Girls basketball: Warde downs St. Joseph

The Fairfield Warde girls basketball team controlled the game from start to finish, handing St. Joseph High a 53-41 defeat at Montelli Court in an FCIAC matchup on Tuesday night.

It was the third victory in a row for coach Dave Danko’s Mustangs, who improved to 4-4 overall, 2-2 in the FCIAC. The Cadets dropped to 6-3 overall, 3-3 in the FCIAC.

St. Joseph had no answer for Warde senior forward Iliana Krasniqi, who poured in 20 points.

“She is a tough matchup down there,” St. Joseph head coach Chris Lindwall said. “Without Nia (Osborne, Warde’s All-FCIAC injured center) for them, she’s got to go and adjust her game and play back-to-the-basket… She’s a Division II college player. There’s a reason for it, she’s worked very hard on her game.”

Daja Polk chipped in with 16 markers and Olivia Parisi 11 for the Mustangs, helping them maintain a double-digit lead for the entirety of the second half.

A jumper from Brenna Hynes (team-high 10 points) cut St. Joseph’s deficit to 40-30 with 5:07 left, before Parisi answered with a 3-pointer play on the other end. That was as close as the Cadets got, as Polk and Krasniqi combined to knocked down 6-for-6 from the foul line over the final 3:13.

“They come out and score five points right off the bat,” Lindwall said. “That’s where I thought we had our chance.”

It was Krasniqi, a Pace University commit, that helped Warde build up an early lead.

Megan Robertson sank a 3-pointer from the right wing with 3:37 remaining in the first, then converted a pair of foul shots after a Cadet stop on the defensive end.

But baskets from Parisi, Krasniqi — who scored eight points in the quarter — and Polk restored Warde’s edge for good heading into the second quarter.

Kathryn Zito opened the period with a driving layup, to which Warde responded with an 8-2 run en route to establishing a 26-17 halftime edge.

“We allowed them to do what they wanted to do for about 4-5 minutes in that second quarter,” Lindwall said.

Warde led by as many as 17 in the second half, before St. Joseph threatened in the fourth quarter.

“We’re playing hard, we’re doing some good things, but we’re just not making the right decisions yet,” Lindwall said. “We’ve got to figure that out.”

The Cadets return to action on Friday when they travel to Greenwich High for a 7 p.m. tip.