Six players scored points and it was all hands on deck for the St. Joseph High defense when coach Chris Watts’ Cadets turned a 13-11 lead into a 28-16 halftime advantage and defeated Fairfield Ludlowe, 59-51, in an FCIAC battle at the Vito Montelli Court on Monday night.

“Once we got to double digits we’d like to have gone further,” Watts said. “I wish I had five more guys ready to come off the bench to play that same defense in the second half. It takes time [to build a bench], but it will come.”

St. Joseph’s fullcourt sideline trap resulted in steals from Quincy McKnight, Erick Langston and Judenick Florian to open the second stanza.

Those takeaways resulted in the 6-3 McKnight’s tip-in hoop, a free throw by Florian, and an acrobatic layup by Raekwon Reid.

Denzel Moscova, nursing an injury, came in to grab a board and hit two free throws to extend the lead to 20-13.

Jake Pelletier turned McKnight’s quick outlet pass to Reid into a three-point play, before Jonny Dzurenda scored inside and McKnight made two from the line for a 12-point lead at intermission.

The Falcons’ Mark Malone scored seven points to help Ludlowe win the third quarter, 14-7, and close the deficit to 37-30 with one period to play.

McKnight scored nine of his game-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, including six straight free throws in the final two minutes.

“The kids are shooting well from the free throw line,” said Watts, whose team converted six late in its season-opening win over Ridgefield. “As a coach you like to see the kids finish.”

Ludlowe closed within 51-49 on Malone’s pull-up jumper with 1:21 left in regulation.

McKnight drove around a screen set by Langston to earn two made free throws, and after rebounding a Falcon miss, went to the line and drained two more foul shots.

“It’s tough chasing them because you know they’ll make their free throws,” Falcon coach Brian Silvestro said. “We prepared pretty well, but you have to give St. Joe’s credit. You can prepare for the press, but they still make you pay.”

Pelletier and Reid, who had five assists and five steals, closed the game with breakaway hoops.

“They really shot the ball well in the second half,” Watts said of Ludlowe. “In the first half we were lucky enough to find [the shooters].

“They came out in a 1-3-1 zone in the third quarter and that slowed us down. We were lucky enough to make the adjustments against a very well-coached team.

“Ludlowe plays the game the way its supposed to be played.”

The Cadets’ Steve Hashemi came off the bench midway through the first quarter and the 6-5 senior scored six points down the stretch to give St. Joseph its two-point lead.

Dzurenda scored eight of his 17 points for St. Joseph in the third quarter.

Langston (10 rebounds) was at his best to open the final stanza, as the 6-2 junior scored on a nice move in traffic, rebounded back-to-back Ludlowe misses, and hit the boards for a putback and a 46-40 lead at the 3:55 mark.

St. Joseph used an 18-8 third-quarter run to overcome a 22-16 halftime deficit and went on to hand Watts his first varsity victory with a 48-42 road win over Ridgefield High on Wednesday night.

Langston scored 12 points, Dzurenda 11, McKnight 10 and Reid seven points for the Cadets.

St. Joseph made it three straight wins with a 73-55 victory over New Canaan on Tuesday.

McKnight scored 19 points to lead 12 players into the scorebook.

St. Joseph hosts Darien tonight at 7 and then moves to the Webster Bank Arena for its NECC Tournament on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28.

Schedule

Dec. 20 Darien, 7

Dec. 27 NECC, 8

Dec. 28 NECC, 8

Jan. 4 at Wilton, 7

Jan. 8 Greenwich, 7

Jan. 11 at Harding, 7

Jan. 15 T Catholic, 7

Jan. 18 Trumbull, 7

Jan. 22 Danbury, 7

Jan. 25 at Bassick, 7

Jan. 29 at Staples, 7

Feb. 5 Norwalk, 7

Feb. 8 Central, 7

Feb. 11 at Stamford, 7

Feb. 13 at McMahon, 7

Feb. 18 at Westhill, 7

Feb. 20 Warde, 7