HFU
Mann

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Sixth-seeded Holy Family advanced to the Round of 16 after defeating second-seeded Southern Connecticut State 71-61 on Saturday.

Holy Family improves to 26-7 after winning its 13th consecutive game. The Tigers have won 19 of their last 20 contests. Southern Connecticut concludes the season with a 25-6 record.

Holy Family will be appearing in its third regional final in program history and its first since 2010. The Tigers will face the winner of the other semifinal contest between No. 1 Bentley and No. 5 Franklin Pierce on Monday.

Junior Erin Mann led Holy Family with a game-high 25 points after shooting 8-of-17 from the field, including 9-of-9 from the free-throw line. Mann scored 19 of her 25 points in the second half to pace the Tigers. She also grabbed a game-high nine rebounds and blocked three shots.

Junior Ana Cruz once again came off the bench and gave the Tigers an impressive performance as she tallied 18 points after draining three 3-pointers.  Cruz also shot 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. Sophomore Maggie Serratelli contributed nine points, while junior Molly Hanlon added six points and six rebounds. Hanlon also dished out four assists.

For Southern Connecticut, senior Alex Fiola led the Owls with a team-high 14 points after knocking down four 3-pointers. Juniors Camille Fantini and Keshia Primo each finished with 10 points. Sophomore Moni Smith-Ocran added eight points and grabbed a team-best eight rebounds. Senior Sylvonya Moore filled the stat sheet with eight points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Holy Family began the game with a 4-0 run to lead early, however Southern Connecticut followed with a 12-0 run to lead by as many as eight points after Fantini drained a 3-pointer at the 14:44 mark.

Southern Connecticut would lead the majority of the half, however Holy Family slowly began chipping away at the Owls' lead late. Cruz drained a 3-pointer at the 3:40 mark to cut the lead to 33-31. On the next Tigers' possession, Cruz converted a pair of free throws to tie the game at 33-33.

On the next trip down the court, Cruz again was sent to the free-throw line as she knocked down 1-of-2 from the line to give Holy Family its first lead of the game (34-33) since leading 4-2 earlier in the half.

Free throws played a huge factor in the game as the Tigers shot 16-of-17 from the line and finished the game converting 25-of-26. Southern Connecticut only connected on half its free throws shooting 6-of-12 for the game.

Holy Family's lead didn't last long as the Owls grabbed the advantage right back after freshman Mariah Hankton knocked down a 3-pointer to make the score 36-34 with 2:02 to play in the first half.

The Tigers though bounced back and closed out the first half with a mini 6-0 run to lead 40-36 entering the locker rooms at halftime.

In the second half, Holy Family came out firing as the Tigers used a 10-3 run to lead by double-digits for the first time in the game. A 3-pointer by Serratelli gave Holy Family a 50-39 lead at the 16:01 mark.

The lead was short lived as Southern Connecticut responded with a 15-5 run over the next nine-plus minutes. Primo capped the run after splitting a pair of free throws to pull the Owls within one point of the Tigers' lead (55-54).

That would be as close as Southern Connecticut would get as Holy Family built its lead back up to eight points as Mann scored the Tigers' next four baskets.  Her jumper at the 3:58 mark gave Holy Family a 63-55 advantage.

Holy Family would eventually increase its lead back to double-digits after junior Kelly Brady scored a layup to make the score 69-59 with :37 seconds left to play in regulation.

The Tigers shot a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch to secure the victory.

Holy Family finished the game shooting 42.0-percent from the field, while Southern Connecticut shot 32.8-percent for the game. Southern Connecticut did outshoot Holy Family from long range as the Owls drained 11 3-pointers (11-33) compared to only four by the Tigers (4-14).

The semifinal win against Southern Connecticut also marked Holy Family's first victory against the Owls in the NCAA tournament. Southern Connecticut eliminated the Tigers in the semifinals back in 2006 and 2007.