For the Fairfield Ludlowe boys basketball team the moral victories have gotten old.

The Falcons played their third consecutive tight game with an FCIAC power in its tilt Tuesday with the Stamford Black Knights, but Ludlowe fell for the third game in a row, 54--49 at Fairfield Ludlowe High School.

The Falcons were led by junior guards Kevin Bentivegna and Erik Krumins who each contributed 15 points. Senior center Andrew Kimberly also added 11 points and nine rebounds as the Falcons fell to 4--7.

Ludlowe lost its third straight game by five points or fewer. Six of the Falcons' seven losses have come by five points or fewer and four of them have come by three points.

"I feel like we are creating ways to lose," Ludlowe Head Coach Josh Marko said. "The ball just won't go in."

Ludlowe did fight valiantly with the high-flying Black Knights for the entire game. The Falcons came out ready to play and took a four-point lead from the opening jump. Ludlowe held Stamford to jump shots from the outside that weren't falling at the outset. However, Stamford responded to take an 11-10 lead after one quarter, which was a lead the Black Knights wouldn't relinquish.

"We have a pretty big lineup, which helped keep them to the outside," Bentivegna said. "But they shot the ball very well tonight, even with a hand in their face."

"I felt we played great defensively," Marko said.

Whenever Stamford seemed poised to pull away, the Falcons would respond keeping the game close. Stamford pushed its lead to 22--15 in the second but a pair of baskets from Bentivegna got Ludlowe back to within two, at 22--20. Stamford closed the half on a 6--2 run and took a 28-22 lead into the break.

"I had a lot of help from my big men setting screens up top," Bentivegna said. "We tried to push the ball and look for each other."

Stamford's lead peaked at nine, 31--22 out of halftime, but the Falcons outscored the Black Knights 9-3 and cut the Stamford advantage to 34-31, with baskets by Kimberly, Krumins and Billy Malone. Stamford entered the fourth quarter with a 38-33 lead.

"We never panicked on the defensive end, so we were always within striking distance," Marko said. "We slowed the game down enough to stay in it, it just didn't make enough of a difference."

In the fourth, Ludlowe got to within 38--37, but an alley-oop opened the Stamford lead back to five, and Stamford guard Jakai Wilson took a key charge that allowed the Black Knights to open their lead to 47-39.

Ludlowe still was not finished, though, as Ludlowe went on a 8--3 spurt that made the game 50--47. Krumins hit a jumper and a layup and forward Billy Malone (six points, six rebounds) got a put-back. Bentivegna hit a jumper that cut the Stamford advantage to three with 1:07 remaining, but Ludlowe stalled on its next possession and Stamford made free throws to take the Black Knights to their fourth straight win.

Ludlowe plays again today at Wilton at 4 p.m.