The Staples girls basketball team ran into a torrid team Friday.

That team is Fairfield Warde, which dominated Staples for three quarters, and held on for a 52-40 home win -- its fifth straight victory.

"I like the atmosphere in the gym," Warde coach Dave Danko said. "I like us playing like a team, this is really enjoyable."

Seven different Lady Mustangs scored, led by Jamera Fountain's 19. Kate Kerrigan added 13 and sophomore Kaitlin McKenna scored seven as the Mustangs improved to 9-5, after a 1-4 start.

"We played the tough part of our schedule," Danko said. "This team has rallied, and we had to tinker with our guard offense, and it's been working."

Warde's victory also pushed it into a five-way tie for eighth, including Staples, at 7-5 in the FCIAC standings, with seven games left.

Jess Coelho scored 11 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and four steals and senior Syd Houseworth scored 10, adding nine rebounds as Staples dropped its third straight game.

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"Warde is a team that's got momentum going for them," Staples coach Ed Huydic said. "They're playing with a lot of positive energy right now."

The Mustangs never trailed, building a 15-4 advantage early in the second period, led by Kerrigan's eight. The Mustangs' advantage peaked at 22-10 in the first half.

"We had to show our intensity early," Fountain said. "We couldn't let them hang around."

"If you play them when you're behind, they're tough," Huydic said.

But Staples, led by junior Nikki Bukovsky, cut the Warde advantage to 24-17 at halftime. Bukovsky scored six of her eight in the first half, keeping the Lady Wreckers within striking distance.

"When we ran our sets, we got good looks," Huydic said. "But not always did they go down."

But Warde stepped up the defensive effort, and converted in the third, outscoring the Wreckers 19-11, including an 8-0 run. Warde's lead peaked 43-24, when Fountain capped a 17-5 run with Fountain's 3-pointer. Senior Carly Mappa added her four points, in the third, as Warde held a 43-28 advantage after three quarters.

Fountain admitted her burden to score is less when players like McKenna or Brielle Lanese (four points, seven rebounds, three blocks) are chipping in from the low post.

"I think it is a lot easier," she said. "They're a great help."

Staples used a 7-2 run in the beginning of the fourth, spearheaded by Coelho's two jump shots, to get to within 10 with 3:48 to play, but Warde scored the next six points, with Fountain adding four to her total.

Staples plays again Friday at home against Westhill.

The Lady Mustangs will play at Trinity Catholic Friday.