The Dowling women's basketball team celebrates its victory over NYIT...

The Dowling women's basketball team celebrates its victory over NYIT as time expires in the East Coast Conference title game. (March 10, 2013) Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

SAN ANTONIO -- The magical ride for the Dowling women's basketball team continues.

In their first trip to the NCAA Division II Women's Elite Eight, the Golden Lions will play for their first national title tomorrow night after they powered their way to a 76-54 semifinal victory over Augustana (Ga.) Wednesday at Greehey Arena.

Dowling (30-3) will play Ashland (Ohio) at 8 p.m. for the title.

The Golden Lions had several factors working for them. Danielle Wilson controlled the inside with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while the outside spark came from Connie Simmons with 24 points and Nicole Caggiano with 13.

Once again, Dowling's defense stood out. Augustana (28-7), which committed 32 turnovers in its opening win over Clayton State, took better care of the ball, but the Golden Lions haunted the Vikings in other areas, getting a 47-29 advantage on the boards, while allowing only 26.9 percent shooting.

"If we're having a good night and allow a low shooting percentage it means we're challenging shots," Dowling coach Joe Pellicane said. "That was music to my ears. We faced a great shooting team and we knew we had to defend."

The Vikings were staying within reach, but toward the end of the half, Julia Koppi nailed a three and Simmons followed suit to push Dowling in front, 39-27. Wilson drove at will, scoring 16 points in the first half.

That first-half charge was all the motivation the Golden Lions needed to add the finishing touch in the second half.

"We needed to get ahead early," Wilson said. "[Augustana] is good shooting team. We had to contest their shots at the three-point line as well as the inside."

Now, the Golden Lions turn their attention to bringing home their first national title.

"I'm so proud of this team," Simmons said. "This is what we worked for all season. We still have more to do."

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