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HACKENSACK, N.J. – First-year Tori Oliver scored a career-high 14 points and junior Miwa Tachibana matched her career-best with 17, but it wasn’t enough Sunday afternoon for the Columbia women’s basketball team, as Fairleigh Dickinson defended its home court with a 69-59 victory. Courtney Bradford finished just one-point shy of a double-double, securing a season-high 10 boards and nine points.
Columbia grabbed 15 offensive rebounds in the game, leading to 14 second chance points, but FDU registered a 32-18 advantage in points in the paint, while also converting at a 40.3 percent clip from the field compared to Columbia’s 29.7 percent.
The start of the game saw both squads struggle to find their offensive rhythm, going into the first media break knotted at 5-5. Columbia came out the first stoppage and scored four quick points to go up 9-8, as Oliver grabbed an offensive board and dropped in the put back, while classmate Carolyn Binder knocked down a pair from the free throw line.
The Lions continued to click on the offensive end of the floor, pushing their lead to nine, 25-16, with a 16-8 run. Oliver and Binder each hit from downtown on consecutive possessions, followed by back-to-back jumpers from Tachibana.
The Knights responded in strong fashion, going on an 11-0 run over a 4:04 stretch just past the midway point of the half. Tachibana ended the Columbia scoring drought with two from charity stripe at the 5:04 mark, evening the score at 27-27.
Tachibana got the Lions within two, 37-35, just before halftime, hitting her fourth field goal of the half. Conservative 3-point shooting by the Knights helped them maintain the lead at the break. Taking just six attempts from deep, FDU connected four times, with Brianna Thomas making both of her triples. Conversely, the Lions were just 3-of-15 from long range.
Columbia came out strong to begin the second stanza, posting an 8-4 run to go up 43-39, forcing FDU to burn a timeout with 16:28 remaining. Amara Mbionwu dropped in pair of layups around a Taylor Ward trey for the Lions during the run.
Once again, FDU responded by scoring 15 of the game’s next 20 points to take a 56-51 lead with just over 11 minutes left to play. Tiffany Grant extended the FDU advantage to seven when she hit a layup in transition off a pass from Amanda Andrades.
Bradford would cut the deficit to three with two free throws with 8:40 left to play, but the Knights’ offense continued to score, going on a 9-0 run this time to extend the lead to 12 points, 65-53. Oliver and Bradford would chip away at the lead from the free throw line, but Kelsey Cruz’s 3-pointer with 1:54 left gave FDU an 11-point lead to seal the contest.
The Lions next take the court in Portland, Ore. when they takes on the Portland Pilots on Friday, Nov. 29 at 10 p.m.