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BROOKLYN, N.Y. – St. Francis shot 64.3 percent from the field and hit six 3-pointers in the second half to post a 73-47 victory over the Columbia women’s basketball team Wednesday night at The Pope Physical Education Center.
First-year Carolyn Binder went over 20 points for the third time in her short career, leading all scorers with 24 points. The first-years accounted for 34 of the Lions’ 47 points against the Terriers.
The Terriers came out and built a 10-2 lead out of the gate with Leah Fechko and Jaymee Veney hitting from long range within 22 seconds of each other. Columbia’s defense was able to buckle down after the early St. Francis barrage, holding the Terriers scoreless for a 4:06 stretch. During that span, Binder hit a pair from the free throw line and Sara Mead connected on a 3-pointer from the left corner to close the gap to 10-7.
The defenses for both teams shined through the midpoint of the first half, as neither team was able to score for almost a three-minute period. Binder snapped Columbia’s scoring drought at the 8:10 mark with an easy two in the paint, but the Terriers sandwiched a pair of treys around it to go up 18-11.
St. Francis continued to maintain control of play, going on a 9-3 run over the next seven minutes. The Lions responded with a pair of layups in the final minute of action, as Devon Roeper scored with 54 seconds on the clock and then Carolyn Gallagher found Binder on the fast break for two more. Sarah Benedetti was able to score on a put-back attempt in the waning seconds to give the Terriers a 29-18 advantage at the break.
Columbia outrebounded St. Francis in the first 20 minutes, 22-18, but the Lions struggled from behind the arc, hitting on just 1-of-9 attempts. The Terriers went 4-of-13 from deep and 11-of-26 total from the field.
The Lions’ came out with a renewed confidence in the second half, scoring on two of their first three possessions. Tori Oliver and Courtney Bradford each came down with offensive rebounds before the senior from Alpharetta, Ga. laid it in for the first points of the half. Two minutes into the half, Ward stepped in front of a St. Francis pass and took the ball coast-to-coast, finishing with a left-handed lay-up.
With St. Francis leading by 10, Binder made it her duty to cut that deficit in half, scoring the next five points for Columbia. Ward fed the rookie for a jumper with 15:32 remaining and then Gallagher found Binder for a triple on the Lions’ next trip down the court, bringing the score to 34-29.
Unfortunately for the Lions it would be as close as they would get, as St. Francis took control over the next six minutes with a 22-3 run. Benedetti served as the Terriers’ catalyst during that stretch, hitting three treys before Ward was able to hit a wide open 3-pointer of her own from the wing at the 8:11 mark to halt the run.
Binder continued to be a bright spot for Columbia, hitting her third from behind the arc on the Lions’ next possession, bringing her point total to 21 points at that point.
St. Francis closed out the 26-point win with Benedetti leading the way with 14 points, while Eilidh Simpson added 12. Benedetti also brought down a game-high eight boards, while Bradford corralled six for Columbia. Bradford is now just one rebound away from 500 for her career. She will look to join the 500-rebound club Saturday when the Lions host Colgate at Levien Gym in a 4 p.m. matchup.