NORWALK -- Facing first-place Ridgefield on Tuesday, the Brien McMahon girls basketball team simply wanted to compete.
It was a tall order, but McMahon head coach Mark McElveen was confident that his team handled that goal, even if the scoreboard appeared to say otherwise.
The Senators, who were playing without guards A'daisha Goodwin and Billi Jo Tomlin, and center Jazmine Taylor, trailed 28-15 at halftime, and by as many as 26 points during the fourth quarter, before falling 57-38 to the Tigers.
"The best game we've played all year. I don't care what the scoreboard says," McElveen noted. "With what we had and what they can do, I think we got the most out of them. That's all I could ask for as a coach."
McMahon again struggled early on offense, scoring just 17 points through the first 20 minutes, and the Tigers quickly pulled away. After McMahon guard Karley Barreno nailed a jump shot to trim the deficit to 11 points early in the third quarter, Ridgefield (7-2) responded with a game-changing 14-3 run to take a 42-20 lead.
While the slow start diminished McMahon's upset hopes--the Senators fell to 2-8 on the year and have now lost seven straight games--intensity on both ends of the floor remained. The Senators forced mutiple turnovers with a suffocating full-court press and cut their deficit to 46-27 late in the third quarter on a 3-point play by Barreno.
"We're not a great offensive team and you don't like to start behind. When you get behind a team like Ridgefield, you're going to play catch-up the whole game," McElveen said. "Despite that, they continue to play hard."
The Tigers opened their largest lead of the game, 57-31, on a layup by forward Emily Favorite late in the fourth quarter, but McMahon closed the contest by hitting three of its last four shot attempts.
Favorite led all scorers with 16 points, while teammate Samme Jancin added 10 points.
"Each individual, whatever God-given talent, they used it tonight as a team. I don't think anyone did anything great, everyone just did what they were capable of doing," McElveen said. "I'm just pleased with the way they played. Unfortunately, we played a team like Ridgefield, who's probably one of the top two or three teams in the conference. It looked good, but we didn't get the victory."
Forward Brittany Brim led McMahon with 12 points, while guard Kiara Goodwin scored nine.
While McMahon has struggled to turn its production into wins this season, McElveen believes that the Senators' fortunes will soon change, especially considering the effort that's been shown in recent losses.
"As we start playing some of the middle-of-the-road teams like we are," McElveen said, "we'll get back on the winning side. I'm positive about that."
Ridgefield led 18-8 after the first quarter, and extended that lead by four, until guard Talia Santiago responded with a layup with 3:20 remaining in the half to trim the Senators' deficit to 22-10.
The Senators will look to break their losing streak when they host Bridgeport Central (2-8) today at 5:30 p.m.