NORWALK -- McMahon overcame 13 first-half turnovers by shooting nearly 70 percent from the field over the same stretch, and the Senators continued shooting well in the second 16 minutes while cutting their turnovers and handily defeating Darien 52-41 Tuesday night.
McMahon (4-12) broke a three-game losing streak with the victory and now needs to win its remaining four games to reach eight victories and qualify for the state tournament. Darien fell to 3-12, and the Blue Wave also has to win out -- it has five games remaining -- to earn a bid to the postseason.
McMahon was 7-of-11 from the field in the first quarter, but only led 16-10, thanks largely to sloppy ball-handling. Larry McKinney (game-high 14 points) had eight points in the first quarter, and when Darien reacted by switching to a box-and-one defense, other teammates stepped up.
"Once they went box and one, (Delquon Howard) got open. He's a good shooter. He got hot," McKinney said.
Howard scored all eight of his points, including two 3-pointers, in the second quarter.
"A lot of it has to do with confidence. Delquon Howard hit a lot of big shots in the first half," McMahon coach Ken Dustin said.
And yet Darien was within striking distance at the half, trailing 30-21 at intermission, because of McMahon's numerous turnovers."
"We kept them around," Dustin said.
It could have been closer, but Darien wasn't able to fully capitalize on McMahon's miscues. McMahon was 13-for-19 from the floor in the opening half, while Darien struggled from the field (9-28).
"We weren't hitting shots, guys started losing a little bit of confidence," Darien coach Kyle Marian said. "We weren't getting to the rack as much as we would have liked to. We got stagnant, and that's been an issue where we have quarters where we get stuck in the mud."
Darien team was 4-10 from the field in the third quarter, while McMahon cooled off considerably, notching just two field goals on 11 attempts. But McMahon also cut down on its turnovers -- six in the second half -- and kept the Blue Wave at bay.
"When you're playing with a lead, you get a little anxious because the defense puts a lot of pressure on you," McKinney said. "You have to protect the ball better. Coach always yells at us to protect the ball better, make better passes."
Trailing 36-26 midway through the third quarter, Darien got two free throws from freshman Hudson Hamill and a bucket from junior George Phillips to cut the deficit to 6 points. But McMahon responded with a 3-pointer from senior Brandon Christie and the lead never fell below 7 points for the rest of the game. McMahon reached the bonus because of Darien fouls, and the Senators responded by shooting 7-9 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, at one point pushing the lead to 14 points.
"I've been preaching all season: Just because they're in a zone that doesn't mean we don't keep attacking like we can," Dustin said.
McMahon 52, Darien 41
George Phillips 1 2-2 4 Matt Staubi 2 0-0 4 Liam Naughton 3 0-0 7 Ames Murray 3 2-2 8 Henry Baldwin 2 0-2 4 Charlie Travers 1 0-0 2 Ian Burgoyne 3 2-5 8 Kyle Green 1 0-0 2 Hudson Hamill 0 2-2 2. Totals: 16 8-13 41
Larry McKinney 5 2-5 14 Delquon Howard 3 0-0 8 Andy Mitchell 4 1-2 9 Thomas Clyne 1 0-2 2 Justin Walker 0 0-0 0 Channing Thomas 1 0-2 2 Timothy Hinton Jr. 0 4-4 4 Brandon Christie 1 2-2 5 Kyle Jordan 2 2-4 6 Allen Lenard 1 0-0 2. Totals: 18 11-21 52
DARIEN 10 11 11 9--41
MCMAHON 16 14 9 13--52
Records: McMahon 4-12, Darien 3-12
3-point field goals: D--Liam Naughton, M--Larry McKinney 2. Delquon Howard 2, Brandon Christie