Coming into the game with a chance to book their spot in the UAAP Season 85 Finals, the DLSU Lady Archers were unable to find their groove offensively as they fell to the UST Growling Tigresses, 68-57, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum earlier today, November 30.
In a losing effort, Charmine Torres spearheaded the attack for La Salle with 16 points and nine rebounds, while Fina Niantcho and Lee Sario both had double-doubles of 10 markers with 13 boards, and 10 points with 12 rebounds, respectively.
UST was fueled by their MVP frontrunner Eka Soriano who scored a game-high 23 points while grabbing 11 boards. Tacky Tacatac was aggressive, attacking the paint all game long and scoring 17 points. Lastly, Joylyn Pangilinan had 11 points, including three crucial makes from deep.
Keeping it close
The Growling Tigresses came out of the gates with a blazing start, forcing the Lady Archers into foul trouble early. They quickly gained a 4-0 lead off Tacatac’s three, but the Green and White utilized their size inside the paint to equalize the game, 4-all, early into the quarter. Led by ace player Soriano, the Tigresses took advantage of their opponent’s early foul trouble and quickened the pace to go on an 8-0 run, leading 12-4 early on. Paying back the favor, Sario and Luisa de la Paz forced the Tigresses to commit a string of fouls, leading to conversions at the stripe and cutting the lead to 12-9. Soriano continued to push the pace and converted on an inside look to halt La Salle’s run, 14-9. Sario then sank an open three to finish the quarter with her side in the lead, 14-12.
The Growling Tigresses took control of the second frame right away with two consecutive deep shots from Pangilinan and Soriano to open up an eight-point advantage. The team from España continued to pressure the Lady Archers with their full-court press, forcing turnovers that translated to easy layups for UST. La Salle answered back with a quick 6-0 run that cut the deficit to three, 23-20, at the 5:02 mark. Ultimately, the turning point of the second frame came after three straight missed layups from Marga Jimenez, Sario, and Niantcho, which would have left the Growling Tigresses a slim one-point lead with three minutes remaining in the opening half. The blown opportunity was immediately followed by a fiery 12-0 run by UST. The scoring spree was again led by Soriano who scored seven in the run, including an acrobatic shot just before the halftime buzzer as UST carried a 38-23 lead at halftime.
Trailing at the half, the Lady Archers used a pair of jumpers from Binaohan and Torres to cut the lead to 11, 38-27. Sticking to the game plan, the España-based squad used a 6-2 run to further cushion their lead, 44-29. The Taft-based squad was held afloat by several open looks, but the Tigresses’ mastery of the three-point shot and pick-and-roll spelled doom for the Lady Archers, as Pangilinan’s three capped off the third quarter, 53-37.
With a daunting mountain to climb, the Lady Archers were given a lifeline after the Growling Tigresses committed two straight offensive fouls. Arciga lit the fire for a last-ditch comeback by scoring four quick points. This was followed by a vital 6-0 run by La Salle that saw them cut the lead to eight, 55-47, with 4:59 left in the game. However, Tacatac and Pangilinan extinguished the Lady Archers’ fire with a floater and a shot from beyond the arc. The Taft-based squad had opportunities to reduce the deficit to further their chances of stealing the game but were undone by unforced errors, including violations and misplaced passes. UST held on to take the victory, 68-57, and forced a deciding game for a spot in the UAAP Season 85 Women’s Basketball Finals.
After their flat performance, the DLSU Lady Archers will look to bounce back as they face the UST Growling Tigresses in the win-or-go-home battle for a Finals berth.
UST 68 – Soriano 23, Tacatac 17, Pangilinan 11, Dionisio 7, Santos 3, Villasin 3, Serrano 3, Bron 1, Ambos 0, Araza 0
DLSU 57 – Torres 16, Niantcho 10, Sario 10, Binaohan 7, de la Paz 4, Arciga 4, Jimenez 2, Ahmed 2, Dalisay 2, Espinas 0
Quarter Scores: 12-14, 23-38, 37- 53, 57-68