The National University Lady Bulldogs secured their twelfth straight win of the season after narrowly escaping a monster fourth quarter rally by cellar-dwellers University of the East Lady Warriors, 70-66, Wednesday morning at the Araneta Coliseum.
The first three quarters saw the two teams put each other to the gauntlet, clamping down defensively and exchanging fullcourt presses. A dismal second quarter by UE would give NU the means to close out the first half with a commanding 33-19 edge, after the Lady Warriors managed to put up a lowly six points.
The Lady Warriors’ offense would light up in the third quarter, with Ruthlaine Tacula and Eunique Chan finally pulling together to fire up the squad from Recto. However, the Lady Bulldogs would respond in kind, dominating the last three minutes. A buzzerbeateing jumper from Gemma Miranda would put the Lady Bulldogs back up 52-39 at the end of the quarter.
Momentum would shift in favor of UE in the fourth quarter, with Tacula exploding to lead a UE rally that would trim NU’s lead to single digits by the halfway mark of the quarter. With a worn-out NU unable to put a stop to the bleeding, a three-pointer by Tacula would cut the lead to 58-61with three minutes left on the clock. After another stop, Chery Joy Ano-os would narrow the gap to one point, 60-61 with 2:48 left on the clock.
The next few minutes saw UE’s Danice Llosala sink a breakaway three to force the deadlock, 65-65 with less than a minute remaining on the clock. After a UE foul, NU’s Cherry Gupilan would split a freethrow opportunity, but Kristine Abriam would grab the offensive rebound to put NU back up, 68-65. A freethrow basket by Chan would bring UE to 68-66, but with UE unable to get the necessary stops, two free throws from NU’s Afril Bernardino would put NU up by 70-66 with 15.4 left on the clock, securing the win for the Lady Bulldogs.
Bernardino led NU with 18 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals. UE’s lategame hero Tacula had 22 points, along with 5 rebounds and 8 assists.