Wilson's putback sends Dowling past Bentley, to first NCAA quarterfinal
WALTHAM, Mass. -- Danielle Wilson's put-back with three seconds left on the clock sealed the Golden Lions' first trip to the national quarterfinals with a 53-51 victory against Bentley. With the win, the Golden Lions improved to 28-3 on the season and Bentley ended its season at 30-2.
The Golden Lions grabbed a 7-0 lead in the opening minutes of the first half, shutting the Falcons out of their first six possessions. A field goal by Wilson at the 15:38 mark put Dowling up 11-3. Six consecutive Falcon points brought the score to 13-10, but 11 unanswered from the Golden Lions during the next four minutes of play put DC up 24-10.
Wilson gave the Golden Lions their largest lead of the half 28-11 with six minutes remaining in the half. The Falcons began to chip away at the Dowling lead with back to back 3-pointers capping an 8-0 run to close the gap to single digits, 28-19 with just under four minutes on the clock. Bentley's Caleigh Crowell hit back-to-back threes down the stretch, but the Golden Lions took a 35-25 lead into the break.
Wilson led all scorers in the first half with 13 points for the Golden Lions. Simmons finished in double digits with 10. Dowling's top-ranked defense went to work in the first half, causing nine Bentley turnovers and blocking six shots.
After Simmons opened the half with a bucket from beyond the arc, the Falcons scored the next nine reaching within six 40-34 with 16 minutes left in the game. The Falcons took advantage of Dowling shooting just 28 percent from the field and a deep three from Courtney Finn tied the game at 42 with 13 minutes left.
The Falcons took their first lead of the evening with a lay up from Finn at the 11:42, but Wilson tied it back up at 44. The Falcons grabbed the lead once again at the 9:49 mark, but Wilson answered right back tying the game at 48.
After two Bentley free throws put the Falcons back on top, Christine Verrelle hit from 3-point range putting Dowling ahead for the first time in six minutes 51-50. After a seven minute scoring drought by both sides, Bentley's Lauren Battista made one of two free throws to tie the game at 51 with 35 seconds on the clock. Down to their last possession, the Golden Lions worked a shot for Simmons that bounced off the rim into the hands of Wilson, who put it right back in for the game winner with just three seconds left on the clock, sending Dowling to the quarterfinals for the first time in program history.
Wilson finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds, with Simmons adding 13 points and 11 rebounds.
This is the first time in the history of the tournament that a team from the East Coast Conference has advanced to the quarterfinals.