A back-and-forth game between Fairfield Warde and McMahon tilted in Warde's favor with 15 seconds left in the first half, when sloppy ball-handling by McMahon gave the Mustangs six quick points and an eight-point lead at intermission.
"We just gave them six points," McMahon coach Mark McElveen said.
"It was a back-and-forth game and we just gave them the ball. It was like 10-15 seconds at the end of the quarter and we just rushed. It made a difference in how the game was played."
Fairfield Warde coach David Danko agreed.
"That gave us momentum," he said.
The Mustangs scored the game's first six points, with individual buckets from Tiara Fountain, Kaitlin McKenna and Kenzie Burns. The trio finished the game as the Mustangs' three leading scorers: Fountain (16 points), McKenna (a game-high 19 points) and Burns (12 points).
McMahon responded with five straight points from sophomore guard Kayla Croswell, who led the Senators with 18 points and was consistently attacking the Warde defense to gain open looks for her teammates.
"She was able to get to the rim and we definitely had a little difficulty stopping her," McKenna said.
McMahon, in turn, had little success stopping McKenna. The Mustangs patiently worked the ball around the perimeter throughout the contest, ending many offensive sets with dump-in passes to the junior post player, who either connected from the floor (5 field goals) or drew fouls that sent her to the free throw line (9 of 10).
"We passed the ball around, were able to get some open shots, and our players were able to make them, so that was the difference," she said.
Warde led 14-12 at the end of one quarter, and the second quarter was equally close until the late sloppy play from McMahon. When McMahon's YasmineWalker connected for two points, the Senators trailed 27-25. But then the wheels came off, as several turnovers on their side of halfcourt handed Warde six easy points in the closing seconds of the half. A one-possession game had turned into an 8-point deficit with the crowd at its loudest.
The second half started auspiciously for McMahon as Croswell drove through the lane and was fouled. She made one of two free throws and the Senators were down by seven points.
"She's lightning quick," Danko said of the opposing point guard."She can go to the basket and she can finish. More importantly she knows how to set up her teammates. She has good court sense."
But McMahon was never able to get closer than seven points throughout the second half. Croswell scored early in the fourth quarter to close the deficit to seven points one final time, but Warde scored the next 6 points to push the margin to 13. Croswell fouled out soon after.
Fairfield Warde 57, McMahon 43
FAIRFIELD WARDE 5-3
Michele Treglia 1 3-3 5 Kenzie Burns 5 1-2 12 Mollie Kerrigan 0 1-4 1 Carley Strachan 1 0-2 2 Kaitlin McKenna 5 9-10 19 Rachel Maltz 0 2-4 2 Tiara Fountain 6 2-4 16 Sarah Cotto 0 0-0 0 Jacqui Lanese 0 0-0 0 Lejla Markovic 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 18-30 57
Kayla Croswell 5 8-11 18 Kim Duhart 0 1-2 1 Alleya Jenkins 0 0-0 0 Aleigh Fitzpatrick 2 0-0 4 Natalie Leslie 2 0-0 4 Yasmine Walker 2 0-0 4 Jazmine Taylor 3 1-2 8 Victoria Aguilar 1 0-1 3 Sabrina Rodriguez 0 1-2 1
FAIRFIELD WARDE 14 19 10 14 -- 57
MCMAHON 12 13 8 10 -- 43
3 pointers: FW -- Fountain 2, Burns; M -- Taylor, Aguilar
Fouled out: M--Croswell