UAAP: Lady Archers suffer defeat in intense affair versus first-seeded Lady Bulldogs

The DLSU Lady Archers succumbed once again to reigning champions, NU Lady Bulldogs, with a 73-64 loss in their second-round matchup earlier today, November 8, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. The result brings La Salle’s elimination round record to fall to 4-7 for the tournament, putting pressure to secure a victory in all their succeeding games for a Final Four berth.

Ann Mendoza and Bernice Paraiso paved the way for the Lady Archers with identical statlines of 13 points and nine boards. Supplementing their tallies was Luisa de la Paz’s 10 markers, three assists, and five rebounds.

For the Lady Bulldogs, it was stalwart Jainaba Konateh who led the charge with a monster double-double of 17 points and 17 caroms—along with Marylene Solis and Gypsy Canuto controlling the wings with nine points and four assists, respectively.

Patience perseveres

Looking to replicate their historic record-breaking win against the mighty Lady Bulldogs in Season 85, the  Lady Archers were poised to triumph as they were two wins behind a Final Four spot heading into the game. Lee Sario opened DLSU’s scoring with a three-pointer right after Angelica Surada’s breakaway layup for NU.

It would be a back-and-forth affair up until the midway mark of the first quarter, with the duo of de la Paz and Bea de los Reyes pushing the pace thus far against the Canuto-Princess Fabruada NU tandem, putting the game at 7-all momentarily. After consecutive fastbreak lay-in’s from Luisa San Juan and NU’s Karl Pingol, a successful La Salle inbound play would find Arabel Bacierto open for a five-footer, giving the Green and White their first lead of the game, 11-9.

With Bacierto and Karl Pingol scoring again for their squads, Lady Bulldogs’ center Jainaba Konateh’s jumpshot would find the bottom of the net, making it a 13-all deadlock. A 10-0 NU run would then ensue, with Camille Clarin taking the edge back to NU with a steal to a lay-in at 15-13 then capped off by Konateh’s own five-footer to push their lead to 21-13. Paraiso would halt the NU run for DLSU and succeedingly score the final basket of the first period to keep DLSU within striking distance at 22-17.

Rhocel Bartolo would start the second quarter and spark off the bench for NU, scoring a floater and both her freebies to extend their lead to 26-17. As the Lady Bulldogs would get their points from the charity stripe, DLSU Head Coach Cholo Villanueva would call a timeout at the 7:19 mark to recalibrate the Taft-based squad’s defense. 

Right off the buzzer, looking to ignite a DLSU rally, Mendoza would find Kyla Sunga underneath for a lay-in. De la Paz followed this up with her own tightly-contested transition layup to cut NU’s lead to seven, 29-22.

As NU continued to lead, it was Paraiso’s rough defense and steadiness on offense that kept La Salle afloat. This led to an NU shot clock violation at the 3:40 mark, with de la Paz’s freebies putting them at just a six-point deficit, 27-33. With the rest of the quarter decided on the free throw line from both teams, DLSU stayed home with their gameplan—closing the first half still down by five, 39-34.

Missed opportunities 

It would be more of the same heading into the third quarter, as DLSU could not capitalize on NU’s mistakes even with the lead being one or two possessions away. De la Paz and de los Reyes would continue their leading ways for La Salle, as it sparked Paraiso and Betina Binaohan to follow suit, as the latter’s steal and breakaway lay-in trimmed NU’s edge to five, 46-41.

DLSU was then forced to another timeout in the 4:47 mark as Konateh would make her presence known with a putback. As the Green and White continued to put pressure on the defending champs, NU had to call a timeout at the 2:59 mark after Binaohan’s sidestep transition score, 51-46. The closing minutes of the third period would see NU’s Solis push her team’s lead further, coupled with Konateh’s stifling inside presence, as the third period came to a close with Paraiso going one for two from the line, 56-52.

Heading into the layover period, La Salle knew they had a chance for the winning fixture. Mendoza quickly converted a transition layup to bring it to just a two-point deficit, 56-54. Having too many weapons, however, NU’s Aloja Betanio immediately retaliated with a three-pointer. After a Bea Dalisay jumper for DLSU, NU’s Clarin sinked in her freebies—causing the Taft-based squad to call a timeout halfway through the quarter.

Keeping the game close for La Salle was Mendoza and Sunga, where the team was just one possession away from the lead. The Lady Bulldogs started to pull away, unfortunately, as a three-point lead steadily became a double-digit 11-point advantage with Pingol’s floater going off the glass for the dagger, 71-60.

With less than two minutes remaining, the Lady Archers tried their hardest to get the jump on their tough opponents. Even with de la Paz nailing a three-pointer, Surada would stop any chances of a Green and White run with her muscling her way to the cup for two. The final buzzer would sound to end the game with NU on top, 73-64.

Demoralized about the loss, DLSU Head Coach Villanueva looked back on the fixture to prepare for their next game. “We’ll be looking at film, seeing the mistakes we made and just want the win more against UP,” said the tenured coach who hopes to recover from a big blow to their Final Four hopes.

Meanwhile, Paraiso felt that the team could have gotten the win but just had untimely lapses. “Our defense was there. It was working until we had mental lapses and that’s on us to come back from,” shared the La Salle forward.

Looking ahead from the disheartening loss, the DLSU Lady Archers will fight to get back on the Final Four track against the red-hot UP Lady Maroons at 9 am on November 11 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. 

The Scores:

NU 73 – Konateh 17, Solis 9, Canuto 8, Pingol 8, Bartolo 8, Fabruada 7, Clarin 5, Betanio 5, Surada 4, Cayabyab 1, Ico 1, Berberabe 0, Talas 0

DLSU 64 – Mendoza 13, Paraiso 13, de la Paz 10, Sario 7, Binaohan 4, San Juan 4, Sunga 4, Bacierto 4, delos Reyes 3, Dalisay 2

Quarter Scores: 22-17, 39-34, 56-52, 73-64

Koby del Rosario

By Koby del Rosario

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