FAIRFIELD-- Playing without its head coach and leading scorer did not prove problematic for the Fairfield Ludlowe boys basketball team.

Keyed by Patrick Gutierrez's 21 points and seven rebounds, the Falcons rolled to a 50-30 win over Danbury on Thursday night at Ludlowe.

Despite playing without head coach Brian Silvestro -- who missed his second straight game with a kidney stone-- and leading-scorer Mark Malone-- who suffered a head injury Tuesday against Trinity Catholic-- the Falcons improved to 8-8, clinching a Class L state playoff berth.

"I'm real excited," Ludlowe assistant coach John Dailey said. "We won this game for coach, because he lives and dies for this stuff. I just thought we played terrific ¦ holding anybody to 30 points is impressive."

Ludlowe is now 7-7 in the FCIAC and is just a half-game behind Wilton for the final conference playoff spot with four games to play.

"We're still looking for FCIACs," Gutierrez said. "We want a higher seed in the state ¦ that's a big goal of ours."

Danbury played without senior guard Danyjoel Harris, who was suspended for his ejection Tuesday at Westhill. Marquise Marrero led Danbury with 11 points and seven rebounds as the Hatters dropped their eighth straight, falling to 5-11.

"We struggled scoring the ball," Danbury coach Casey Bock said. "I'm proud of my guys' effort, we're playing hard and playing together."

Ludlowe used an aggressive man-to-man defense to generate an 18-0 third-quarter run. The Falcons forced nine third-quarter turnovers, boosting their five-point halftime lead to 38-21 after three.

"We didn't allow any second-chance opportunities," Dailey said. "We boxed out like crazy ¦ once we built that lead, our energy just skyrocketed."

"We had turnovers, where they got layups on the other end, which killed us," Bock said.

The Falcons outscored the Hatters 30-15 in the second half and kept their opponent under 40 points for the fifth time this year. Ludlowe is 5-0 in such contests.

"They're just a good, well-coached team," Bock said. "We didn't put enough points on the board tonight."

Chad Peterson scored seven of his nine points during Ludlowe's 9-0 second-quarter run. The Falcons first-half lead peaked at eight, 20-12, and Ludlowe led 20-15 at halftime.

Gutierrez also hit three 3-pointers -- two of which came in the first quarter against the Hatters' passive 2-3 zone -- as Ludlowe built a 10-2 first-quarter lead.

"Ball movement definitely helped us," Gutierrez said. "When we got the ball to the middle, we passed right out and that freed us up for open shots ¦ I had to make those."

Bock switched to a 3-2 zone, which frustrated the Falcons, and Danbury responded scoring the first quarter's final eight points. Danbury and Ludlowe were tied at 10 after one.

"They played (the 3-2 zone) pretty well," Dailey said. "We were just passing around the perimeter ¦ we weren't asserting ourselves offensively."

ppickens@bcnnew.com; twitter.com/Pat_Pickens

DANBURY (5-11, 3-11)

Corey Chaffee 2 0-0 5 Marquise Marrero 4 1-2 11 Tysheen McCrea 3 1-2 7 Donovan Trimandilis 1 0-0 2 Mike Kline 0 0-0 0 Corey Brusz 0 1-2 1 Jalen McCallum 2 0-0 4 Mike Schneider 0 0-0 0 Totals: 12 3-6 30


Dan Santella 0 1-2 1 Matthew Doyle 2 2-2 7 Darren Lee 0 1-2 1 Chad Peterson 3 3-4 9 Patrick Gutierrez 7 4-6 21 Kiran Prakash 0 0-0 0 Jack Armstrong 0 0-0 0 Stephen Scholz 0 5-6 5 Connor Peterson 3 0-0 6 Alex Gorusch 0 0-0 0 Brent Peiffer 0 0-0 0 Totals: 15 16-22 50

DANBURY 10 5 6 9-- 30

LUDLOWE 10 10 18 12-- 50

3-pointers: Danbury 3 (Marrerro 2, Chaffee); FL 4 (Gutierrez 3, Doyle).