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Lady Bulldogs make finals return

National University took out Ateneo de Manila University, 83-64, yesterday to secure its place in Season 85 University Athletic Association of the Philippines women’s basketball tournament at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

It will be the Lady Bulldogs’ eight straight appearance in the championships and the survivor of the battle between University of Santo Tomas and De La Salle will earn the right to vie for the coveted crown.

The Lady Archers had the chance to formalize a title duel with the Lady Bulldogs but the Lady Tigresses registered a 68-57 conquest over the twice-to-beat Taft-based team.

Trailing by 13 at the half, Sarah Makanjuola and LJ Miranda teamed up to pull the Blue Eagles within six at the 6:04 mark of the third frame, 54-48.

But Camille Clarin, Aloha Betanio, Tin Cayabyab, Annick Edimo Tiky, and Ann Pingol joined hands to restore a commanding 21-point lead for NU with 6:54 left in the game, 71-50.

“I have to give credit to our ladies for putting in the work. They just kept on fighting and stayed together,” Lady Bulldogs coach Aris Dimaunahan said.

Clarin made five triples on her way to 19 points with three rebounds and three assists, while Mikka Cacho got 15 points, 13 in the first half.

Edimo Tiky chipped in 10 points and six rebounds while Gypsy Canuto got eight points and 10 assists.

Kacey de la Rosa led the way for Ateneo with 22 points, 18 rebounds and seven shot blocks.

With the loss, Joson played her last game for Ateneo, which finished the tournament at fourth place.

In the UST-La Salle match, Erika Soriano also put up huge numbers of 23 points, 11 boards, five feeds an d two steals.

Staring at a 16-pouint deficit, 53-37, La Salle seniors Jho Arciga and Ameng Torres came alive and brought the Lady Archers back into contention, 55-47 with a little over five minutes to go.

But UST, sensing impending danger, turned to Tacky Tacatac, Brigette Santos and Joylyn Pangilinan to give the squad a stab at making the best-of-three finals.

“We pulled through this knockout game. We have to work harder now that La Salle is going back for the last time to be in the Finals,” Growling Tigresses head coach Haydee Ong said.

Tacatac added 17 points and three steals, while Pangilinan chimed in 11 points and four rebounds in the win.

Leading the way for La Salle was Torres with 16 points, nine rebounds, and four steals, while Fina Niantcho Tchuido got 10 points and 13 rebounds.

The rubber match will be on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:
First game
NU (83) — Clarin 19, Cacho 15, Edimo Tiky 10, Canuto 8, Cayabyab 8, Pingol 7, Bartolo 7, Fabruada 6, Betanio 3, Surada 0.
Ateneo (64) — De la Rosa 22, Joson 13, Calago 10, Makanjuola 7, Villacruz 6, Miranda 2, Eufemiano 2, Angala 2, Nieves 0, Fetalvero 0, Perez 0.
Quarters: 27-20, 52-39, 62-50, 83-64.

Second game
UST (68) — Soriano 23, Tacatac 17, Pangilinan 11, Dionisio 7, Santos 3, Villasin 3, Serrano 3, Bron 1, Ambos 0, Araza 0.
La Salle (57) — Torres 16, Niantcho Tchuido 10, Sario 10, Binaohan 7, De La Paz 4, Arciga 4, Jimenez 2, Ahmed 2, Dalisay 2, Espinas 0.
Quarters: 14-12, 38-23, 53-37, 68-57.

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