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NU belles roll to 12th straight

She was huge right from the moment she entered the court. She had the energy. She had the will, Mikka Cacho, being the captain of this team. She led us toward that comeback.

Undefeated defending champion National University secured a Final Four twice-to-beat advantage after crushing University of Santo Tomas, 87-64, for its 12th straight win in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s basketball tournament at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion yesterday.

The seven-peat-seeking Lady Bulldogs rode a 17-3 fourth-quarter avalanche to turn a four-point lead into a comfortable cushion on their way to collecting their 108th victory in a row.

Mikka Cacho made 25 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals to pace NU, which moved two wins away from an eight-straight Finals appearance.

“When (Cacho) came in, she gave the spark for our team to really bounce back in the game,” said Lady Bulldogs coach Aris Dimaunahan.

“She was huge right from the moment she entered the court. She had the energy. She had the will, Mikka Cacho, being the captain of this team. She led us toward that comeback.”

Meanwhile, Ateneo de Manila University eliminated Far Eastern University from semis contention with a 67-50 win in the first game.

The Blue Eagles snapped a three-game slide to improve to 6-6 while the Lady Tamaraws absorbed their 10th loss in 12 games.

Sarah Makanjuola led Ateneo with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks while Junize Calago got 15 markers.

FEU head coach Bert Flores was ejected at the 6:09 mark of the final period after continuously complaining about a non-call.

NU saw its lead trimmed to 62-58 after Tacky Tacatac scored on a layup with 8:20 to go. The Lady Bulldogs responded with a big counterattack capped by Camille Clarin’s basket that gave NU a 79-61 advantage in the last 3:46.
The Lady Bulldogs blew the game wide-open, 87-64, after Cacho scored four unanswered points with 1:26 left in the game.

Clarin contributed 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists while Ann Pingol and Tin Cayabyab produced 10 points each along with seven and five rebounds, respectively, for NU.

The Lady Bulldogs forced 20 turnovers from the Growling Tigresses, which led to 16 points. NU also had 24 fastbreak points to UST’s four.

“I thought we started this game very, very flat. Give credit also to UST for starting super strongly in this game,” Dimaunahan said. “But I have to give credit to our ladies for not folding up and stepping up to the challenge.”

UST saw its three-game winning streak snapped, sliding down to 9-3 card at third place.

Tacatac finished with 29 points, which came from 12-of-24 shooting from the field while Eka Soriano produced 11 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, and three steals for the Tigresses.

The Scores:
First game
Ateneo (67) — Makanjuola 22, Calago 15, Joson 13, Miranda 7, Eufemiano 6, De la Rosa 4, Cruza 0, Nieves 0, Villacruz 0.
FEU (50) — Aquino 10, Jumuad 9, Taguiam 8, Pacia 8, Go 7, De los Santos 4, Manguiat 2, Paras 2, Obien 0, Samonte 0, Lopez 0.
Quarters: 12-19, 33-27, 51-41, 67-50.

Second game
NU (87) — Cacho 25, Surada 14, Clarin 12, Pingol 10, Cayabyab 10, Canuto 8, Betanio 3, Fabruada 3, Tiky 2, Bartolo 0, Villareal 0, Solis 0, Ico 0, Dimaunahan 0, Barroquillo.
UST (64) — Tacatac 29, Soriano 11, Pangilinan 9, Villasin 5, Santos 4, Serrano 4, Dionisio 2, Bron 0, Ambos 0, Villapando 0, Araza 0.
Quarters: 30-18, 44-34, 60-53, 87-64.

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