MIDDLETOWN -- They battled until the bitter end, which was exactly what Ludlowe girls basketball coach Sarah Huntington was hoping for.

But Mercy was bigger, stronger, more athletic and has been kind of a mini-dynasty in the Class LL tournament, reaching the CIAC semifinals for the last six years following Tuesday night's 56-22 win over the Falcons.

The Tigers scored the last 14 points of the first quarter and opened a 20-point halftime lead in coasting to the victory.

"Mercy's a great team. They've got so many threats, so many weapons across the board," Huntington said. "They played great. I'm really proud of our defense and our hustle. Those are things that are a testament to this team and the seniors. They don't give up, not matter what the score is, and I'm so proud to coach them."

The victory improved Mercy to 25-1 and ran its win streak to 15 games. The Tigers will face the winner of tonight's Wilton-Stamford game in the semifinals at a site to be determined.

"It's always nice," Mercy coach Tim Kohs said. "It's like the expectation now, I think this is six in a row (in the semifinals). We've haven't won a lot of state titles but it's a heck of an accomplishment."

Ludlowe, whose season ends at 13-11, never got anything going against the Mercy defense, which allowed the Falcons just four first-half baskets and 11 points. Every shot was contested or blocked and that was if they got a shot off at all. Ludlowe was guilty of numerous turnovers, which allowed the Tigers to get into transition early and often.

"If we play defense like that, I don't care what we do on offense," Kohs said. "They had a hard time getting clean looks, they had a hard time moving the ball from point A to point B and it starts to wear in people after a while."

"Our offense ¦ it's hard to compete against Mercy when your offense isn't falling," Huntington said. "They're just a fantastic team."

Leading 31-11 at halftime, Mercy raced out of the gates to open the third quarter, scoring the first eight points to push the margin to 28. From there, the Tigers put it on cruise control, holding the Falcons to their lowest point total of the season.

Caroline Pangallo led Ludlowe with eight points. Maura Fitzpatrick paced Mercy with 14.

"There's only so much you can do against talent like that. That's why I loved our fight and determination. We battled to the bitter end," Huntington said. "I think Mercy came out and had a lot to prove. They have great talent. We're not quite as athletic as they are but we always give total effort. This is the farthest we've ever gotten as a program. With the ups and downs we've had this season, injuries, flu, accidents, to withstand all the adversity is a testament to the girls."

And to honor her seniors, Huntington left them in at the end, playing the last two minutes despite the lopsided score.

"That was really important to me," Huntington said. "These kids have given me so much over the years, and I wanted the younger kids to see that. I put these seniors on a pedestal for a reason. They've worked so hard for so long, they've transformed this program."

LUDLOWE (13-11)

Regan Steed 1 0-0 2, Alex McKinnon 2 1-4 5, Caroline Yates 0 1-2 1, Charlotte Blatt 0 1-2 1, Trish Auary 0 0-0 0, Meghan Curran 0 0-0 0, Julia Pangallo 1 2-2 5, Peyton Brown 0 0-0 0, Caroline Pangallo 3 0-0 8. Totals: 7 5-10 22.

MERCY (25-1)

Kendra Landy 2 1-3 5, Maura Fitzpatrick 6 1-1 14, Destine Perry 4 1-2 9, Haley Vanty 2 3-4 8 Sarah Gallo 1 2-2 4, Bella Santoro 3 0-1 6, Sofia Giansiracusa 1 0-0 2, Keri Kernisan 0 0-0 0, Sam Cappas 0 0-0 0, Jolie Erlacher0 0-1 0, Samantha Gallo 2 2-2 6, Meghan DeVille 1 0-2 2. Totals: 22 10-18 56.

LUDLOWE 4 7 6 5--22

MERCY 19 12 15 10--56

3-pointers: L--Caroline Pangallo 2, Julia Pangallo. M--Vanty, Fitzpatrick. Fouled out: L--Charlotte Blatt.