NEW YORK – Columbia and Yale played an even second half, with each team scoring 41 points, but a strong first half by the Bulldogs gave them a 76-51 victory at the final buzzer.
First-year Tori Oliver led all scorers with 14 points, but 10 Bulldogs scored, paced by 13 from Lena Munzer and Meredith Boardman. The Columbia defense excelled, holding Yale’s top scorers, Sarah Halejian (15.3 ppg) and Janna Graf (10.6 ppg) to five and eight points, respectively.
Columbia, who was playing without senior Taylor Ward, the Ivy League’s leader in minutes played, battled early on to keep the contest close. The Lions used a pair of long range triples from Miwa Tachibana and Carolyn Binder, to stay within three points, 9-6, with 15 minutes left in the half. Yale took control over the next 10 minutes, as the Lions struggled to find its offensive rhythm, going on a 16-4 run that extended the lead to 25-10. Oliver scored all of the Lions four points over that stretch.
The Bulldogs ended the half on a 10-0 spurt that sent the game to the intermission with Yale ahead 35-10. Despite the score, the Lions outrebounded the Bulldogs, 22-21, through the first 20 minutes of action.
Out of the halftime break, Oliver provided a spark that the Lions’ offense had been missing, scoring five straight points that included a fast break lay-in off a Tachibana steal. Devon Roeper got in on the scoring for the Lions, scoring consecutive buckets in the paint with 12 minutes left to play.
As the game passed the 10 minute mark, Columbia’s 3-point shooting kicked in with treys from Tachibana and sophomore Sara Mead on back-to-back possessions. Yale though, responded with the game’s next two baskets to extend the lead to 61-33.
Yale maintained its advantage throughout the remainder of the half, but not without a solid effort from Columbia. First-year Carolyn Gallagher absorbed a great deal of contact under the hoop, but finished the lay-up and the free throw for the old fashioned three-point play with 4:24 remaining on the clock. Columbia also amped up the defensive effort, with Bradford, Kayla Patton and Oliver each recording steals, but Yale was able to ride out the late charge for the win.
Columbia is back in action Saturday night, taking on Brown in Levien Gym at 7 p.m.