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The Fairfield Ludlowe Falcons girls’ basketball team came from behind to defeat The Darien Blue Wave 46-34 on Thursday night in Fairfield.

The Falcons (8-8, 6-6 FCIAC), who clinched a state tournament berth with the victory, got off to a great start. Bridget Paulmann knocked down back-to-back threes to open up the game to give Ludlowe a 6-0 lead 2:05 in. Darien (6-9, 6-7 FCIAC) got on the board with 4:22 left in the quarter on two free throws by Katie Ramsay.

“Clinching the state tournament was one of our goals coming into the season so we get to check that box off and now we get ready for next week and the games coming up,” said Ludlowe head coach Sara Kinsley.

Ludlowe controlled the first quarter and took an 11-6 lead after one.

Things flipped in the second quarter, as Darien outscored Ludlowe 14-3 in the frame. Christine Fiore’s basket and Kelly Richter’s three-pointer tied the game at 11 for the Blue Wave with 5:48 to play in the half.

With the game tied at 14 with 2:55 left in the half, Darien would close the quarter on a 6-0 run to take a 20-14 lead at halftime. The six point lead would tie the largest the Blue Wave would have in the game.

“That’s the only quarter we played today,” said Darien head coach Melba Chambers. “We played hard the second quarter like we wanted to win.”

A big difference in the half were foul shots, as Darien was 7-11 in the first half, while Ludlowe was just 1-2 from the free throw line. Fiore had nine points in the frame for the Blue Wave, including shooting 3-4 from the line.

“The second quarter we started to hesitate with our offense and we really let Darien’s pressure take us out of our offensive set,” said Kinsley.

Darien maintained the lead throughout the third, as Ludlowe was able to get close, but could never tie or take the lead in the period. The Falcons outscored the Blue Wave, 13-6 in the quarter.

Anna Paulmann connected on two shots for Ludlowe in between a basket by Fiore and Darien led 22-18 with 5:15 left in the third. Darien went back up six, 26-20 on a basket by Ramsay with 3:57 to go in the quarter.

“Once we refocused (at halftime) and were able to swing the ball and keep our spacing we were really able to attack the zone, attack the gaps and get great open looks,” said Kinsley.

From that point, Ludlowe outscore the Blue Wave 6-1 for the remainder of the period. Paige O’Connell would connect on a basket and knock down a foul shot to cut the deficit to 23-20 with two minutes to play in the quarter.

After Hassana Arbubakrr made a free throw with 1:53 left to make it 27-23, Bridget O’Leary put home a layup and was fouled with 1:13 to play. She made the free throw to complete the three-point play to cut the Darien lead to 27-26 after three quarters.

“Our defensive intensity is something that we really strive to be best at in every game and tonight was no different,” said Kinsley. Our girls played confident and composed with a lot of a lot of hustle and a lot of intensity on defense.  

The fourth quarter was dominated by Ludlowe, as they outscored Darien 20-7 in the final frame. With the score tied at 31 with 4:31 to play, the Falcons finished the game on a 15-3 run.

“We didn’t play hard. We got beat to every loose ball. We got out hustled. We didn’t make our layups,” said Chambers. “We didn’t do anything well in the second half.”

Ludlowe reclaimed the lead for good on a Bridget Paulmann three-pointer with 3:48 left to put the Falcons up 34-31. From there, would hit eight free throws down the stretch to secure the victory. Bridget Paulmann and O’Leary would score the final 12 points for the Falcons.  

“We fouled, they made their free throws,” said Chambers.

Fiore led Darien with 17 points. Ludlowe was led by Bridget Paulmann’s 21 points, including 14 in the fourth quarter.

Ludlowe 46, Darien 34

Darien 6-14-7-7 34

Ludlowe 11-3-12-20 46

Darien: Kelly Richter 1 0-0 3, Lindsay Dimonekas 1 1-2 3, Katie Ramsay 3 2-5 8, Christine Fiore 6 5-6 17, Hassana Arbubakrr 1 1-4 3. Totals 12 9-17 34

Ludlowe: Anna Paulmann 3 0-0 6, Bridget O’Leary 1 7-7 9, Bridget Paulmann 6 5-8 21, Erin O’Leary 3 0-0 7, Paige O’Connell 1 1-3 3. Totals 14 13-18 46