WESTPORT >> Heading into halftime down by seven points and held scoreless in the second quarter to Staples, Ludlowe head coach John Dailey challenged his team Monday evening.
“We weren’t great defensively the first half,” Dailey said. “I said we got to get back and in here and apply some pressure.”
The Falcons responded with an aggressive defensive effort and senior guard Mark Malone led the charge on offense as Ludlowe defeated Staples 45-39 to improve to 4-6 overall and 4-4 in the FCIAC.
The Falcons defense set the tone in the final two quarters helping to create their offense. Ludlowe got into a nice flow to start the third quarter as they battled back to tie the game. Matt Doyle drilled a 3-pointer to give the Falcons a 29-25 lead midway through, but Staples’ Benjamin Casparius answered back with his own 3-pointer to put the Wreckers within one. Ludlowe responded with a 7-0 run highlighted by a Malone 3-pointer. Malone scored seven of his 12 points in the pivotal third quarter as the Falcons went up 36-28 to start the fourth.
“He made some big shots in the second half,” Dailey said of Malone. “It’s the way we’ve been playing lately; just the no quit attitude and I’m really proud of the kids.”
Despite a cold shooting performance from the field for most of the game, the Wreckers got themselves in position to come back after David Katz made a 3-pointer with less than two minutes remaining to put Staples down by five. But Doyle was fouled on the next possession and sank two free throws to push the lead back to seven.
Doyle finished the game with nine points and teammate Hayes Kelchner added eight.
“We just lacked offensive execution in the second half, but you got to credit Ludlowe’s defense,” Staples head coach Colin Devine said. “We didn’t shoot (well) from the field, from free-throw line; however we fought to the end. We definitely had an opportunity there.”
The Wreckers were paced by Katz, who scored 14 points, six of which were in the final eight minutes.
Dailey said he thought his team did a nice job defensively on Katz as Chad Peterson and Chris Howell were assigned to him.
Nick Esposito added 11 for Staples as they fell to 3-8, 2-7.
Staples will look to regroup this week as they host Ridgefield Tuesday and then travel to New Canaan on Friday.
“I just it’s think five guys playing good basketball at the same time, at both ends of the floor,” Devine said of finding a good rhythm.