Columbia's last win over Penn came during the 2010 season in a 61-54 score at Levien Gym.
SCOUTING THE QUAKERS
A late comeback attempt fell short in the final non-conference game of the season for Penn last Wednesday. The Quakers trailed Temple by 24, but made it an eight-point game in the closing minutes before falling, 59-51, at The Palestra. Alyssa Baron leads the Quakers this year averaging 15.1 points (good for third in the conference) and 5.9 rebounds per contest. Defensively, Courtney Wilson and Kara Bonenberger are tied for second in the Ivy League, averaging 1.5 blocked shots per game, while the Quakers as a team lead the conference averaging 4.3 blocks per contest.
ALL-TIME SERIES VS. PRINCETON
The Lions will look to snap an eight-game losing skid to Princeton, which holds the all-time series advantage, 44-20. Columbia fell 95-35 on the road and 86-46 in Levien Gym a season ago to the Tigers, who are currently on a 25-game winning streak in the Ivy League.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Princeton opened Ivy League action with ease by taking a 77-47 victory over Penn on Jan. 12. The Tigers shot 49.2 percent (32-for-65) from the field, as three players scored in double figures in the winning effort. The win marked Princeton's 25th consecutive Ivy League victory. The Tigers sit atop numerous statistical categories in the Ivy League this season, including scoring margin (+12.8), scoring offense (69.9), scoring defense (57.1), rebounding margin (+9.9), assists (16.3) and tied with Columbia in steals (10.1). Niveen Rasheed is the leading scorer and rebounder for Princeton, checking in at second in the league with 16.4 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per contest. Rasheed is tied with Columbia's Brittany Simmons for the league lead in steals, as each player is grabbing 2.4 per game. In addition, Kristen Helmstetter leads the Ivy League with a .521 field goal percentage (50-of-96).
NEW TWITTER HANDLE
Columbia fans can now follow the women's basketball team's new twitter account, @CULionsWBB. In addition, be sure to follow Columbia Athletics, @GoColumbiaLions, and use the hashtag #RoarLionRoar.
ON THE AIR
All home women's basketball contests can be seen and heard live via webcast on gocolumbialions.com. In tonight's contest, play-by-play announcer Lance Medow will be calling all the action, joined by Margaret McKeon for color analysis. Medow, who has done work for MLB.com, Giants.com, Sirius XM Satellite Radio and MTV Networks, is in his seventh season as the play-by-play personality for Columbia women's basketball games. McKeon enters into her first year on the air with the Lions after previously serving as the head women's basketball coach from 2007-2012 at the New Jersey Insititute of Technology.
LAST TIME OUT
Columbia fought to the final seconds but dropped a heartbreaking 71-64 decision to Cornell in double overtime last Saturday in Levien Gymnasium. The Lions bounced back from a tough first half 29-19 deficit with a commanding 34-24 advantage in the second frame to end regulation knotted with the Big Red, 53-53. The two teams were neck-and-neck in the first overtime. The Lions got a shot off with 1.7 seconds on the clock, but it fell just short, forcing a second overtime. Cornell opened the final frame on a 6-2 run before converting five free throws to come out with the victory. The Big Red finished with a 17-of-21 (81 percent) effort from the foul line, compared to 6-of-12 (50 percent) by the Lions. Columbia had three players in double figures, led by Courtney Bradford's double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Tyler Simpson had a team-high 17 points, while Brittany Simmons fell just short of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards.
STEALER SIMMONS & THE LIONS
Brittany Simmons grabbed a career-high eight steals against Cornell on Jan. 19, and currently leads the Ivy League with 2.4 steals per game. As a team, the Lions are tied with Princeton in leading the league in steals, as each team is averaging 10.1 steals this season.
Tyler Simpson is averaging 10.4 points per contest this season, good for 13th in the Ivy League). The senior has reached double figures in nine of the Lions' contests, scoring a season-high 22 points vs. Iona on Dec. 7.
Write it down; Sara Mead is one Lion you won't want to forget. The first-year has slowly but surely moved her way into the starting five for the Lions, and she's been a force ever since. Hot from deep, Mead is averaging 30.8 percent (16-of-52) from beyond the arc, and has knocked down a trio of three-pointers on three occasions so far this season.
Courtney Bradford has been a monster on defense, leading the Lions with 6.2 rebounds per game and 16 blocks to date this season. The junior currently ranks fifth in the conference in rebounds, fifth in offensive rebounds (2.4 per game) and eighth in defensive rebounds (3.8 per contest). Largely thanks to recording a career-high four blocks earlier this season at Vermont, Bradford checks in seventh in the Ivy League, averging just under one block per game (0.9).