Dowling women reach NCAA Division II Final Four
Galleries2013 NCAA women's basketball tournament
SAN ANTONIO -- Dowling used an aggressive defense and efficient offense Tuesday to make its first appearance in the NCAA Women's Division II Elite Eight a winning one.
Wilson and Simmons had 14 points apiece, while Seja Gamble contributed 10. Defense made the biggest impact as Dowling (29-3) allowed only 3 of 20 three-point attempts and held Colorado Mesa (31-2) to 29.3-percent shooting.
Dowling plays Augustana (S.D.), an 81-68 winner over top-ranked and previously unbeaten Clayton State (Ga.), in Wednesday's 7 p.m. semifinals.
"We always try to take away things defensively," said Dowling coach Joe Pellicane, whose Golden Lions won their first East Regional game en route to the tournament title that got them to the Elite Eight. "We pride ourselves on defense. That reflects who we are. We didn't give many good looks and to hold a team like that to 44 points is very pleasing."
Dowling had to scratch out a 25-20 halftime lead, but the Golden Lions started pulling away in the second half. Their shots fell more consistently and the defense continued to stifle.
The only problem for Dowling came from Kelsey Sigl, who scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half. But Wilson had seven blocks and meshed with her teammates to keep the Mavericks' second chances to a minimum as Christine Verrelle (10 rebounds) and Wilson (nine rebounds) took charge of the boards.
Dowling never showed signs of letting up as the Golden Lions increased their lead to 57-42 late in the second half.
"We knew [Colorado Mesa] was a shooting team," Wilson said. "We knew we had to get on them at the three-point line as well as the inside shots. It was the preparation we had that carried us."
After starting their first Elite Eight with a victory, the Golden Lions set their sights on another first-time experience: advancing to the national title game. To make that happen, Dowling must get past Augustana (28-6), which shot 52.8 percent and hit 10 of 17 three-point shots against Clayton State.
"Augustana is a great team," Pellicane said. "If we let them shoot 52.8 percent we're going to be having an early flight. Every day is a new challenge. But we still have to play good defense and be who we are."