The 1-3-1 zone defense is best played by long, athletic players.

The Stamford girls basketball team is full of long, athletic players, making the defense the perfect fit.

The Black Knights used the zone to create turnovers and get out in transition Friday night, beating Fairfield Ludlowe 60-47 in Stamford.

The win moves Stamford (14-2, 12-2 FCIAC) into sole possession of third place in the FCIAC while sliding the Falcons (13-3, 11-3) into a tie with Westhill and Warde at No. 4 in the conference.

Stamford coach Diane Burns said her team is at ease in the 1-3-1 and as a team has bought in to making defense in general the No. 1 priority.

"We have been focusing most of the season on our defense and the 1-3-1 is something the girls are comfortable with and confident playing," Burns said. "They are so athletic and long that it really causes problems for people and was useful tonight."

Stamford used the zone effectively from the opening tip, getting out to an 11-2 lead, before Ludlowe called a timeout.

The timeout seemed to settle the Falcons, who were able to get the ball to the back line of the zone, creeping back into the game in the process to pull within 16-13 after one quarter.

Ludlowe coach Sarah Huntington admitted the Stamford zone was tough, but felt her team came out flat, missing too many easy shots early on.

"We had eight turnovers in the first four minutes," Huntington said. "Give them credit, they played a great game but, we were prepared for (the 1-3-1) but we just came out a little bit flat and on offense that showed because we missed so many bunnies."

Stamford led 32-25 at halftime and came out in the second half prepared to deny Ludlowe to the ball along the back line of its zone.

"We had our guards drop," Burns said. "And we had our trap keep their hands up. They got a little tired and their hands came down. We made a few little adjustments and the girls listened to them and that made the difference for us."

The Black Knights led 43-32 after three, holding Ludlowe to just one field goal and seven points in the frame.

Picking up a quality win over another Top 5 FCIAC team can only boost the confidence of the Black Knights as the season hits the home stretch.

"It was a great win and we came together as a team," Stamford guard Brianna Gordon said. "We did what we needed to do tonight. We are definitely a team, we work together and we know each other so well and where each other are on the court."

Gordon led all scorers with 19 while Tiana England added 13 for Stamford.

Pauline Blatt led Ludlowe with 13 with Alex McKinnon scoring 11.

The loss may hurt the Falcons chances of finishing in the top four and a home quarterfinal.

This game was the start of a tough stretch to close the season for Ludlowe, which faces Warde, Westhill, Wilton and Danbury -- all playoff teams -- to close the season.

The Black Knights do not have an easy road either, with games against city rival Westhill, Trumbull and Greenwich before closing against New Canaan.; @EricsonSports

Stamford 60, Ludlowe 47

STAMFORD (14-2, 12-2)

Maxine Foidman 2 4-6 8 Tiana England 6 0-0 13 Brianna Gordon 7 5-8 19 Anisa Fortt 2 2-2 7 Kelsey Santagata 2 2-2 6 Camry Evans 0 2-2 2 Britney Moise 2 1-2 5. Totals: 21 16-22 60

LUDLOWE (13-3, 11-3)

Regan Steed 0 4-7 4 Caroline Pangallo 3 2-2 8 Charlotte Blatt 2 0-2 5 Sara Grabowski 2 0-1 4 Pauline Blatt 4 5-6 13 Alex McKinnon 5 1-2 11 Julia vonEhr 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17 12-20 47

STAMFORD 16 16 11 17--60

LUDLOWE 13 12 7 15--47

3-pointers: FL--C. Blatt; S--England, Fortt. Fouled out: FL--C. Blatt, P. Blatt