HOUSTON – Following a 17-day break for finals and holidays, the Columbia women’s basketball team returns to game action this week for two games in the state of Texas. The first game of the trip is Thursday against Houston at 6 p.m. ET. The Lions play Rice Saturday on ESPN3 with tip slated for 3 p.m. ET before flying back to New York that evening.
• The Lions will play their first games in Texas since December of 1999. Columbia took on TCU and North Texas, that year, including a New Year's Eve contest at North Texas on the final day of the millennium. The Lions also visited the Lone Star State in January of 1993, suffering a 10-point loss to Rice and defeating UT-Pan American, 63-60.
• Columbia has won four of its last five games, including a 22-point victory over Hofstra in the team's last outing on Dec. 11 in New York. The Lions trailed 32-31 at halftime, but outscored Hofstra 24-6 in the third period to pull away. Senior Camille Zimmerman scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down a career-high 10 offensive rebounds to lead the Lions to a 21-7 advantage in second-chance points.
• Houston represents the fifth RPI Top 50 team on Columbia's schedule this season (according to the NCAA's official RPI). The Lions have also taken on defending national champion Mississippi State (No. 3), Green Bay (No. 4), Buffalo (No. 30) and Arizona State (No. 46). Columbia nearly defeated Buffalo, leading the game for almost 30 minutes and taking as large as an eight-point lead, but the Bulls hit a shot at the buzzer to steal the victory.
• Senior Camille Zimmerman leads the Lions in points (21.1), rebounds (8.8), assists (3.3), steals (0.9) and blocks (0.7). She is Columbia's all-time leading scorer with 1,661 career points and has been named Ivy League Player of the Week twice this season and nine times in her career.
• Senior Camille Zimmerman has scored in double figures in 39 consecutive games. She has led Columbia in scoring in all 12 games this season. She leads the Ivy League in several statistical categories, including points per game (21.1), total points (253), double-doubles (6) and field goals made (91). Zimmerman's scoring average and total points rank among the top-20 nationally. She is also 11th in the nation in free throws made (66) and top-50 in free throw percentage (86.8 pct.).
• Columbia is 13th in the NCAA in free throw percentage at 77.2 percent for the season. Senior Camille Zimmerman, junior Abby Lee and first-year Riley Casey and Madison Pack are all hitting at above 85 percent.
• Riley Casey is Columbia's second-leading scorer at 10.7 points per game. She has scored in double figures in each of her last five games, including a season-high 18 points against Buffalo (Dec. 9). She is averaging 13.8 points and shooting 53.3% (24-45) over her last five games.
• Senior Paige Tippet, senior Jillian Borreson and sophomore Maya Sampleton all hail from the state of Texas. Tippet calls League City her hometown, just outside of Houston, and played three years at Clear Springs High School. The Lions practiced at Tippet’s alma mater on Tuesday. Borreson is from 180 miles west of Houston in Mountain City, which sits between Austin and San Antonio. Sampleton grew up in the capital of Austin.
• Houston (10-3) has won two straight and eight of its last nine heading into its final non-conference game. The Cougars are playing their home games at Texas Southern's H&PE Arena this season while Hofheinz Pavilion is being renovated. UH is 4-0 at its alternate home, which includes a 79-75 victory over Texas Tech on Dec. 3. Houston's lone loss over its last nine games came at Rutgers, 75-57, on Dec. 16. The loss snapped a six-game winning streak that started with victories over Liberty and Northeastern at UMass Thanksgiving Tournament. Houston fell at Boston College, 79-74, a team that Columbia defeated, 68-60, in New York. UH has been one of the top defensive teams in the country, ranking sixth in the NCAA in total steals (165), 12th in steals per game (12.7) and top-50 in turnover margin (+4.46). They lead The American Athletic Conference in each of those defensive categories. Sophomore guard Jasmyne Harris leads the Cougars with 18.0 points per game. Harris’ 234 total points this season ranks fifth in the conference and 39th in the nation.
• Rice (9-2) has won four straight games, all by double figures, including a 20-point road victory over Prairie View A&M last Thursday. The Owls' only two losses came on the road against power conference opponents Kansas, 73-65, and then-No. 18/25 Texas A&M, 82-76. They are a perfect 4-0 at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 13.0 points per game. Columbia also represents the final game of the non-conference season for Rice. The Owls are 8-0 this season when holding opponents below 70 points. They allow just 59.7 points per game on the season and have not allowed an opponent to reach 60 points in six of their last seven victories. Redshirts sophomore Erica Ogwumike is averaging a team-best 19.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Her scoring average ranks 53rd nationally and No. 3 in Conference USA. Nicole Iademarco (16.2) and sister Olivia Ogwumike (11.7) also average doubles figures for the Owls.
ZIMMERMAN EARNS SECOND PLAYER OF THE WEEK
• Senior Camille Zimmerman was named Ivy League Player of the Week following her 24-point, 13-rebound performance in Columbia's most-recent outing, a 75-53 victory over Hofstra (Dec. 11). Zimmerman filled up the stat sheet with three assists, two steals and a block, and recorded her sixth double-double of the season. The senior pulled down 10 offensive rebounds and was also a finalist for the NCAA's Starting Five Players of the Week. The Ivy POTW selection was Zimmerman's second of the season, also earning the honors Nov. 13 after averaging 23.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and shooting 65 percent against Providence and Richmond. Zimmerman has earned the Ivy League's top weekly award nine times in her career, one behind Columbia Hall of Famer Judie Lomax (2008-10) for the most by a Lion in their career.
CASEY GOES BACK-TO-BACK AS ROOKIE OF THE WEEK
• First-year Riley Casey earned back-to-back Ivy League Rookie of the Week selections (Dec. 4, Dec. 11). A guard out of Brentwood, Tennessee, Casey averaged 11.0 points and shot 57.1 percent from the field (8-14) to earn her first selection, helping the Lions to a 2-0 week over Boston College and UMBC. She hit double figures in both games, including a 12-point performance on 5 of 9 shooting in Wednesday’s 68-60 victory over Boston College. The following week, Casey averaged 15.0 points, 4.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds while shooting an impressive 52.4 percent from the field (11-21) in games against Saint Francis (PA) and Buffalo. Casey began her week with 12 points and four assists as part of Columbia’s 94-81 victory over Saint Francis (PA). She went on to post career-highs of 18 points and five assists in a game that came down to the final buzzer against Buffalo. Casey connected on 6 of her 12 attempts from the field and all five of her free throws against a team that came into the game with a top-25 RPI and a top-50 scoring defense.
TAKING DOWN THE POWER CONFERENCES
• Columbia is 3-2 in its last five games against power-conference opponents, including 2-2 this season. The Lions opened the year by defeating Providence on the road, 73-64, marking their second-straight victory over the Friars. Last season, Columbia took down Providence in overtime in New York to mark its first win in program history against a BIG EAST opponent. The Lions earned their first ACC win in program history this season when they defeated Boston College, 68-60, in front of a record 2,372 fans on Education Day. Columbia also took on then-No. 7/3 Mississippi State (SEC) and then-No. 24 Arizona State (Pac-12) at the Cancun Challenge.
• First-years Riley Casey and Madison Pack have worked their way into Columbia's starting lineup and are among the team leaders in scoring. Casey, a 5-8 guard, has started all 12 games and is second on the team in scoring with an average of 10.7 points. Pack, a 6-3 post player, has started each of the last nine games, is third on the team in scoring (6.8) and averages 4.8 rebounds. Rookies Andrea McCormick and Imani Whittington have also seen significant playing time. Whittington and McCormick have played in 10 of the 12 contests.
ADDING TO HER RECORDS
• Senior Camille Zimmerman became the 29th player in Ivy League women's basketball history to score 1,500 career points with a 10-point effort on Thanksgiving Day against Green Bay (Nov. 23). Already Columbia's all-time leading scorer, Zimmerman now has 1,661 career points, which ranks 18th in the Ivy League record books. Her career scoring average of 17.3 points per game ranks among the conference's top 10 all-time. Zimmerman now has 615 career field goals, passing Columbia Hall of Famer Kathy Gilbert '91CC, who held the record of 573 for more than 25 years. Zimmerman passed another Hall of Famer, Nora Beck '83SOA, for one of the top-five spots in career rebounds with her 12-rebound performance against Mississippi State. The senior guard-forward now has 751 career rebounds.