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Staples Girls Suffer 3rd Straight Loss

WESTPORT, Conn. – Fairfield Warde basketball coach Dave Danko focused on defending Staples’ dynamic tandem of Jess Coelho and Erica Stein during Friday’s important Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference game. The Mustangs did, and the Wreckers struggled to find offensive answers.

The Mustangs won their fifth straight game with a 52-40 home victory over Staples, which has lost three straight. Both teams are now tied at 7-5 in the conference. Warde is 9-5 overall, while Staples slipped to 8-6.

Stein came into the game averaging 15.6, and Coelho averaged 12.7. But neither could find any room to squeeze off shots against the Mustangs. Coelho finished with 11 points, all in the second half. Stein scored seven and had just two field goals, both in the fourth quarter.

“You have to pick your poison,’’ Danko said. “We didn’t want Coelho to go for 20 and let her and Stein beat us. We focused on stopping them.”

With its primary offensive options struggling, Staples got off to a poor start. It shot just one-for-11 from the field in the first quarter and fell into a 12-4 hole. Margaret Fair’s three-pointer with a second left in the second quarter trimmed Warde’s halftime lead to 24-17. But the Mustangs pulled away to lead 43-28 after three quarters. The Mustangs stretched the lead to 17 points at several points in the second half.

“Their early pressure was significant,’’ Staples coach Ed Huydic said. “We came down and couldn’t make a shot in transition. Their pressure as the game took its toll, and we didn’t take care of the ball as well as we need to do.”

Sydney Houseworth finished with 10 points for the Wreckers. Coelho was an inside force with her defense and rebounding. Nikki Bukovsky added eight. Staples also hurt itself at the foul line, where it shot just six-for-15.

“The difference ultimately is they shot a much higher percentage from the field and at the foul line,’’ Huydic said. “Our pressure picked it up but it was much too late.”

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