Second seed De La Salle University set a date with six-time defending champion National University in the UAAP Season 85 women’s basketball Finals after staving off third-ranked University of Santo Tomas in the rubber match, 74-69, Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
Game One of the best-of-three Finals between the Lady Archers and the Lady Bulldogs will be on Wednesday, 11 am, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
La Salle stopped the historic 108-game winning streak of NU last November 23 with a 61-57 stunner in overtime.
This is also the first Finals appearance for the Lady Archers since Season 79 where they bowed to the Lady Bulldogs.
“I’d like to give credit to UST they played one hell of a series against us but we were the better team this time around. We made the proper adjustments on what they are doing on their previous games,” said La Salle coach Cholo Villanueva, whose squad dropped Game One, 57-68, last November 30.
Down by seven with 2:14 left in the game, Joylyn Pangilinan and Rocel Dionisio willed the Growling Tigresses back to knot the game at 69 with 47 seconds to go.
But that would be the last UST would see the ball drop in the basket as Pangilinan, Tacky Tacatac, and Eka Soriano missed crucial field goals and free throw attempts.
On the other hand, Kreecie Binaohan first gave La Salle back the lead with two conversions from the line with 31.2 ticks left before Pangilinan and Tacatac missed their three-pointer and putback attempts, respectively.
Marga Jimenez then stretched the Lady Archers spread to three after splitting her freebies but the Growling Tigresses were still within one possession, 72-69.
Tacatac attempted another triple on the other end but to no avail but Soriano was there for the offensive rebound as she got fouled and was sent to the charity stripe. However, she flunked both – with the second she intentionally missed.
Lady Archer Lee Sario was then fouled but she missed both and got her own rebound that set the stage for Torres to finish the game with her two free throws with 3.2 seconds left.
Fina Niantcho Tchuido led La Salle with 18 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks, and two steals, while Binaohan added her own double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Senior Torres also delivered 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Lee Sario got 12 points, six rebounds, and four assists.
Agatha Bron paced UST with 13 points, while Soriano had 10 points, nine rebounds, six assists, and three steals but also committed six turnovers.
Only Pangilinan will not be around for the Growling Tigresses come Season 86.
The two squads split their elimination round matchups with UST taking the first round last October 5, 71-57, before La Salle bounced back on the 29th, 67-60.
La Salle 74 — Niantcho 18, Binaohan 17, Torres 16, Sario 12, Jimenez 5, Dalisay 3, Arciga 2, De La Paz 1, Camba 0, Ahmed 0, Espinas 0.
UST 69 — Bron 13, Soriano 10, Dionisio 9, Villasin 8, Tacatac 8, Pangilinan 8, Ambos 8, Serrano 3, Santos 2.
Quarterscores: 21-18, 38-34, 57-50, 74-69.