FAIRFIELD -- After Notre Dame-Fairfield found itself down by four points at the half, coach Eric DeMarco told his team to stop forcing shots and just let things happen.
The second-seeded Lancers did just that in the second half en route to a 50-44 win in the Class M quarterfinals Saturday. With the win, the Lancers advance to the semifinals on Monday where they will face Haddam-Killingworth at a site and time to be announced.
Senior Jovan Kingwood, who led the Lancers with 21 points, was thrilled with the win.
"It feels awesome to move on," she said. "At the beginning of the season we knew we could do it but we knew it was going to take a lot of work. It feels great to be here."
After the slow first half Notre Dame-Fairfield got rolling in the third quarter when Kingwood scored the first six points on a pair of 3-pointers. Later in the quarter Alexandra Danas hit a pair of 3s of her own, the second of which gave the Lancers their first lead since early in the game.
Perhaps the play of the game came at the end of the quarter when Amber James, who finished with 17 points, threw up a shot from halfcourt that found the bottom of the net to put the Lancers up 34-32 after three.
"We had some timely threes down the stretch," DeMarco said. "Jovan hit the big ones early and Alex hit some huge ones, too."
"Amber's shot was big for us," Kingwood said. "We (Kingwood and James) knew we had to bring our A game and not take any game lightly. We did what we had to do today."
James was clutch in the fourth quarter. With the Lancers up just 42-41 with just 2:30 left, she drove to the hoop, made a layup and got fouled in the process. After sinking the free throw to put Notre Dame up four, the Lancers never looked back as they made their free throws down the stretch to close out the win.
"I don't want to say we are used to close games," DeMarco said. "But everybody who has played us close all year has prepared us for that."
As for Monday's matchup, DeMarco said, "They (Haddam-Killingworth) are well coached. They will be prepared. It's going to be a tough game."
Class M quarterfinals
Meghan Autencio 2 3-4 8 Jaime Hill 6 1-2 17 Cassidy Bundy 6 5-7 17 Taylor Lavaille 1 0-0 2 Catherin Matzul 0 0-0 0 Rachael Orbe 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 9-13 44.
Amber James 5 6-8 17 Alexandra Danas 3 0-0 9 Jerlissa Thomas 0 0-0 0 Jovan Kingwood 7 3-4 21 Aly Furgiuele 0 2-3 2 Brianna Mann 0 1-2 1 McKenzie Stone 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15 12-17 50.
MONTVILLE 9 13 10 12--44
ND-FAIRFIELD 9 9 16 16--50
3-pointers: M--Hill 4, Autencio; NDF--Kingwood 4, Danas 3, James.