NEW YORK (AP)Abbey Hsu has Columbia well on its way to a first-ever Ivy League championship in women’s basketball.

A junior guard from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Hsu has helped the Lions go 63-21 since joining the team in 2019, equaling the win total of the previous eight years combined. Before that, Columbia had posted just one winning season in the previous 33 years.

Hsu had a career-best 35 points in Columbia’s 75-70 win over Harvard last Friday night. A win over Dartmouth the next day gave the Lions a 21-4 record and left them tied with Princeton atop the league standings. Those wins also gave Columbia 12 road victories on the season, tied for first in the country with No. 1 South Carolina and No. 15 Villanova.

Columbia, which earned votes in the AP poll for the first time ever this season, controls its own destiny and wins over Brown on Saturday and at home against Cornell a week later will assure the Lions at least a share of their first Ivy League regular-season crown.

”That’s been a goal since I’ve walked on campus,” Hsu said of winning the Ivy title. ”I think all the years leading up to this one are necessary steps that we had to take. We had to take some losses and we had to learn from those losses.”

Columbia lost in the finals of the Ivy Tournament last year to Princeton, which went on to reach the second round of the NCAAs before falling by a point at Indiana. The Lions advanced to the quarterfinals of the WNIT and Hsu was a big reason why. She set the Ivy League record with 108 3-pointers last season. She’s currently in fourth place on the conference’s career 3-point list and could finish the season in second.

Through all the success, it hasn’t been a easy few years for Hsu, who is third on Columbia’s career scoring list. Before coming to Columbia, she was at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when the school shooting occurred five years ago.

She was in one of the buildings on the school’s campus when the tragedy occurred and heard the gunshots. The anniversary of the shooting was last week. Whenever Hsu sees there’s been a mass shooting at a school, such as the one at Michigan State last week, it brings up memories of what happened in Florida.

”It just doesn’t really make sense,” she said. ”You go through something like that and it keeps happening almost like it’s kind of scooted under the rug. I mean the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. There definitely has to be big steps in that direction regulation-wise. I don’t know the exact answer, but obviously what we’re doing is not working. There’s too many lives lost.”

Tragedy didn’t end there for Hsu. When the pandemic cut Columbia’s season short, she returned home. A short time later her father Alex, who was an internist, caught COVID-19 and became the first South Florida medical professional to die from the disease.

Hsu stayed home for a year because there was no basketball season when the Ivy League canceled sports in the 2020-21 school year. Being home gave her time to grieve and heal.

”To go through that there is no right time,” Hsu said. ”But because of COVID I was able to be home and be present with my family and had time to reflect.”

Through all the heartache, Hsu has persevered. crediting her father for her hardworking attitude.

”This is part of who she is,” Columbia coach Megan Griffith said. ”Pre tragedies, post tragedies. I think it has made her more who she is and for her to be able to embrace adversity and hardship and come out on the other end of it stronger, tougher. It’s a true testament to her character and to the character she has and that her family has bestowed upon her. She’s one of the toughest kids I ever coached.”

AP women’s college basketball: and and