FAIRFIELD -- A dreadful 4-16 last year, Masuk surged into Sister Marion Rielly Auditorium on Wednesday off a signature win and with plenty of reason to believe that last season's woes are firmly in the past.

The Panthers left knowing that they still have plenty of room to grow.

Notre Dame-Fairfield overwhelmed the SWC upstart, using runs of 15-1 and 13-3 in the first half to roll to an 88-59 win.

"They played harder, they executed, they ran their stuff," Masuk coach Peter Szklarz said. "We didn't."

Guard Jake Heaton scored 19 points, and four other players scored in double-figures for the Lancers, who grabbed a 16-15 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. The Lancers (7-5) finished the quarter on a 9-0 spurt.

"To be able to do what we did tonight against a team like Masuk, who had been playing very well this year, was ... pretty good," coach Vin Laczkoski said.

Masuk (7-5) tried to play Notre Dame's up-tempo style, but the Lancers neutralized sharpshooter Bryan Acevedo and wore down their opponent. Acevedo, who scored 32 points in the Panthers' upset of SWC front-runner Weston last week, had a quiet 16 points.

What was the Lancers' game plan on defending Acevedo?

"To make him work for everything like he did," Laczkoski said. "He's a very, very good player, and he's a streaky type of kid. I thought all our guards kind of wore him down a little bit."

Acevedo scored only two points after halftime, and Notre Dame's lead ballooned to as many as 33 points.

Jordan Pettway finished the first half in style, swishing a heave from halfcourt to give Notre Dame a 46-27 lead. He finished with 18 points, and CJ Davidson scored 16.

"My coach always tells me, `Two seconds or less, try to get two dribbles and get off a good shot,'" Pettway said. "I just put it up."

The Lancers played their up-tempo game markedly better than Masuk, which never got closer than 17 points in the second half. The Panthers trailed 69-42 after the third quarter.

After spending four seasons on Western Connecticut State's bench as an assistant, Szklarz was hired last June to breathe life into a program that's won only 22 games the past three seasons. The quick turnaround's provided optimism, but Wednesday just wasn't the Panthers' night.

"They're one of the teams that we try and gear up for the whole season," he said. "They're one of the top teams every year, and they're one of the teams we want to go out and try to knock off.

"We didn't even come close tonight."

Matt Hornak finished with nine points for Masuk, and Cameron Kovachik scored seven.

The Lancers have now won two straight after back-to-back losses to top-ranked Sacred Heart and Newtown.

"They wanted to run with us," Laczkoski said. "That's kind of our game."

dbonjour@ctpost.com; twitter.com/DougBonjour

MASUK (7-5)

Bryan Acevedo 6 2-2 16 Jay Buhlmann 1 0-0 3 Matt Simmeth 1 1-2 3 Matt Hornak 4 0-0 9 Roberto Ramos 2 0-0 5 Cameron Kovachik 2 3-5 7 David Clarke 0 1-2 1 Joe Capodagli 2 1-2 5 Michael Zazuri 3 0-0 6 Brian Lilly 2 0-1 4 Ryan Simmeth 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 8-14 59.


Jordan Pettway 6 4-7 18 CJ Davidson 8 0-1 16 Jesse McIntosh 5 0-0 11 Justin Federici 1 0-0 2 Jake Heaton 7 5-6 19 Ryan Keeley 2 1-2 5 Clay Westerman 0 0-0 0 Woodley Monnexant 0 0-0 0 Colin Burke 3 7-8 13 Noreaga Davis 2 0-0 4 Garnell Bell 0 0-0 0 Jordan Genias 0 0-0 0. Totals 34 17-24 88.

MASUK 15 12 15 17 -- 59

ND-FAIRFIELD 20 26 23 19 -- 88

3-pointers: M -- Acevedo 2, Buhlmann, Hornak, Ramos; NDF -- Pettway, Davidson. Fouled out: M -- Kovachik.