Saturday, March 20, 2004

Victory sends Wilmington to title game

Quakers top Rochester 74-63

By Alan Keck
Enquirer contributor

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - It's not their official game strategy, but it's become Wilmington College's trademark this season: Start cold, finish hot.

They wound up on fire Friday.

In a dramatic fashion, the Lady Quakers came from behind to beat the University of Rochester 74-63 in the semifinals of the NCAA Division III women's basketball tournament in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Wilmington will play Bowdoin College at 2 p.m. today for the tournament championship.

"I'm not sure we don't play better when we're down at halftime," Wilmington coach Jerry Scheve said.

After trailing most of the game, sometimes by as many as 11 points, the Quakers went on a second-half run that overwhelmed the Yellowjackets, putting Wilmington in the NCAA final for the first time in school history.

With less than eight minutes to go, Tara Rausch stepped into the low post to receive a deft 20-foot pass from Samantha Hood. Rausch hit the 2-foot jumper and tied the game for the first time since the opening whistle.

A minute later, Kara Robinson hit a low post jumper to give Wilmington its first lead of the game. The Lady Quakers never trailed from that point on.

"This year we came off a rough start and just seemed to put it all together," Quakers forward Siobhan Zerilla said. "It's amazing."

Wilmington's first-half strategy was more about survival than basketball. They went six and a half minutes without a field goal, but scrappy defense held Rochester to only six points during the drought.

They began the second half seven points down, but sharp shooter Emily Cummins set the tone with a 3-pointer in the opening seconds and the Lady Quakers slowly whittled away Rochester's lead.

Wilmington sharp-shooter Emily Cummins sank four 3-pointers in the second half and finished with a game-high 21 points.

Zerilla, perhaps the scrappiest player on the court, earned a double-double, scoring 13 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Rausch had 15 points and nine rebounds. Teammate Amy Kincer added 16 points.

Erika Smith led the Yellowjackets with 20 points.

WILMINGTON (26-6) - Zerilla 4-7 5-10 13, Rausch 5-13 5-6 15, Hood 1-7 1-4 3, Cummins 7-16 2-2 21, Kincer 6-15 4-4 16, Thomas 1-1 0-0 2, Peters 0-1 0-0 0, Smith 1-1 0-0 2, Robinson 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 26-64 17-26 74.

ROCHESTER (24-5) - Graham 0-3 0-0 0, Wescott 3-8 4-6 10, Fish 5-8 0-0 10, Carrozza 3-11 2-2 9, Smith 8-22 2-2 20, Muller 0-0 0-0 0, Bango 0-0 0-0 0, Lyons 3-5 1-4 7, Damcott 1-2 1-2 3, Krebbeks 1-7 2-3 4, Higgins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 24-66 12-19 63.

Halftime: R 35, WC 28. 3-pointers: WC 5-16 (Rausch 0-1, Hood 0-4, Cummins 5-9, Kincer 0-2), R 3-15 (Graham 0-2, Carrozza 1-5, Smith 2-8). Rebounds: WC 40 (Zerilla 12), R 50 (Smith 18). Assists: WC 13 (Hood 7), R 13 (Carrozza 4).

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NCAA Tournament at a glance
It's not exactly home, but it's close for the Buckeyes
Tournament chase is all about class
Team by team in the women's field
WNIT: Scoring drought ends MU's season
Victory sends Wilmington to title game

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