The middle of the pack in the UAAP Season 79 Women’s Basketball tournament is getting tighter by the day.
The University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigresses started off strong and bucked a late-game rally by the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws in a 65-61 win Saturday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“We are lucky that we had a win, because nung second half nag-collapse yung team,” a relieved Tigresses head coach Haydee Ong said after UST’s second win of the season. “Buti na lang up by 12 nung halftime. Yun yung lesson for today, hindi puwedeng less yung intensity.”
Up by 12 entering the second half, the Tigresses were able to continues its surge early in the third frame, going up by a game-high 17 points, 41-24, after a basket by Ann Gandalla, who finished the game with 13 points and seven rebounds.
With an imposing lead, the intensity of the Espana-based lady cagers slowly faded.
“We were playing not to lose nung second half,” Ong rued.
With UST holding a 54-40 lead after a Gandalla triple, her second of the game, the Lady Tamaraws went on a 14-2 rally powered by Maria Balleser. Balleser sparked the rally with two free throws and capped it after forcing a turnover on Misaela Larosa for a breakaway lay-up to cut the lead to just two, 56-54, with 2:06 remaining.
Needing to break the cold spell, Ruby Portilla and diminutive guard Loraine Capilit knocked down two triples to extend UST’s lead to six. Free throws by Shanda Anies sealed the win for UST.
“Yung instruction ko dun, hindi three points e pero buo yung loob nung bata at libre. Buti na lang pumasok,” Ong remarked about Capilit who is slowly gaining playing time under her system. “Medyo nagagamit ko na siya kasi she is practicing hard sa practices. Pinapalitan ko yung kumpiyansa ng bata through playing time.”
Anies added a double-double for UST with 15 points and 13 rebounds.
For FEU, Precious Arellado led the way with 19 points. Balleser finished with a double-double with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
The UST Growling Tigresses play its penultimate game of the first round on Wednesday, October 5 against the Adamson Lady Falcons at 8:00am. On the other hand, the FEU Lady Tamaraws face a tough task on the same day, facing the defending champions NU Lady Bulldogs at 10:00am.
UST (65) – Anies 15, Gandalla 13, Capilit 10, Larosa 6, Penaflor 5, Magdaluyo 5, Felisarta 4, Portillo 3, Rivera 2, Aujero 2, Angeles 0, Jerez 0.
FEU (61) – Arellado 19, Balleser 15, Ouano 14, Okunlola 6, Gerner 3, Ventura 2, Capua 2, Mamaril 0, Quiapo 0, Payadon 0, Jumuad 0, Bahuyan 0, Abat 0, Vidal 0.
Quarterscores: 14-12, 35-22, 51-40, 65-61.