The women’s basketball team broke down defensively against Bryant on Saturday and lost 68-54 on the road.
The Lions entered the second half tied at 22, but the Bulldogs went on a 23-9 run to clinch the victory.
The Light Blue jumped ahead in the second half with co-captain senior guard Tyler Simpson making a layup and assisting freshman forward Bailey Ott’s shot in the first three minutes. But Bryant star forward Naana Ankoma-Mensa replied with three consecutive layups before Columbia called a timeout down 30-28.
Lions head coach Paul Nixon said Columbia’s failure to build a strong lead in the first half was a significant factor in the loss, as Bryant’s second-half run should not have affected the scoreboard outcome.
He added that Columbia’s inability to stop the Black and Gold’s biggest offensive weapons didn’t help.
Ankoma-Mensa had 17 points and 17 rebounds in her third double-double this season, and guard Courtney Schissler scored 16 and nabbed seven rebounds. Bryant dominated on the boards, out-rebounding the Light Blue 47-26, including 32 on defense.
Additionally, Nixon said those numbers don’t reflect the high number of deadball rebounds the Light Blue didn’t grab.
The Lions stayed tough until Bryant began to break away with 8:33 left. The Bulldogs’ starting center, Maureen Leahy, pulled down an offensive rebound for a second-chance basket to put the Bulldogs up 47-45. The Bulldogs took the game from that point onward with a 17-9 run.
Despite the lack of defensive stops, the Light Blue saw productive minutes from its bench. Junior center Nicole Santucci posted four points and two rebounds in just seven minutes, including a layup that tied the score at 45 with nine minutes left in the game.
She later narrowed the margin to four baskets after scoring with an assist from junior guard Taylor Ward.
Ward also scored nine points and made four steals while junior forward Courtney Bradford pulled down eight rebounds, including six on defense. Sophomore guard Caitlyn Unsworth posted a career high of 16 points that included four from beyond the arc.