The UST Growling Tigresses breezed past the Ateneo Lady Eagles, 80-68 ahead of the Final Four phase of the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball tournament on Saturday, Nov.18, at the Araneta Coliseum.
UST's Nikki Villasin filled in the starting role of Tacky Tacatac—who was out with flu—and scored a career-high 20 points, draining four three-pointers while Eka Soriano came out with a double-double scoring 14 points and dishing out 11 assists.
The match started in a low-scoring affair featuring a 10-6 start by Ateneo before the Tigresses cut it to a two-point lead by the Lady Eagles ending the period, 15-17.
UST fired a 12-2 run spearheaded by a Villasin basket from deep, 32-23 before she ended the half with a buzzer-beater from mid-range taking a six-point lead 39-33.
The Tigresses executed a huge 30-9 run starting from the latter part of the second period to extend their lead to 19 coming into the final period, 62-43.
Turnovers bugged Ateneo throughout the game, committing 30 turnovers with UST scoring 32 points off those errors.
“This team starts their offense through defense,” Coach Haydee Ong said in the post-game interview.
“Sabi ko lang nung halftime, we need to start our defensive pressure and that turned the ball over so many times for Ateneo,” she added.
The lead was retained throughout the finale until Ateneo retaliated with a 14-3 run as Ylyssa Eufamiano posted 10 points in the period alone.
But Ateneo's run fell short in the end as UST finished with a 12-point victory, 80-68.
Kacey Del Rosario scored 21 points and hauled up 11 boards to lead the Blue Eagles.
The UST Growling Tigresses will head to the final-four phase of the tournament and match up with the UP Lady Maroons with a twice-to-beat advantage following NU’s win over UP.