DARIEN — One year ago, the New Canaan and Darien girls basketball teams played an epic, four-overtime game that saw the Blue Wave escape with a one-point win, courtesy of the Rams’ poor foul shooting and turnovers.
Monday afternoon at Darien High School it was New Canaan that took advantage of the Wave’s miscues.
Darien (4-1 overall, 2-0 FCIAC) made just 9 of 22 free throws (40.9%) and committed 33 turnovers, helping New Canaan to a 37-29 non-conference win.
“You can’t have more turnovers than points,” Darien coach Melba Chambers said. “On any level of basketball, you can’t win that way. We cut those turnovers in half and make half of those free throws, it’s a different game.”
The victory was the second in a row for New Canaan (3-2, 1-1 FCIAC), which erased a 14-11 halftime deficit on the strength of a 17-10 edge in the third quarter.
Junior Quinn McKiernan led the Rams with nine points, while senior Jane Charlton chipped in with seven points and eight rebounds and did an admirable job on defense against Darien’s imposing center Aerin Bowman, holding the six-foot sophomore to just six points.
“It was a tough game, but I feel good for the girls — especially my seniors,” New Canaan coach John Winchester said. “This is the first time we beat Darien since I’ve been the coach. The number-one thing is that we fight to the end and the girls did it.”
The game started off as a defensive struggle as neither offense was able to find much rhythm in the first quarter.
New Canaan struck first on a jumper by McKiernan a little over two minutes into the contest. Darien countered with a put-back from Bowman (six points, six rebounds, eight blocks) and a pair of foul shots from senior Lindsay Dimonekas (12 points, 16 rebounds) to take a 4-2 lead.
Rams senior Katherine Lisecky (six points, four rebounds) drained a 3-pointer, putting New Canaan back in the lead with 20 seconds left in the first, before Bowman made one of two free throws to tie things up at 5-5 heading into the second frame.
McKiernan opened the quarter with a 3 to give New Canaan an 8-5 advantage. The Wave responded by closing out the quarter on a 9-3 run to go into the half up 14-11.
The Wave looked poised to break the game open early in the third, starting the period by outscoring New Canaan 7-3 and establishing what would be their biggest lead of the game, 21-14.
New Canaan got back in it via the 3-ball as sophomore Meghan Driscoll (six points, two rebounds) nailed a trey to make it 21-17.
McKiernan followed with another long-distance shot, cutting Darien’s lead to 21-20 with 4:23 left in the quarter. Less than a minute later, senior Riana Afshar (five points) banked in a 3 to give the Rams a 23-21 lead — one that New Canaan would not relinquish.
With New Canaan leading 28-24 at the start of the fourth, Charlton dribbled into the lane for a layup and a 30-24 Rams lead.
After Dimonekas hit one of two shots from the stripe to make it 30-25, McKiernan drained a wide-open 3 to give the Rams a 33-25 lead with 3:24 left to play.
Charlton followed with another layup, extending the Rams’ advantage to 35-25 with just over three minutes remaining.
Despite a long 3 from Darien senior Gwen Dolce (six points, five rebounds), New Canaan was able to slow things down and run out the clock in the waning minutes to secure the victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Quinn McKiernan, New Canaan. The junior sharpshooter hit some big baskets against the Wave, including the dagger that put the Rams up eight with a little more than three minutes to play.
“Your most recent win is always the signature win. It gives you momentum and positivity heading to the next game. We just have to keep building on this.” — New Canaan coach John Winchester.
“We have to understand that every play is not going to be a home run. We need to show more patience and take our time. We don’t have a shot clock, what are we rushing for? If we can get everybody on the same page and not just one person being the go-to, I think we can be a very dangerous team.” — Darien coach Melba Chambers.