Boys Basketball: Notre Dame escapes Loyola1/13/12. Niles. Notre Dame's Eddie Serrano hits a three pointer over Loyola's Jack Richmond (31) and James Clarke (5) at the buzzer at the end of the first half. Loyola took on Notre Dame at Notre Dame High School. | Tracy Allen~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 13, 2012 9:46PM
Loyola junior Peter Pujals was driving to the basket, hoping to keep the Ramblers’ upset dreams alive against Notre Dame Friday in Niles.
He was trying to tie the score with 23 seconds to play, but it wasn’t to be.
Notre Dame junior Matt Mooney knocked the ball away to his teammate Donte Stephenson. The Dons drained three of four free throws from there on to seal a 50-45 win over Loyola.
“I saw him driving, he had the ball out in front of him and I took advantage and grabbed it,” Mooney said.
Loyola had another chance to tie after the steal, but Richie Wehman’s layup rimmed out with six seconds to play.
Sophomore Jack Morrissey had a breakout performance for Loyola, scoring 22 points on 6-for-8 shooting. He was 5-for-6 from three-point range, not missing one until
late in the fourth quarter.
“Jack Morrissey is a great player,” Loyola coach Tom Livatino said. “He has yet to scratch the surface. Our guys need to do a better job of getting him the ball. He should have more than eight shots.”
Stephenson led a balanced Dons effort with 10 points. Joe Ferrici scored eight and grabbed 10 rebounds. Mooney scored nine and Duante Stephens and Eddie Serrano each added seven for Notre Dame (13-4)
“Mooney’s steal was a big play,” Notre Dame coach Tom Les said. “I have to give Loyola a lot of credit, they played awfully well.”
Chris Sullivan and Pujals each scored six for the Ramblers (6-10), who lack a post presence.
“They don’t look too intimidating, that could have been an issue in the first half,” Mooney said. “So yeah, we probably took them a little lightly at the beginning. We can’t do that.”
Loyola led 24-20 at the half, but the Dons opened the third quarter with a 13-3 run to lead by six.
“We are getting better and I’m proud of our guys,” Livatino said. “Obviously when a team has a lot of bigs it’s a nightmare matchup for us.”