Dowling cut an 18-point second-half deficit to four, but couldn't complete the comeback and saw its hopes for an unexpected run to the NCAA Division II basketball tournament dashed after a 61-53 loss to top-seeded Bridgeport Saturday in the ECC championship game in Bridgeport, Conn.
Leon Taylor had 10 points, nine rebounds and six assists and Corwin Austin 10 points and four rebounds to lead Dowling, and Josh Malone added eight points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Trailing 45-27 with 11:45 left, Austin sparked a 26-12 run with nine points as Dowling trailed 57-53 with 32 seconds left.
But Bridgeport (21-9) made four of its final six free throws to hold off the Golden Lions down the stretch.
Jo Jo Swift had 17 points and Ivan Simic and Darian David each had 11 points to lead Bridgeport.
Dowling (13-16) entered the ECC Tournament as the sixth seed and a long shot to win it, but dramatically reversed its fortunes after wins over No. 3 LIU Post and second-seeded NYIT on Thursday.