And the streak continues. After dismantling a fourth quarter comeback from the upset-hungry Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, the National University Lady Bulldogs are up by one in the women’s basketball finals, after an 80-58 trampling of the Morayta-based squad.
The thrice-to-beat Lady Bulldogs’ finals campaign started on a rather sour note, after season MVP Afril Bernardino was sidelined immediately after cramping up at the start of the game. The Lady Tams would gain the chance to capitalize on the Lady Bulldogs’ top dog’s absence from the floor, but things would turn out differently. Led by Gemma Miranda and Shelley Gupilan, the Lady Bulldogs would dominate at both ends of the court, and would go on to close the first quarter with the 24-9 lead.
The Lady Bulldogs would go cold in the first three minutes of the second half, but the return of season MVP Bernardino would only signal the return of the Lady Bulldogs’ feared salvo. Bernardino would go on to score six points in the quarter to lead the Lady Bulldogs to a staggering 44-16 edge at halftime. The stats sheet would reveal a striking discrepancy: the Lady Bulldogs shot a remarkable 57.14% from the field, while holding the Lady Tams’ at a dismal 21.21%.
A step-back jumper from Kristine Abriam would put NU up by thirty, 46-16, in the first minute of the quarter. Momentum would however turn in favor of FEU, with Jacqueline Tanaman leading an 8-0 run that would trim the lead to 28-49 by the halfway point of the quarter. Though the resurgent FEU squad would manage to outscore the Lady Bulldogs by 23-16, the lead would stay with NU at the end of the third quarter, 60-39.
Finally finding their feel of the ball, the Lady Tams would finally find a way to respond to the Lady Bulldogs’ show of force. Led by Jacqueline Tanaman, Claire Castro, and Anna Valenzona, the late FEU push would manage to trim the score to 58-76 late in the fourth quarter. But the rally would come too late, and the NU reserves would manage to push back the last-minute barrage. The NU bench would celebrate the end of the first game with 80-58 on the scoreboard.
Afril Bernardino and Gemma Miranda led the Lady Bulldogs with 12 points apiece, while bringing down 11 and 10 rebounds respectively. Shelley Gupilan and Krsitine Abriam chipped in 10 markers apiece. Jacqueline Tanaman and Claire Castro led the Lady Tams with 12 apiece.
The Lady Bulldogs need only to win on Saturday to grab their first women’s basketball trophy. The Lady Tams meanwhile need to win three straight games over the Lady Bulldogs, who finished the elimination round at 14-0.