akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

NEW YORK — Abbey Hsu and her Columbia Lions knew their first half in their latest “most important game in school history” outing was cause to kick things into gear the second they left the locker room and jogged back onto the court. Hsu quickly lit the fuse early in the third, the home fans kept the fire burning and, after a harrowing last few 90 seconds, the Lions have one last fire to put out to make history they have been agonizingly close to making for the past three years.

Hsu scored 22 points and pulled down 14 rebounds, helping the second-seeded Lions squeeze past No. 3 Harvard in the second semifinal game of the 2024 Ivy League Tournament held at Levien Gymnasium on Columbia’s campus. Three other players scored in double figures for the Lions, who will take on No. 1 seed Princeton in the championship game tomorrow evening looking to win its first-ever Ivy League Tournament and a maiden NCAA Tournament berth.

Despite Hsu scoring 15 of her points in the first half, Columbia found itself down 30-29 at halftime, and were down 32-29 when Hsu’s shooting and hustle sparked a 7-0 run that put the Lions ahead to stay. One possession after she hit a three to tie the game, Hsu tracked down her own errant long ball attempt before it went out of bounds and, in one motion, found teammate Cecelia Collins for a layup inside to give Columbia a 34-32. Collins’ three-point play a few seconds later capped the run.

“I thought our first half we didn’t really execute our game plan. We really
challenged our team to come out and set a tone for that third quarter and I thought that’s exactly what we did,” Columbia head coach Megan Griffith said. “We created separation and then pretty much held on to that lead the rest of the game. I am really proud of our team executing the second half.”

The Lions, who were also Ivy League co-champions with Princeton one year ago before losing in the semifinals to the Crimson, held a 61-53 lead with 54 seconds remaining before committing a couple of turnovers in the finals stages that brought Harvard to within shouting distance. Saniyah Glenn’s three with less than two seconds to go cut the lead to two, but the Lions were able to run out the clock after the inbounds pass.

Harmoni Turner led the Crimson with 21 points, as she scored or assisted on all six Harvard baskets in the first quarter as it built a 16-14 lead.

Columbia made the Ivy League Tournament final last in 2022, when it lost to the top-seeded Tigers inside Lavietes Pavilion on Harvard’s campus.

“I think we’re not at all satisfied. We are extremely hungry. We were right in this same spot two years ago. Just because we got through the first one doesn’t mean we’re going to lay down and be happy. We know there is a mission to accomplish and we are ready for it.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday’s event, with all photos taken by ALOST senior photographer Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 36 pictures in total.

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Tags : Columbia LionsHarvard CrimsonIvy LeaguePenn QuakersPrinceton Tigerswomen's college basketball

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