Coach Paco Fabian and the Staples of Westport girls basketball team attempted to put up a speed-bump in an effort to slow down a still undefeated St. Joseph squad in Trumbull on Jan. 6.

Fabian employed a series of man and zone defenses in order to give his team a chance against a Cadet squad which had taken down its first seven opponents, including an impressive 51-38 win over defending Class M state champion New London back on Dec. 29, in the championship game of the Notre Dame of Fairfield Christmas Tournament.

Even with players guarding players as closely as possible, St. Joseph came out on top, 44-30. The winners were held, however, to their lowest scoring total of the season.

“I didn’t think we shot the ball particularly well tonight (the Cadets were 15-of-47 from the floor) and we were sluggish in the first half, but you’ve got to give lots of credit to Staples,” said St. Joseph coach Chris Lindwall. “They were able to pressure us all game long. They played a great defensive game.”

Both teams did show outstanding defensive efforts early on and neither squad was able to score until the Cadets’ Shannon O’Meara hit a jumper from the right-side baseline after taking a pass from Ana DeCarmo with 3:27 left in the first quarter.

St. Joseph went on to lead 7-0 one quarter after Jackie Jozeflick scored from underneath at 1:22 and Bridget Sharnick knocked down a short jumper from inside in the closing seconds.

The Cadets, who went to the Class M quarterfinals last year before losing to Morgan of Clinton, led 16-6 by halftime.

A 15-point third quarter allowed the eventual winners to push their lead out to 31-14 and the Cadets were outscored, 16-13, over the final eight minutes as Lindwall began subbing freely.

“We worked about as hard as we could tonight defensively,” Fabian said. “That may have taken away some from what we could do offensively.

“We knew they’d be hard to stop. They have so many players who can score and once they get going, they move the ball around well.”

Lindwall liked his team’s energy in the third quarter.

“Even though we’re 8-0 and have now qualified for the state tourney, we have so much to work on,” he said.

“We didn’t attack the basket well tonight until the second half. Maybe the long lay-off had something to do with that. We do need to improve offensively. We missed too many shots tonight. We need to get much better in that area.”

The Cadets tight, zone defense limited Staples (2-5) to a 24 percent (12-of-50) shooting night from the floor. The Cadets have been winning games by a scoring margin of 28.3.

The Sharnick twins, Bridget and Caitlin, led St. Joseph with 13 and eight points, respectively.

Madelin Seiderman had 11 points and Olivia Troy added 8 for the Wreckers.

Bridget Sharnick had nine rebounds and three steals, Jozefick had eight rebounds and for blocks and Shannon O’Meara had seven rebounds.

The Cadets held a 35-30 edge on the boards and picked up six assists compared to five for Staples.

St. Joseph honored many of its girls basketball alumni during a brief halftime ceremony. Players dating all the way back to 1967 and three from the 2014 squad were in attendance.