Fourth-ranked Lawrence of Fairfield clamped down defensively on No. 5 Erskine Academy of South China during the second half Friday night and went on to a 48-41 victory in their Class A North girls basketball quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center on Friday evening.
Lawrence (12-7) will advance to next Wednesday’s 3:30 p.m. semifinal against the winner of Friday’s late game between No. 1 Hampden Academy (17-1) and No. 8 Nokomis of Newport (7-11).
Hampden defeated both teams in last year’s tournament, topping Erskine 44-26 in the quarterfinals and Lawrence 50-36 in the semifinals en route to winning the regional championship.
Erskine ends its season with a 12-7 record.
Erskine held a 24-20 lead when Alyssa Savage followed in her own miss with 1:03 left in the first half.
By the time the Eagles made their next field goal, it was Lawrence with the four-point lead at 31-27 with just 52 seconds left in the third quarter.
Lawrence continued its surge with six unanswered points — Savannah Wilson had a drive and an assist on a Sarah Poli basket — during the mini-spurt while building its lead to as much as 39-28 on a free throw by Weston with four minutes left in the game.
Erskine tried to sneak back in with its own defense, as two steals led bi baskets by Emily Clark and Savage that rallied the Eagles within 39-32 with three minutes remaining.
Lawrence and Erskine split two regular-season meetings, and little was different during the opening half as the teams exchanged modest runs en route to a 24-24 stalemate at intermission.
Erskine got off to the quicker start, scoring eight straight points after spotting Lawrence an elbow jumper by Sarah Poli to open the game.
The Eagles maintained an 11-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, but Lawrence used six unanswered points to forge a 16-16 tie on a post-up move by Savannah Weston midway through the period.
Nine of Erskine’s final 12 points in the half came on 3-pointers by Alyssa Savage, Sarah Praul and MacKenzie Roderick, but Lawrence kept pace at the free-throw line where Delenyi Carr went 4-of-4 from the line while the Bulldogs as a team made 6 of 7 during the final two minutes of the half.
Carr had a team-high seven points for Lawrence at the break while Savage had seven for Erskine Academy.