Sports | Women's Basketball

Women's basketball earns first win of season

It was no lazy Sunday afternoon for the women’s basketball team (1-3), which notched its first victory of the season against Fairleigh Dickinson, 54-47. The Knights (0-4) were always close contenders on the scoreboard, but Columbia took control of the game in the second half, bringing the crowd to its feet and leaving the Lions chest-bumping at the end of the game. The first half was full of energy, but the Lions’ focus wasn’t completely there. In the first 10 minutes, the Light Blue struggled to spread the floor and get good looks against a tight man-to-man and frequently had to rush on offense. “We weren’t necessarily trying to run down the shot clock. We were just going to make sure we’d work for the best possible shot,” head coach Paul Nixon said. “In the first half, sometimes we were running down and we weren’t getting good shots. I mean, we ended up throwing up some really ugly shots, actually.” Columbia eked out a lead 21-19 after 20 minutes of rapid transitions and several turnovers from both squads, and it was unclear whether the Lions could maintain their verve and convert it into a win. They did. Leading the pack was freshman forward Bailey Ott, who posted 20 points and eight rebounds. The Knights pulled ahead 40-36 with seven minutes left in the game, but Ott knocked down a jumper to cut into their lead. Knights guard Amanda Andrades tried to reply with a three-pointer but missed, and seconds later Ott grabbed an offensive rebound and put up two points. “I think when they got off to a run a little bit at the beginning, we all knew this had to stop and that was only going to come if our energy went through the roof,” Ott said. The Lions set the pace from then on, dominating with steals, fast breaks, quick jumpers, and an overall transition game that left the Knights looking like joggers beside the Light Blue. The offense was only half the fight, though. Nixon said that strong defense was the real key to Sunday’s victory. “To be able to come out and actually have them be up by eight, and come back and really sort of slow ‘em down offensively from that point on was really, really the critical factor, and I think we did a good job of limiting their second chance opportunities,” Nixon said. “We cut off a lot of their penetration that had been very effective for them earlier in the game.” The numbers reflected the Lions’ good defense inside. They out-rebounded the Knights 45-42, forced 22 turnovers, and made three steals in the last four minutes, causing the crowd to erupt into cheers. Ott proved clutch, preventing Fairleigh Dickinson’s lead scorer, sophomore forward Erika Livermore, from scoring while guarding her. “I just knew, ‘Try not to let her shoot and try to keep her off her left hand,’” Ott said. “It was definitely a challenge, but I did the best I could, and it was fun playing her.” After the Lions’ first win, Ott described the energy surrounding the team. “This is the best feeling. I think we all knew it was coming, and it’s the most rewarding feeling,” she said. “I think everyone is just so hyped up for the next game, and we all wish it was the next day.” sports@columbiaspectator.com

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