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Bulldogs fall, but show they can play with best

 Notre Dame's Ammar Bacar rises up challenge shot Waukegan's  QuintDavis Waukegan Tuesday January 22 2013. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times

Notre Dame's Ammar Bacar rises up to challenge the shot of Waukegan's Quintin Davis in Waukegan on Tuesday, January 22, 2013. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 24, 2013 1:16AM

Matt Mooney scored a game-high 22 points, but it was a defensive play by the Notre Dame senior guard that preserved 17-2 Notre Dame’s 67-64 win over host Waukegan on Tuesday night in a non-conference boys basketball game.

Clinging to its three-point lead, Mooney picked off a pass with five seconds to go and dribbled out the clock, denying Waukegan a chance for a game-tying three-point basket.

The Bulldogs (10-8) had close to within 66-64 on a three-pointer by reserve Taylor Williams with 7.5 seconds left. A second later, Notre Dame’s Jake Maestranzi was fouled and made the first, but missed the second free throw. Waukegan rebounded, but Mooney stepped in and swiped the pass that ended it.

“They (Waukegan) made their run early and we made ours in the second half,” said Notre Dame coach Tom Les. “We played much better defensively in the second half. We got in the passing lane and made some steals.

“Down the stretch, we’ve got seniors and they played a tough schedule last year so they’ve been here before. They find ways to make plays down the stretch.”

Justin Halloran added 12 points for the winners.

Waukegan was led in scoring by junior center Jerome Davis with 14 points. Quinton Davis (no relation) finished with 13, including 11 in the second quarter, and Jordan Johnson scored a dozen.

In the first quarter, Waukegan played arguably its best ball of the season, taking a 16-10 lead over a team that had lost just twice in 18 games coming in.

In the second quarter, Quinton Davis scored 11 points to keep the home team up 36-33 at intermission. Notre Dame actually took an 18-16 lead early in the second period as it started the period with an 8-0 run. But led by Davis, Waukegan regrouped and reclaimed the slim margin.

Mooney, a 6-foot-4 senior, had 14 points for Notre Dame in the half, hitting 2-of-3 from long range.

Notre Dame took command of the game in the third quarter, going ahead for good at 43-42 with 3:40 to go. The Dons’ biggest lead was 52-42 late in the third quarter.

Next up for Waukegan is a Friday game at Evanston.

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