NEW HAVEN -- The conventional thought was that senior guard Tom Nolan needed to carry his weight in scoring for Fairfield Prep to beat the state's top teams this season.

The Jesuits proved otherwise on Wednesday, knocking off previously unbeaten Career 63-56 at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.

Nolan had only four points, but senior guard Ryan Foley scored 23 and Rich Kelly had 17 to help the Jesuits stay perfect at 8-0.

"Tommy knows that other teams are trying to shut him down," Jesuits coach Leo Redgate said. "He's very positive with the other players on the team. I would argue his own unselfishness at times allows the other guys to feel more confident."

Career's struggles at the free-throw line (15 for 29) also benefitted the Jesuits, who overcame a 31-30 deficit at halftime to surprise the state's second-ranked team.

"My thing is you just don't walk up in the gym," Career coach Larry Kelley said. "You've always got to keep an edge. That's what I tell my kids.

"I kind of felt that (we) walked up in here expecting to just win."

Center Pat Harding scored eight of his 10 points in the first half, putting the Jesuits up double digits early. Outside of the second quarter, in which Career held a 21-10 advantage in scoring, the Jesuits beat Career in all facets of the game.

Nolan didn't need to do the bulk of the scoring, either.

"I would rather take whatever I had tonight and win," Nolan said, "instead of 30. It doesn't matter, it's all about getting the W. That's what we did tonight."

Foley enjoyed the biggest night of anyone, scoring 12 points in the second half. Seven of those came in the third quarter, helping Prep build a 46-41 lead.

"Foley played an incredible game," Redgate said. "I thought Ryan Kelly played the best game so far this year."

Career got as close as two points to the lead on multiple occasions in the fourth quarter, but Prep held its own. Career had an opportunity to pull within one point late, but guard Tyreek Perkins missed a pair of free throws. Prep's Joe DiGennaro responded with a conventional 3-point play on the other end to give the Jesuits a 58-52 lead with 2:04 remaining.

Forward Justin Campbell scored 17 points to lead Career, and Perkins added 13 points.

Career got back within 60-56 in the final minute but came up empty on its last few possessions. Foley hit a pair of free throws with 14.3 seconds left to put the balanced Jesuits up six.

"We don't have superstars by design," Redgate said. "I think the program speaks for itself."

While the win put fourth-ranked Prep in position to rise in the state rankings, Career learned an early lesson.

"I think it rang a bell, and it will wake them up a little bit," Kelley said of the loss.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; twitter.com/DougBonjour

FAIRFIELD PREP (8-0)

Tate Duran 0 0-0 0 Matt Gerics 0 0-0 0 Will Lucas 0 0-0 0 John Murphy 0 0-0 0 Tom Nolan 1 1-2 4 John Kelly 0 0-0 0 Rich Kelly 5 5-6 17 Joe DiGennaro 4 1-1 9 Ryan Foley 7 8-9 23 Pat Harding 4 2-2 10 Senay Bellete 0 0-0 0 Allen Gibson 0 0-0 0 Brendan Carey 0 0-0 0. Totals 21 17-20 63.

CAREER (8-1)

Tamar Williams 0 0-0 0 Tyquis Burney 0 0-0 0 Tyreek Perkins 4 4-8 13 Tyrell Eaddy 2 2-4 7 Danny Ampofo 3 0-1 6 Kevin Smith 2 2-2 6 Da'qujuan Walker 0 0-0 0 Justin Campbell 6 4-9 17 Justin Gordneer 1 3-5 5 Fred Adams 0 0-0 0 Roger Hamlet 0 0-0 0 Dashawn Williams 0 0-0 0 Osama Elsankary 0 0-0 0 Kareem Harvin 0 0-0 0 Will Jackson 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 15-29 56.

FAIRFIELD PREP 20 10 16 17 -- 63

CAREER 10 21 10 15 -- 56

3-pointers: FP -- R. Kelly 2, Foley, Nolan. C -- Perkins, Eaddy, Campbell. Fouled out: FP -- DiGennaro. C -- Perkins.