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Statement sent: Reigning champ NU wallops La Salle to open repeat bid

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Reigning UAAP women’s basketball champion National University sent a strong message to the rest of the league after jumpstarting their bid for back-to-back titles with a 90-78 walloping of De La Salle University Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

It took the Lady Bulldogs, which swept the Season 77 tournament last year, only a few minutes to find rhythm and overpower the Lady Archers.

A triple by Alyanna Vergara followed by fastbreak layups from her and Paulina Vela pulled the Lady Archers within 21-24 early in the second period.

But reigning MVP Afril Bernardino began to get involved offensively, attacking the basket numerous times to make it a sizable margin.

Bernardino scored 8 in a 17-4 stretch that made it 41-25 for NU although 7 unanswered from La Salle highlighted by Khaye Castillo’s 5 straight pulled the Taft squad to 32-41 entering the break.

Shelley Gupilan nailed three triples in the third quarter which opened the floodgates for the Lady Bulldogs as it transformed their halftime lead to an insurmountable 56-36 bubble.

As if the damage was not enough, NU closed the penultimate quarter behind its bench players, outscoring La Salle 16-10 to put away La Salle for good, 72-46.

NU struggled early when La Salle went to a full court press in the first period as the latter stayed within striking distance.

Bernardino led three NU players in double-digits with 15 points and added 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Gupilan finished with 11 points, 4 boards, and 6 assists.

The Lady Bulldogs shot 45 percent from three-point area, and controlled the rebounding battle 56-36. This included 29 offensive boards which led to 16 second chance points.

The Lady Archers drew strength from its transition game, scoring 22 fastbreak points. The team also forced 26 turnovers which led to 29 turnover points.

Castillo led La Salle with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists including three outside shots.

Scores:

NU (90) – Bernardino 15, Nabalan 12, Gupilan 11, Abriam 9, Paig 9, Tongco 7, Itesi 6, Antiquera 5, Animam 5, Miranda 4, Sison 3, Reyes 2, Harada 2, Riel 0, Del Carmen 0, Layug 0.

La Salle (78) – Castillo 15, Vergarra 14, Claro 13, Penaranda 13, Ong 9, Abaca 7, Roxas 5, Vela 2, Dagdagan 0, Gonzales 0, Oyao 0.

Quarterscores: 23-17, 41-32, 72-46, 90-78.

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