TRUMBULL -- You know that a play you're running is effective if the other team knows it's coming and still can't stop it.
Heading into Tuesday night's game, Norwalk knew all too well St. Joseph loved to get quick, easy points on long outlet passes from Erick Langston to Jake Pelletier. Problem for the Bears was the Cadets seem to have the play mastered.
St. Joseph used it -- and an all-around dominant first-quarter performance -- to race out to a quick 19-point lead, never looking back in a 90-65 victory at the Vito Montelli Court.
"I don't think they expected Erick to have as good an arm," said Pelletier, who finished with a game-high 26 points. "He throws bullets. He gets it there in two seconds."
The first quarter put together by the Cadets(14-1, 12-1 FCIAC) was as impressive an eight-minute stretch as any team's seen this season as they delivered the knockout blow before the Bears could get their sea legs. St. Joseph forced turnovers on the first three possessions, including a steal and a quick outlet pass to Pelletier, to open the game's scoring. When the first-quarter flurry was over, the Cadets had forced eight turnovers, shot 4-for-5 from 3-point range and led 30-11 -- punctuated on a dunk by Quincy McKnight in the closing seconds.
"When we run, when we get out on the break, we're the fastest team in the league," Pelletier said. "When we can run, we're deadly."
St. Joseph didn't slow down with McKnight finishing an alley-oop from Pelletier for the first points of the second quarter. McKnight ended up with 21 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Jonathan Dzurenda finished with a quiet 24 points.
The key man, again, was under-sized 6-foot-2 center-by-default Langston. He only scored three points, but added 12 rebounds and six assists.
"He's like our backbone," St. Joseph coach Chris Watts said. "There's times you see he's down by himself rebounding and everybody else is flying. You have to give him credit. That's like a 30-point game for us."
Norwalk (11-5, 9-5) coach Tom Keyes said his team knew St. Joseph would break long on missed baskets, yet didn't react well once the game started.
"We recognized before we stepped on the court that was what they were going to do," Keyes said. "Apparently as coaches we didn't do a good enough job telling them about it. I can't possibly imagine how we could stress it more in the practices leading up to it, but I guess we have find a way to do it more."
Nick Boccanfuso led the Bears with 16 points. Roy Kane had 14.
Norwalk almost clawed its way back into it midway through the third quarter, putting together a 9-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Jabari Dear, which made it 62-48. On the next trip down McKnight found Dzurenda open in the corner for a 3-pointer -- one of 10 made by the Cadets on only 17 shots -- to nullify Norwalk's would-be comeback attempt.
"Hats off to them for coming out enthusiastic about basketball," Keyes said.
Kane, Norwalk's second-leading scorer at 18 pointers per game, didn't start and entered the game midway through the first quarter. Keyes deemed it a disciplinary action.
NORWALK (11-5, 9-5 FCIAC)
Sean Butler 1 0-0 2 Saeed Soulemane 2 3-6 7 Roy Kane 4 6-8 14 Jabari Dear 5 1-2 12 Nick Boccanfuso 5 6-9 16 Jeremy Linton 2 3-4 8 Luke Sweeney 0 0-0 0 Zaire Wilson 2 0-0 4 JoJo Pulliam 1 0-0 2 Totals: 22 19-29 65
ST. JOSEPH (14-1, 12-1)
Tyshon Williams 0 1-2 1 Jake Pelletier 8 6-6 26 Jonathan Dzurenda 9 2-2 23 Quincy McKnight 7 6-9 22 Denzel Moscova 0 0-0 0 Kahlil Smith 0 0-0 0 Judenick Florian 0 0-0 0 Raekwon Reid 3 0-2 7 Erick Langston 1 1-2 3 Mike Sulik 1 0-0 2 Rich Kelly 0 0-0 0 Steve Hashemi 2 0-0 4 Charles Fisher 1 0-0 2 Totals: 32 16-22 90
NORWALK 11 19 24 11--65
ST. JOSEPH 30 19 20 21--90
3-pointers: N--Dear, Linton; SJ--Pelletier 4, Dzurenda 3, McKnight 2, Red 1