NEW YORK – Columbia begins its 32nd season of NCAA Div. I women's basketball Friday afternoon at Providence. Two days later, the Lions host Richmond for the home opener at Levien Gymnasium. Friday's game is available for viewing on Friars All-Access. Sunday's home opener will be broadcast on the Ivy League Network.
Senior Camille Zimmerman is 40 points from breaking Columbia Hall of Famer Ula Lysniak's all-time career scoring record of 1,447 points from 1983-87. Zimmerman enters the season with 1,408 career points, ranking No. 2 on the list. Last season, Zimmerman broke the program's single-season scoring marks for both total points and points per game, finishing the year with 608 points and 22.5 points per game.
The Lions welcome four new faces to the roster in Riley Casey, Andrea McCormick, Madison Pack and Imani Whittington. The newcomers represent head coach Megan Griffith's first recrutiing class after taking over in the spring of 2016. Casey and McCormick are both 5-8 guards, Whittington is a 5-11 swingman and Pack is a 6-3 post player. Pack and senior Jillian Borreson are Columbia's tallest players.
Columbia defeated both Providence and Richmond last season. The Lions defeated the Friars in overtime, 66-64, at Levien Gymnasium to earn their first victory over a Big East opponent. Megan Griffith earned her first head coaching victory down in Richmond in a 65-58 Columbia win.
The Lions are 13-18 in season openers since their first year of NCAA Div. I women's basketball in 1986-87. Across that same time period, they are 14-17 in home openers.
ZIMMERMAN NAMED TO KATRINA MCCLAIN WATCH LIST
Senior Camille Zimmerman was named to the 2018 Katrina McClain Award watch list on Thursday, recognizing the top power forward in all of women's college basketball. The award is presented by the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women's Basketball Coaches Association. Zimmerman is one of 20 players nationwide to land on the 2018 Katrina McClain Award watch list. The selection committee for the Katrina McClain Award is composed of top women’s college basketball personnel including media members, head coaches, sports information directors and Hall of Famers. By mid-February, the watch list of 20 players for the 2018 Katrina McClain Award will be narrowed to just 10. In March, five finalists will be presented to Ms. McClain-Pittman and the Hall of Fame’s selection committee.
Columbia will face five NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago. Three of those games come at the Cancun Challenge (Nov. 23-25), where Columbia will meet up with Green Bay, Arizona State and defending national runner-up Mississippi State. A trip to 2017 MEAC winner Hampton (Jan. 3) represents the fourth NCAA Tournament team. The Lions will also go up against Ivy League winner Penn twice during the conference season (Jan. 13, Feb. 16).
HEADING TO CANCUN
Columbia will participate in the 2017 Cancun Challenge, Nov. 23-25, at the all-inclusive Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. The 13th edition of the women’s event includes 10 teams split up into two divisions. The Mayan Division consists of Columbia, Arizona State, Green Bay and Mississippi State, which broke UConn’s 111-game winning streak in March at the Final Four. The Riviera Division includes Indiana State, Marquette, Montana, Oklahoma State, South Dakota and Tennessee. Six of the teams (Arizona State, Green Bay, Marquette, Mississippi State, South Dakota, Tennessee) had 20 or more victories in the 2016-17 season.
CHASING DOWN LYSNIAK
Senior Camille Zimmerman enters the season 40 points from breaking Columbia Hall of Famer Ula Lysniak's all-time career scoring record of 1,437 points (1983-87). Zimmerman currently ranks No. 2 on the scoring list with 1,408 points. Last season, she broke Columbia's single-season marks in total points (608) and points per game (22.5), which were records that had stood since the 1980s. Should Zimmerman repeat her scoring performance from last season, she would eclipse 2,000 points.
COMING OFF A RECORD SEASON
Senior Camille Zimmerman has scored 608 points and averaged 22.5 points per game last season to break the program's single-season scoring marks. The previous record belonged to Hall of Famer Ellen Bossert, who scored 598 points during the 1985-86 season, which was Columbia's final year competing at the NCAA Div. III level. Bossert, who was inducted into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008, averaged 22.1 points per game during her record-setting season.
Zimmerman broke Columbia's Div. I single-season scoring record on Feb. 24 at Princeton. The previous mark was held by Hall of Famer Judie Lomax '10BC, who scored 521 points during the 2009-10 campaign. Zimmerman scored her 522nd point with a basket at the 1:35 mark of the first quarter, finishing the night with a game-high 27 points.
Providence (0-0) is coming off a 12-18 campaign in which it went 4-14 in the Big East. The Friars return six letterwinners to the team this season, and all six have experience in the starting line-up. Jovana Nogic is Providence’s leading returning scorer, having averaged 14.5 points per game. She earned All-BIG EAST Honorable Mention recognition at season’s end. Heading into the 2017-18 campaign, she was named to the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team and also has been named to the Ann Meyers Drysdale Award Watch List. She shot the three-ball at a 41.9-percent clip (91-217) last year and also knocked down 91.7-percent of her free throw attempts (33-36). Maddie Jolin averaged 9.6 points and 1.9 assists per game, followed by Allegra Botteghi’s 8.8 points and team-best 6.0 rebounds per game. Jolin was second on the team in three-point field goals, with 47. Clara Che is another player to watch in a potent junior class. She averaged 7.3 points, 3.1 assists and finished third among her teammates in three-point field goals (44).
Richmond (0-0) is coming off a 13-17 season in which it went 7-9 in Atlantic 10 play. Senior Micaela Parson is the team's top returning scorer, averaging 11.2 points per game last season. Parson is also Richmond's top returner in rebounds (5.4) and field goal percentage (.402). Senior Kylie Murphree is the team's top returner in assists (4.3), 3-point field goal percentage (.324), total steals (49) and minutes played (28.9). Overall, the Spiders return eight letterwinners from 2016-17 and three of their five starters. The Spiders pride themselves on defense, ranking among the best in the nation last season in scoring defense (58.7) and 3-point field goal defense (28.8 pct.).