The setting seemed perfect. Top-seeded Adelphi was hosting the women's NCAA Division II East Regional and the Panthers had won all 19 games at home this season, including a victory over Holy Family, its eighth-seeded opponent from northeast Philadelphia.
No bottom seed had ever toppled the No. 1 team in this regional.
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Until Friday night.
Despite 25 points apiece from Adelphi stars Kelly Mannix and Anh-Dao Tran, Holy Family upset the Panthers, 84-79, to end Adelphi's dream season at 28-4. Holy Family (21-10) moves on to Saturday's semifinal against Stonehill. Franklin Pierce meets New Haven in the other semifinal. The title game is Monday.
"I'm definitely shocked. We didn't think we'd be in this position today,'' Mannix said. "We were expecting to play more basketball. Holy Family is a great team. They came in, they had a game plan against us and they played their butts off."
Holy Family took a 41-33 halftime lead, achieved by shooting 66.7 percent from the floor. The lead would have been bigger had Mannix not tossed in two three-pointers in the last 36 seconds.
Mannix opened the second half with another three, but Holy Family went on a 15-4 run to take a 56-40 lead with 13:59 left.
Adelphi crept back, but as coach Heather Jacobs said: "I think it took us a little too long to get going. We were a little passive early. Defensively, we needed to do a better job."
Adelphi twice cut the lead to one point, the last time with 2:02 left when Mannix hit her fifth and final three-pointer. Adelphi sent Holy Family to the line in hopes of regaining possession, but the visitors made 18 of 20 free throws in the final eight minutes and shot 25-for-30 in the game. Jill Conroy had 23 points and Holy Family teammate Erin Fenningham added 21.
"It feels great," Conroy said. "There's no better feeling than beating a team, a top seed, on their home floor. You just play your heart out and it paid off.''
Jacobs summed up Adelphi's reaction, saying: "It's a lot of emotion, a lot of raw emotion from myself to I think our players . . . We were anticipating, hoping, working to have more moments and more games, and unfortunately these opportunities will be going to somebody else."