ST. BENILDE stopped the bleeding with a 74-66 escape from a feisty Jose Rizal University squad on Friday in the NCAA Season 95 seniors basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
Without head coach TY Tang, the Blazers soldiered on canned crucial freebies to deny the Heavy Bombers of the upset.
Justin Gutang had 14 points, eight rebounds and two assists as St. Benilde ended its two-game losing streak and improved to 6-2.
"To be honest, we're really struggling and haven't been playing well, even sa practice. We're a bit demoralized and we needed to get some confidence back," said deputy coach Charles Tiu.
Shooting, however, remains as an eyesore for the Blazers as they only shot 39 percent from the field and 22 percent from deep.
"We're in control for the most part of the game, but we're still struggling to shoot the ball," said Tiu.
St. Benilde got on a bit of a groove as it scored 10 unasnwered points to turn a slim 48-46 lead to a 58-46 advantage with 6:05 to play.
Agem Miranda got JRU within five, 67-62, with 46.3 ticks left, but Gutang, Edward Dixon, Prince Carlos, and Yankie Haruna all were poise from the charity stripe in the clutch.
Carlo Young added 13 points for the Blazers, Dixon had 10 points, six rebounds, and three assists, and Haruna had nine.
The Heavy Bombers stumbled to back-to-back losses to end the first round, falling to 3-6.
Miranda paced JRU with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while John Amores had 14 points and five boards.
Marwin Dionisio also tallied a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds in the defeat.
ST. BENILDE 74 - Gutang 14, Young 13, Dixon 10, Haruna 9, Belgica 6, Naboa 5, Nayve 5, Leutcheu 4, Carlos 4, Flores 4, Sangco 0.
JRU 66 - Miranda 20, Amores 14, Dionisio 13, Delos Santos 6, Arenal 6, Aguilar 4, Dela Rosa 3, Jungco 0, Macatangay 0.
Quarterscores: 17-12; 28-29; 46-41; 74-66.