NCAA TOURNAMENT: #10 Dowling Stops #12 Stonehill, 57-45

Sophomore Tori Faieta led the Skyhawks with 15 points and eight rebounds in tonight's regional semifinal. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Third-seeded Dowling reaches first regional final with strong defensive effort

WALTHAM, Mass. (March 16, 2013) – Third-seeded Dowling College, ranked 10th in this week's USA TODAY Sports/Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Division II poll, held second-seeded and 12th-ranked Stonehill College under 30-percent shooting to claim a 57-45 victory in semifinal round action of the 2013 NCAA Division II Women's Basketball Tournament's East Regional, hosted by top-seeded and 3rd-ranked Bentley University, at the Dana Athletic Center tonight.

Dowling (27-3, 17-1 ECC) advances to Monday's East Regional championship for the first time in program history and will face host Bentley (30-1, 21-1 NE-10) for a trip to the Elite Eight in San Antonio, Texas, at 7 p.m. The Falcons advanced with an 86-56 thumping of fourth-seeded and 6th-ranked Holy Family University in tonight's second semifinal. Stonehill sees its season come to a close with a 24-5 record overall, including 19-3 in NE-10 play, marking its 21st NCAA Tournament bid and 23rd 20-win season in the program's 42-year history.

Dowling held the NE-10's top shooting team under 30-percent shooting in each half as Stonehill finished shooting 29.5-percent (18-for-61) from the field, including 5-for-25 (20%) from three-point range, as the Skyhawks went just 1-for-13 (7.7%) from beyond the arc in the second half and made only 4-of-8 (50%) free-throws. The Golden Lions posted a 15-8 edge in points off turnovers despite finishing with six more turnovers (18-12) than the Skyhawks and posted a 12-2 advantage in second chance points as a result of a 48-35 rebounding margin.

Senior Connie Simmons (Syosset, N.Y.) led Dowling with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field while converting 5-of-8 free-throws to go with eight rebounds. Senior Danielle Wilson (Bay Shore N.Y.) notched her second double-double of the regional with 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds with two steals. Sophomore Christine Verrelle (Abington, Pa.) contributed nine points, five rebounds and three assists, while junior Rekik Worku (Wynnewood, Pa.) chipped in eight points, four boards and three steals.

Dowling shot 39.6-percent (21-for-53) from the field, including 41.4% (12-29) in the second half to overcome a five point halftime deficit. The Golden Lions were 4-for-14 (28.6%) from three-point range and made 11-of-20 (55%) free-throws, but was 9-for-13 (69.2%) in the second half.

Junior Mary Louise Dixon added 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Sophomore Tori Faieta (Lynn, Mass./Saint Mary's) led Stonehill with 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 1-for-2 from beyond the arc, with team-high eight rebounds. Junior Mary Louise Dixon (Wellesley, Mass./Wellesley), who set a program record for points in an NCAA Tournament game on Friday, added 14 points, five rebounds and three assists. She finished the game just two points shy of becoming the 27th 1,000 point scorer in program history and two assists shy of 400 for her career. The duo were a combined 12-for-24 from the field, with the rest of the team shooting a combined 6-for-37 (16.2%).

Stonehill led the entire first half and extended its lead to a game-high eight points (30-22) as Faieta opened the second half with a three-pointer. Dowling responded with an 11-2 run to take its first lead of the contest (33-32) as Wilson made one of two at the line with 13:40 to play. After being held to just three points in the first half, Wilson scored five points during that run alone, while Simmons added a pair of layups.

Freshman Paige Marshall (Braintree, Mass./Braintree) scored a layup on Stonehill's next possession, but Dowling would hold the Skyhawks scoreless for the next four minutes. The Golden Lions scored six-straight points to take a five point lead (39-34) with a three-pointer from junior Julia Koppl (Innsbruck, Austria) with 9:37 on the clock.

Stonehill closed back within a point (39-38) with 8:53 remaining on a jumper from Faieta, who missed a free-throw for a three-point play, and layup by Dixon. Dowling wouldn't let the lead slip further and held the Skyhawks scoreless for another four minute stretch, while scoring ten straight points to open a double-digit lead (49-38) with another Williams free-throw with 4:02 left. Verrelle sparked the run with a three-pointer, but the Golden Lions last five points of the run came at the free-throw line.

Dixon converted a three-point play at the other end to close the gap to eight (49-41) with 3:56 to go, but that would be as close as Stonehill would get the rest of the way. Dowling scored six-straight to push its lead to a game-high 14 (55-41) to seal the victory.

Stonehill's largest lead in a first half in which it never trailed was just five points, which came twice in the final two minutes. Faieta had eight points and all eight of her rebounds in the frame and Dixon gave the Skyhawks their first five point lead (25-20) with a three-pointer with 3:03 left. Faieta scored a layup with 1:11 remaining to cap the first half scoring (27-22).

The loss is just Stonehill's sixth in 54 games all-time against East Coast Conference members, as well as Dowling's first win in four tries against the Skyhawks, snapping a string of 22-straight Stonehill wins against ECC members dating back to 1997.

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Highlights by Pack Network
Stonehill Postgame Media Session