NEW YORK – First-year Abbey Hsu and sophomore Sienna Durr combined to score 51 points in leading the Columbia women’s basketball team to a lopsided victory over visiting Harvard, 89-64, Saturday evening at Levien Gymnasium.
The win moved Columbia to 13-8 overall and, more importantly, improved them to 4-4 in Ivy League play. The Lions earned their first sweep of an Ivy League weekend since 2011 (Yale-Brown) and swept the Harvard-Dartmouth weekend for the first time in program history. Harvard (14-7, 5-3 Ivy) and Yale (14-6, 5-3 Ivy) are just a game in front of Columbia for the fourth and final spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
Hsu was marvelous on her way to a career-high 31 points Saturday night. The rookie scored Columbia’s first eight points before igniting a 14-0 run that catapulted the Lions to a 24-11 lead. She had 20 at the half and went on to finish the night 11-of-15 from the floor and 6-of-9 from deep to secure her first 30-point outing. It marked the most points by a Columbia first-year since Tori Oliver scored a rookie-record 33 in 2014.
“I just loved how we shared the ball,” Hsu said in a postgame interview on SNY. “We were whipping around making the defense move and that’s Columbia basketball.”
Durr, who scored a career-high 31 herself earlier this season against Buffalo, added 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting. It marked the sophomore’s ninth career 20-point game and third of the season.
“I think our defense was 100-percent the most important thing,” said Durr, last season’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year. “Tonight, the ball was going through the hoop, especially for Hsu – it was like she couldn’t miss. It’s great when offense can get us rolling as well but defense is the main focus.”
Columbia’s defense limited Harvard to less than 35-percent shooting while the Crimson only hit 7-of-34 from 3-point range. Harvard rookie and leading scorer Lola Mullaney was limited to just 12 points after going 0-for-9 in the first half.
“We were 100-percent more disciplined,” said Griffith in her on-court postgame interview with Amy Lawrence. “From a total defensive standpoint, this is the kind of effort we need every day and every night … I think after this game they would be able to clearly tell me what they saw, how they were executing, and I’m really proud of them for responding today.”
Sophomore point guard Mikayla Markham also reached double figure scoring with a dozen points. She added four assists and four rebounds. Meanwhile, first-year point guard Carly Rivera dished out a career-high eight assists to go with five rebounds, two steals and a 3-pointer.
The Lions shot over 57 percent from the field and were nearly 45 percent from long range, tying a season-high with 13 made threes. They did a lot of damage in transition and scored 15 points on the break. Harvard, despite coming up with 21 offensive rebounds, only scored 12 second chance points to Columbia’s 11.
A 12-0 second-quarter run ballooned Columbia’s lead to 41-18. Carly Rivera connected from the top of the arc to put the home side up by 26 entering halftime.
The Lions maintained about a 30-point lead the majority of the third quarter. Durr scored 12 of Columbia’s 25 points in the period. The margin grew to as many as 34 points early in the fourth quarter.
Columbia will hope to pack up this momentum as it prepares for four straight games on the road. The swing begins next weekend when the Lions visit Brown Friday night in Providence, followed by Yale on Saturday in New Haven.
For the latest on the Columbia women’s basketball program, follow @CULionsWBB on Twitter and Instagram, on Facebook at Facebook.com/ColumbiaWBB, on the web at GoColumbiaLions.com.