For the first time since 2011, the Lions swept an Ivy weekend. Though Columbia lost both of its games last weekend, the women’s team put together a better performance this time around, finishing Dartmouth 73-63 before blowing out Harvard 89-64.
The Lions (13-8, Ivy 4-4) started the weekend with an 8-0 run against Dartmouth (7-18, Ivy 1-6), and proceeded to carry the game away. However, Dartmouth gradually settled down in the second half and attempted to come back with three consecutive field goals to start the fourth quarter, causing coach Megan Griffith to furiously call a timeout. Despite the Lions’ early domination, Griffith was not satisfied with the team’s performance and went on to say that it was “not indicative of how [the Lions] should be playing team basketball.”
“I think we got really complacent,” Griffith said. “I think we started the game exactly how we wanted to … and then I think we got … a little overly confident for whatever reason, and then the second half was really run by Dartmouth.”
Dartmouth shot an inefficient 11 of 31 from the field in the first half, but took advantage of the Light Blue’s loose defense in the second, where it elevated its shooting percentage to 45.5 percent and outscored Columbia 20-10 in the paint. At the end of the third quarter, the Big Green’s Veronica Kelly scored in consecutive possessions on sophomore forward/guard Sienna Durr, including an and-one. As a result, Griffith threw the clipboard to the ground and immediately dragged Durr aside after the quarter to remind her of her defense.
“We take a lot of pride in defense on this team,” Durr said. “[Griffith] is going to let me know when I’m not performing the way I should be.”
Senior guard Janiya Clemmons appeared too excited to even dribble the ball properly when the game started, committing two turnovers in the first three minutes. However, she gradually settled down and shot 7-9 from the field to contribute a game-high 19 points, her best showing in two months. When the team needed to focus at the start of the fourth, Clemmons stepped up to end the Big Green’s scoring run with a jumper.
However, Clemmons was down with flu-like symptoms early Saturday morning. Her absence gave the Lions a chance to try out a new combination with first-year point guard Carly Rivera and sophomore point guard Mikayla Markham in the backcourt. Although Griffith worried about the defensive weakness of playing two short guards, the Lions limited the Crimson (14-7, Ivy 5-3) to 21 points in the first half on 7-of-29 shooting, and were deadly in the offensive ends, combining to dish out a total of 13 assists. The Lions’ offense was so in the zone that it dished out 25 assists and shot 57.1 percent. Hsu also scored 31 points, the second-highest total of any Columbia women’s basketball rookie.
Before Saturday’s game, Harvard’s defense held opponents to an average of 55.3 points, but Columbia scored almost 40 points beyond that. Currently, the Light Blue ranks first in the Ivy League in offense with 71.1 points scored per game.
Hsu dominated her matchup against fellow first-year guard Lola Mullaney, who shot just 4-of-17 from the field and 2-of-11 from three. Out of the three best rookies in the league—including Penn’s Kayla Padilla, who broke the Lions’ heart last week with 8 points in overtime—Hsu is the most efficient, shooting 48.2 percent from the field and leading the Ivy League in three-point field goal percentage. So far, Hsu has out-scored both Mullaney and Padilla in their individual matchups, and the run for Rookie of the Year is approaching its peak as Ivy Play reaches the halfway point.
“Obviously when we have matchups like that, it gets me excited, but I’m excited for every game so. I just took it like it was another Ivy League game and stood out and did my thing,” Hsu said.
What makes this achievement even more impressive was the timing of Hsu’s performance: The dynamo averaged 25 points, 2.5 assists, and a total of five rebounds on the second anniversary of the devastating shooting in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where she used to play. The Parkland shooting, one of the deadliest school shootings in United States history, claimed the lives of 17 students and faculty members on Feb. 14, 2018.
“I would lie to say ‘Yeah I don’t think she was distracted.’ I’m sure she was distracted. We didn’t talk about it,” Griffith said. “But I would say this, she’s an extremely resilient young woman, and she’s figuring it out, and I’m really proud of her for that.”
Next weekend, the Lions will play away at Brown on Friday, Feb. 21 at 6 p.m., and at Yale on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. The games will be broadcast on ESPN Plus.