Friday could have been the turnaround. Without a doubt, the Fairfield-Warde boys' basketball team had the tools to break their losing streak.

But Trumbull's second-chance points, coupled with the Mustangs' late-game field goal drought, spelled disaster for Warde and the Mustangs fell to the Eagles, 65-57.

"It was more defense than the offensive side of the game," said Mustangs' captain Tyler Bisack. "They scored 65 points and that shouldn't happen against our team with a team like that. We scored 57 points and that's enough to win games."

For two quarters, the Mustangs kept pace. Trumbull took a 10-4 early lead but Bisack (25 points) closed the gap to 10-6 by assisting Kadeem Mundle (8 points) on a fast break.

After two Trumbull free throws, Bisack hit the first of his three 3-pointers, followed by Mundle's first of two, and the Mustangs were even at 12, waiting for Ryan Swedberg's turnaround jumper to give them a 14-12 lead.

A putback and a foul shot put Trumbull up 15-14 before Bisack drove the paint to a layup and a 16-15 lead as the first-quarter buzzer sounded.

The second quarter saw three lead changes and three tie scores, the third on Bisack's third three-ball with 1:15 on the clock. The Eagles held the ball, apparently waiting for the last second, when Greg Guinyard saw a seam in the Warde defense and put Trumbull up 31-29. Bisack's attempted buzzer-beater rattled off the rim.

For the first six minutes of the third quarter, the Mustangs took charge.

Andrew Tracey's trey gave them a 32-31 lead. Mersim Markovic (nine rebounds, five points) regained the lead as Jordan Trapp drove the baseline and fed him a perfect bounce pass. Tracey, fouled beyond the arc, hit all three free throws. Swedberg tore the ball from an Eagle's hands and ran the floor to assist Mundle. Bisack put back his own miss and Swedberg's runner gave the Mustangs a 43-39 lead with 2:12 left in the third.

"When we're on, we can shoot the ball with anybody," said Warde Head Coach Walter Fitzgerald. "But we're inconsistent with our shooting. We'll play a 36-point half and we'll play a 21-point half. That's the way we play."

Then came the elements of Fitzgerald's 21-point half. In the next seven minutes, Warde scored five points, only from the foul line.

"Third quarter we seem to come out dry," said Bisack. "There's no team in the league that we can't hang with. We play close in every game. Even with Central, we were down five points at the half. We gotta figure out what it is with the third quarter."

Trumbull also struggled late but won battles in the paint and added perimeter shooting, inching ahead to a 52-48 advantage before Tracey's second three-ball closed the score to 52-51 with 3:11 left in the game.

The Mustangs would not score another field goal until the final 30 seconds, when the score was 64-52 after the Eagles hit 10 of 14 free throws in mandatory foul time.

"We're a better team than that, but right now we're in a rut that we just can't get out of," said Fitzgerald. "I don't know what to tell you and I don't know what to tell the kids at this point. We'll just keep on trying."

A little over halfway through the season, the Mustangs are within reach of their first state tournament berth in many years.

"Practice is going to be tough tomorrow," predicted Bisack. "We're just going to play defense all day, no offense. 8 more games. We just gotta get three more wins."

Warde will take on New Canaan, Danbury, and Darien in its next three games.