The Fairfield Warde girls basketball team was still smarting from its one-point loss to rival Fairfield Ludlowe in the Todd Burger Holiday Tournament last week. And that was not good news for Darien on Tuesday evening as the visiting Mustangs overpowered the Blue Wave 51-37.
Warde (6-1, 5-0 FCIAC) remains undefeated in FCIAC competition, while the Wave (1-6, 0-5 FCIAC) is still searching for its first conference win. While it may appear based on their records that these two teams are heading in opposite directions, Tuesday night's contest was a battle to the end.
"(Darien) gave us a run for our money," said Warde captain Tiara Fountain, who notched 14 points for her team. "They are consistent, and they understand the game."
Darien was firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, and captain Emily Stein led the way. Stein, showing toughness inside combined with a velvet touch, put away 10 points in that frame and 13 points for the night.
"(Stein) is a hell of an athlete, and Darien is an athletic team," Warde coach Dave Danko said. "They are especially tough at home."
Darien posted a 15-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and maintained its dominance halfway through the second frame when the Mustangs began to hit their stride.
With Darien ahead 21-17, Warde freshman Iliana Krasnigi drained a two-pointer, igniting an 11-point run for the Mustangs. Warde took the resulting 28-21 lead into the half and never looked back.
Darien outscored Warde in the third quarter, 7-6, but it could not regain the lead.
In the final frame, the Mustangs turned on the gas as the Wave began missing shots and having trouble moving the ball around. Warde held its own on the boards and put away 17 points in that quarter to seal the deal.
"We hit those peaks and valleys, and sometimes it takes us too long to get out from when we're down," Darien coach Katie Lauten said. "Obviously, we would like to win, but we were also happy to be in it because Warde is a good team. They adjusted well to us. There really are a lot more positives than negatives to take out of this; we will focus on those."
Darien's Kelly Karczewski was the game's high scorer with 18 points, which included four three-pointers. As a team, the Wave went 5-for-13 from the foul line.
Krasnigi led the scoring for the Mustangs with 15 points, and Sarah Cotto put up 12 points, including three tres. Warde was 8-for-14 from the foul line.
"We stayed with them, we showed up and we just need to work on our confidence," Darien captain Avery Maley said. "I think we will see that in the next couple games."
"We are looking forward to a really good run soon," Karczewski said. "Hopefully we will get the momentum and stay positive."
FAIRFIELD WARDE 12 16 6 17--51
DARIEN 15 6 7 9--37