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Still undefeated: Bulldogs survive stern Tigresses test for solo first

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National University was pushed to the limit by a determined University of Santo Tomas crew yet still came up as the dominant team in a 71-45 win Thursday in the UAAP Season 78 women’s basketball tournament at the Blue Eagle Gym.

In what could be one of many duels this year, the defending women’s basketball champions rose to the top of the team standings after picking their third straight victory while sending the Tigresses to a 2-1 card.

Teams came out trying to match each other’s intensity early on in what turned out to be a low-scoring, defensive-themed first few minutes.

UST prepared well for NU’s pressure defense and also shut down the interior as neither team seized momentum early on.

Five straight points from Misaela Larosa gave the Tigresses a 5-2 lead momentarily before back to back triples by Trixie Antiquera gave the Lady Bulldogs some breathing room after the first, 10-7.

NU tried to pull away in the second period as they found openings inside the paint, zooming to a 14-7 lead but baskets by Maica Cortes and a long range connection by Candice Magdaluyo again handed the lead to UST, 18-16.

The back and forth tussle continued in the second half until the Lady Bulldogs finally found a spark to jumpstart a huge run.

NU capitalized on UST’s 40 turnovers, running the break on the other end and finishing with easy baskets in transition to erect a 43-25 lead.

UST kept fighting however, going on a trap of their own as they nailed 10 straight points to cut the deficit down to only 35-44 heading into the final quarter.

But NU decided to go big after that point, going with a towering frontline of Rheena Itesi and Jack Danielle Animam. The two centers combined for the fourth frame’s first six points.

Triples by Shelley Gupilan and Sam Paig made it 57-36 as NU was able to put away what was one of their biggest tests early in the campaign.

Bernardino scored 12 points, hauled down 12 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists to lead the Lady Bulldogs while three others finished in double digits.

Larosa and Magdaluyo paced the Tigresses with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

The Scores:

NU (71) – Bernardino 12, Antiquera 11, Miranda 11, Paig 11, Gupilan 9, Itesi 7, Tongco 5, Animam 2, Harada 2, Reyes 1, Sison 0, Abriam 0, Nabalan 0, Riel 0, Layug 0.

UST (45) – Larosa 11, Magdaluyo 10, Cortes 8, Anies 4, Isanan 4, Felisarta 3, Peñaflor 2, Gandalla 2, Angeles 1, Brillante 0, Pernia 0, Capilit 0, Rivera 0, Portillo 0, Jerez 0.

Quarters: 10-7, 25-20, 44-35, 71-45.

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