WESTPORT — After Fairfield Ludlowe’s win over Staples tonight, no one was talking about a game of two halves or four quarters.
More accurately it was six scoring runs.
The Falcons’ had the last and ultimately most consequential, scoring 11 unanswered points late in the fourth quarter and holding on for a wild 59-52 road win.
That immediately followed an 11-0 run by the Wreckers, who at one point trailed by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, to tie the game.
“That was crazy, back and forth, but we expected that coming here,” said Ludlowe point guard James Bourque, who proved the steadying influence. “They are a really good team, a well-coached team. We turned it up the last minute and a half but it got interesting. That’s what the FCIAC is all about.”
The Falcons (10-2, 6-2) won for the sixth time in seven games and are one of four conference teams with just two losses.
“We wanted to get out and run again, we wanted to defend, we wanted to limit them to one shot,” Ludlowe coach John Dailey said. “I’m proud of the kids because we were down 12-4 early and that’s a bit of a hole. I didn’t call a timeout and we settled right in, got the lead back and then we finally made some foul shots.”
The Falcons, who have had their problems at the line, converted 14 of 15 attempts, seven of eight in the fourth quarter.
“We made free throws,” Bourque said. “We’ve been struggling with our free throws. We haven’t been in that many close games. We hit shots, calmed down, ran our offense and kept the ball in our possession.”
Rowan Keesser scored 20 points to lead Ludlowe. Bourque added 12 and Ian Bentley finished with 11.
“I thought James Bourque was great tonight,” Dailey said. “He sort of took over the game. That’s the James that I know.”
Staples’ defensive pressure forced six turnovers in the final quarter to fuel its comeback. A steal and layup by Jake Thaw evened the score at 43-43 with 4:32 remaining.
Patrick Kilbride responded on the ensuing possession with one of his two 3-pointers for a lead Ludlowe would not relinquish. Bourque hit back to back baskets and soon the advantage was up to 54-43 with 1:56 left.
The Wreckers (10-3, 6-3) still would not go quietly. Lucas Basich, who had scored 37 points three nights earlier against Brien McMahon, had been held to six points by the Falcons’ attentive defense. Basich hit three straight 3-pointers, the last from in front of his bench, to rally Staples within 55-52 with 49 seconds left.
“I knew sooner or later Basich would catch fire it was just at the wrong time, at the end,” Dailey said. “We did for the most part such a great job on him. He’s been shooting it lights out. We just wanted to make it difficult for him tonight.”
Teddy Dienst made four 3-pointers and led a balanced Staples attack with 16 points. Basich finished with 15 and Thaw had 14.
“I thought we had a lot of fight in the fourth quarter but we didn’t play complete basketball,” Staples coach Colin Devine said. “Against a playoff team that’s well-coached like Ludlowe you have to put a complete game together at both ends of the floor. We didn’t do that. We had a hell of a comeback. We came up short but I think that happened with us not finishing plays like we need to.”
Ludlowe had unanswered runs of 12 and nine points earlier in the game. The Wreckers had a 6-0 run early and scored seven straight earlier in the third quarter to start the rally from the 14-point deficit.
Ludlowe plays at town rival Fairfield Warde (10-2) on Monday. Both teams will enter with their best records in the series in some time. The Falcons won their first meeting last month.
“It’s going to be such a battle,” Bourque said. “We played them early in the year but they have gotten so much better.”