DARIEN, Conn. – Coming off a victory in the LaVista Tournament last week, Darien High’s boys basketball team looked to extend its winning streak to a modest three games. But unlike last week when the Blue Wave won tight games at the end, this time they suffered a disappointing setback.
Trumbull rallied from an eight-point first-half deficit to defeat Darien, 48-47. Matt Staubi scored 16 points for the Blue Wave (2-4), but his last-second shot rimmed out.
“It shouldn’t have gotten to that point,’’ Darien coach Kyle Marian said. “We didn’t stick to what we do well. We let them have hope, and that’s the worst thing you can do. They kept chipping away, and we lost our poise.”
Chima Azuonwu scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds for Darien despite missing the final five minutes of the first half with foul trouble. The Eagles made their run when Azuonwu left the game with Darien ahead, 21-13, with 5:12 left in the second quarter.
The Eagles trimmed the lead to 25-21 entering halftime and caught the Blue Wave in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was tight, with the teams separated by no more than two points for most of the quarter.
“It’s unfortunate,’’ Marian said. “We’re better than that. There are a lot of things that we could’ve done a little bit better. Then we’re not in a position where we have to hit a last-second shot.”
Staubi and Azuonwu combined for 13 first-quarter points to build a 16-12 lead. But with Azuonwu on the bench, the Blue Wave started settling for perimeter jumpers as the Eagles closed in. Azuonwu, a 6-foot, 10-inch center, had four points in the final three quarters, and Trumbull harassed Staubi with a box-and-one defense for much of the second half. He had just one field goal in the final quarter.
Darien came in with momentum after beating Greenwich and Staples to win the LaVista Tournament. After going 3-18 a year ago, the Blue Wave look like one of the most improved teams in the league. Staubil and Azuonwu, a pair of junior transfers from Rye Country Day, are part of a nucleus ready to make big strides this winter. Friday’s loss was a step back.
“We have all the puzzle pieces,’’ Marian said. “I just don’t know what the final picture is going to be yet. That’s up to them, and if they put the work in. At least we’re not looking under the table for that middle piece. We have all the pieces. We just have to do a better job of putting it together.”
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