After a full-court press led to a turnover and a 3-point play to give the Fairfield Ludlowe girls basketball team a lead by a basket midway through the third quarter, it looked as though the Falcons may have found some momentum against visiting Trumbull.
No such luck for the Falcons.
The Eagles shook off that sequence and scored the next 14 points en route to a 53-41 win, handing the Falcons their first loss Monday night in a battle of FCIAC foes. Ludlowe fell to 6-1 and Trumbull improved to 6-1.
"Tonight just wasn't quite our night," Ludlowe coach Sarah Huntington said.
The game was even at 27-27 at halftime and continued to go back and forth early in the third quarter. Trumbull's Amanda Pfohl hit one of her five shots from 3-point range -- she finished with a game-high 21 points -- to open the second-half scoring. Ludlowe's Caroline Pangallo, who led the Falcons with 18, answered with one of her four shots from behind the arc to tie the score.
After a Trumbull free throw, the Falcons went up by two points (33-31) on that 3-point play. A pressing defense during the inbounds play forced the Eagles into a timeout. Ludlowe's Pauline Blatt stole the ensuing inbounds pass and set up Caroline Yates for a 3-point play the old fashioned way (basket and foul shot).
Then Trumbull turned up its defense and forced Ludlowe into several turnovers the rest of the way. The Eagles pounded the ball inside for easy baskets or trips to the free throw line. Trumbull got to the foul line 13 times in the fourth quarter and, although the visitors struggled from the charity stripe -- going 9 of 21 -- they repeatedly got to loose balls off misses. That was a problem for the Falcons, as Trumbull handily out-rebounded its opponents despite not having a size advantage.
"Rebounding really did kill us," Huntington said. "Trumbull's athletic, so they would reach over us or jump over us."
"It was a great road win for our girls," said Trumbull coach Steve Tobitsch, adding that defensive intensity in the second half was key to his team pulling away. "We had to slow 'em down."
The Ludlowe coach noted that the Eagles were poised with the ball and her team was too stagnant, particularly in the second half. "Trumbull was super-disciplined on offense. That's one of the things I'm taking from tonight," Huntington said. "We struggled on offense."
Pangallo said shooting woes and turnovers piled up and caused the Falcons to get frazzled on offense. "We just have to refocus and not let this game get to our heads," Pangallo said.
Huntington said she did find some positives, including the noticeable court sense improvement of sophomores Regan Steed and Alex McKinnon, the latter of whom had six points. Senior Pauline Blatt scored seven for the Falcons. Ludlowe was 11-for-12 from the free throw line.
The Falcons have little time to think about the loss, with a date against Ridgefield, the only team to beat Trumbull, set for the Tuesday night.
Andy Hutchison is a freelance reporter