BOLTON -- After a little more than four minutes into the second half Friday night, Notre Dame-Fairfield had cut its halftime deficit in half. The Lancers trailed their Class S girls basketball tournament second-round game by five points and they were wresting the momentum away from their hosts.
But just as quickly as the rally had begun to take hold, it disappeared into Bolton's hands again. The fourth-seeded Bulldogs never encountered another legitimate run by Notre Dame and cruised into the quarterfinals with a 51-24 victory that ended the 20th-seeded Lancers' season at 10-12.
Bolton, the NCCC runner-up, will bring their 19-5 record into the next round against No. 5 St. Bernard (17-4), which beat No. 12 Housatonic Regional 50-24, on Thursday in Bolton.
The Bulldogs owned a 20-10 lead at halftime after trailing by 6-2 and 7-4 in the opening stages of the first quarter. Notre Dame, the Class M runner-up in 2013, outscored Bolton by 9-2 -- after giving up the first basket of the third quarter -- with their best offensive stretch of the game at the start of the second half, making it 24-19. Bulldogs coach Wayne Hapgood reacted by sending Bolton back to its customary man-to-man defense.
The game turned on his decision, and the Bulldogs' comfort and expertise in reverting to their signature defensive alignment. Notre Dame's offense struggled the rest of the way. The Lancers scored five more points before the final horn.
"We talked to the kids at halftime," said Hapgood, whose team last played in the conference final loss to Avon on Feb. 27. "I said, `They're going to make a run at us,' so I said, `You are going to have to respond.' We were in a 3-2 zone when they started their run. We switched up to the man, and that frustrated them."
Marissa Guadauskas, an all-conference and All-NCCC tournament shooting guard, scored a game-high 22 points, fueled by making four 3-pointers, three in her 17-point second half. Crystal Zimmerman scored nine points and Sarah Marshall, all off offensive rebounds and layups, and point guard Jessica Larsh each scored eight. Briana Mann paced the Lancers with 11 points and Kayla Croswell added 10.
"I felt really good when we cut the lead to five," Notre Dame coach Eric DeMarco said. "Once their lead got back up to double digits, we had to press, but they did a pretty good job of keeping their shooters spread and knocking (their shots) down. They got back up by 15 (points) pretty quickly.
"When we went to our press, they made us pay. They blew the game out," said DeMarco, who pointed to the Bulldogs fighting through Notre Dame's screens as strengthening the Bolton defensive effort in the second half.
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Class S second round
NOTRE DAME (10-12)
Kayla Croswell 4 2-4 10 Precious Montgomery 0 1-2 1 Briana Mann 4 2-2 11 Raina Ceryak 1 0-0 2 Alexandra Danas 0 0-0 0 Kim Rodriguez 0 0-0 0 Whitney Fulton 0 0-0 0 Dayniera Artis 0 0-0 0 Nakia Mabin 0 0-0 0 Yasmine Walker 0 0-0 0 Eliana Otero 0 0-0 0. Totals: 9 5-8 24. Read Full Article
Jessica Larsh 3 1-2 8 Casey Westerman 1 0-0 2 Molly Belekewicz 1 0-0 2 Marissa Guadauskas 8 2-2 22 Crystal Zimmerman 4 1-2 9 Sarah Marshall 4 0-0 8 Elena Harvey 0 0-0 0 Taylor Marshall 0 0-0 0 Rose Zimmeran 0 0-0 0 Jenna Ethridge 0 0-0 0 Nina Langton 0 0-0 0 Jordan D'Amico 0 0-0 0 Brittany Fuller 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 4-6 51.
NOTRE DAME-FAIRFIELD 8 2 10 4--24
BOLTON 9 11 17 14--51
3-pointers: ND--Mann; B--Guadauskas 4, Larsh