Reigning champions De la Salle University Lady Archers narrowly edged the University of Santo Tomas Growling Tigresses, 56-50 to kick-off their Season 77 campaign. Last year’s Finals Most Valuable Player Trisha Piatos scored 23 points and bagged 5 rebounds to give La Salle the win after four hotly contested quarters.
The last game of the women’s tourney’s opening saw a tight contest between the team from Taft Avenue and the team from España before La Salle, led by Piatos, pulled away in the third quarter to outscore UST 18-9 and close out the third period with a 41-33 lead, the biggest since the start of the game. The final period saw both teams trade fouls and UST slowly but steadily chip away at La Salle’s lead, led by Sofia Felisarte and Kim Reyes. However, the Growling Tigresses failed to deliver at the free throw line, with Maica Cortes sinking only 4 of 11 free throw shots.
With La Salle leading 54-50 with less than two minutes remaining in the game, Grace Brilliantes failed to sink two free throws to close in on La Salle. The ensuing free-for-all for the rebound would lead to a jumpball won by La Salle. After a La Salle miss that led UST to retake possession of the ball, Brilliantes found herself with another opportunity to shorten La Salle’s lead after being fouled a second time, but failed to sink both free throw shots. Camille Claro would go on to sink two free throws in the last ten seconds after an intentional foul from UST to seal the win for the defending champions.
Kim Reyes led UST with 14 points and 6 rebounds, along with Lore Rivera who notched the first double-double of the women’s tourney with 11 points and 14 rebounds. The Green Archers join the Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles, the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, and the National University Lady Bulldogs in the winners’ column.