DARIEN — Down seven points at halftime, the Norwalk girls basketball team came into the second half with one thing on its mind.

Stifling defense.

The Bears held Darien to just one point in the third quarter, and paired with second-chance opportunities and timely late buckets Norwalk rode that defense to a 56-46 win over the Blue Wave in Darien on Tuesday.

“It was the inspiring halftime speech by their coach,” Norwalk coach Ricky Fuller joked of his team’s turnaround in the third quarter. “But seriously, I know what these girls can do when they put in another gear and I just wanted to see them do it for four quarters. So far this season we’ve done it for a half, but we haven’t put a full game together, and when they finally do and play like they did in the third it’s going to be very interesting.”

Early in the game Darien kept up with the formula that had it coming into Tuesday’s tilt at 2-0 — transition offense and a menacing presence down low.

Fueled by forward Katie Ramsay and her 10 first-half points, Darien was able to take a 31-24 lead into the half.

In the third, however, Ramsay (14 points) found herself in foul trouble and had to sit, opening the door for the Bears’ 12-1 third-quarter run.

“She’s a big weapon for us and she was a big reason why we had a lead at halftime,” Darien coach Steve Dunn said. “And that took away a big option for us on offense and took away a lot of our fast break points … you could see without her being in there, Norwalk started hurting us on the boards and started getting second and third shots, and you can’t give a team two or three chances.”

Norwalk (1-2) was able to connect thanks to its offensive rebounding creating multi-shot possessions.

With 3:30 left in the third Amanda Beckwith (six points) connected on a long 2-pointer to put her team within one, and two minutes later Ashley Wilson (14) hit a triple to give her team a 34-32 lead it would never relinquish.

In the fourth Darien was able to regain some offensive flow, but never got to within eight points as late layups from Norwalk’s Beckwith, Wilson and Ajsa Vega kept the game out of reach for the Blue Wave.

“That was really big,” Fuller said of Norwalk’s high-screen motion offense paying late dividends. “When you can get uncontested layups and girls can run to the basket and score — I told the girls it’s all about layups and foul shots — and if you can get the easy points you’ll be a successful team. They did that in the fourth quarter in crunch time.”

For the first time in the young season, an underclassmen-led Darien team showed its inexperience. Dunn, however, thinks his girls will be better for it.

“It definitely helps us,” the coach said. “We’re not happy we lost, and we really felt we should have and could have won that game, but we have a lot of inexperience. We’re young, and if this helps us and we learn from it and don’t make those mistakes again it’ll be worth it.”

aparelli@bcnnew.com @reportedbytheAP

NORWALK 56, DARIEN 4-6

NORWALK (1-2)

Amanda Beckwith 3 0-0 6 Ajsa Vega 2 4-5 8 Jackie Harris 2 0-1 4 Asiah Knight 6 2-3 14 Ashley Wilson 6 0-1 14 Tomeisha Barrett 0 2-4 2 Sanaa Boyd 2 1-2 6 Sarah St. Surin 1 0-0 2. Totals: 22 9-16 56.

DARIEN (1-2)

Ashley Humphrey 1 3-5 5 Gwen Dolce 0 2-2 2 Lindsay Dimonekas 2 2-2 7 Rachel Stabbie 0 0-2 0 Katie Ramsay 4 6-6 14 Christine Fiore 3 6-10 12 Hailey King 2 0-0 6. Totals: 10 19-27 46.

NORWALK 13 11 12 20—56

DARIEN 15 16 1 14—46

3-pointers: N—Wilson 2, St. Surin; D—Dimonekas, King 2.