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NU complete elims sweep, gain outright finals berth

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The National University showed depth and firepower in their final elimination round game in the UAAP Season 78 women’s basketball tournament to clip the De La Salle University, 81-74, and complete a 14-game sweep of the season, Sunday at the Blue Eagle Gym.

The Lady Bulldogs won their 30th straight game dating back to last season where they won the championship, and gained outright passage to the finals, where they will hold a thrice to beat advantage.

The Lady Archers rounded out their elimination round campaign with a 12-2 slate and shall have a twice to beat edge entering the stepladder Final Four.

Sam Paig surprised everybody after topscoring for National U, firing 18 points on an impeccable 6-for-8 from three-point area. Tin Abriam came off the bench to provide a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Baskets by Gemma Miranda opened a 14-7 NU lead in the first quarter, although the determined La Salle crew answered back with a 10-0 run to take a 17-14 lead.

Later in the second period, Snow Penaranda’s inside points pulled La Salle within 25-27, before Paig captured fire by hitting back to back treys, giving NU a 35-25 advantage.

Abriam and Janeth Sison added to the damage as NU outscored La Salle 25-14 in the second quarter to have a sizable 45-32 lead at halftime.

The onslaught continued for the defending champions as they opened the third frame on a 10-4 run. Paig and Abriam combined for 8 in the stretch, as the Lady Bulldogs increased the margin to its highest at 19, 55-36.

A Gupilan basket pushed the lead to 63-44 before three straight triples from Alyanna Ong, Ana Castillo, and Alyanna Vergara fired up the Lady Archers and brought the lead down to 63-53.

From there it was back and forth, with a coast to coast move by Ara Abaca pulling La Salle within only 64-71. But Shelley Gupilan answered with 5 straight points to restore order, 76-64 as NU finished strong.

Gupilan and Andrea Tongco added 24 points combined for NU, which played sans Afril Bernardino (coach’s decision).

Abaca paced the Lady Archers with an all-around effort of 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 assists. Castillo and Penaranda added 13 points apiece.

Camille Claro sprained her right ankle at the 3:44 mark of the third period and wouldn’t return for the Lady Archers. She finished with 6 points and 2 assists.

The Scores:
NU (81) – Paig 18, Abriam 14, Gupilan 12, Tongco 12, Miranda 9, Sison 7, Nabalan 4, Itesi 3, Animam 1, Antiquera 1.
DLSU (74) – Abaca 18, Castillo 13, Penaranda 13, Ong 11, Claro 6, Vergara 5, Dagdagan 3, Roxas 3, Revillosa 2, Vela 0, Gonzales 0, Figueroa 0.
Quarterscores: 20-18, 45-32, 67-57, 81-74.

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