COLLEGE of St. Benilde got its act together in the second half to send home Jose Rizal University reeling, 84-68, on Tuesday in the NCAA Season 94 men's basketball tournament at Filoil Flying V Centre in San Juan.
From a close 41-37 lead midway through the third quarter, the Blazers stepped on the gas pedal and used a 26-9 run to take a 67-46 advantage at the end of the frame, putting some semblance of normalcy to an otherwise surprising close first half affair.
Yankie Haruna captained the attack for St. Benilde with his 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.
The win helped the Blazers rise to 9-8 in the standings, with one final game slated on Tuesday against Final Four-bound Letran.
Clement Leutcheu had 17 points and 19 rebounds, Carlo Young contributed 13 points, four boards, two assists and two steals, while Justin Gutang had 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
"I thought we started out slow this game, but we were able to pick it up in the second half," remarked coach TY Tang.
"I've been telling them that whatever happens this season, we should end up with a win. We have two more games and we are hoping to win those games."
St. Benilde is on track for a fifth-place finish, but its fate could still change depending on the league's decision on four-seed Perpetual (11-6).
If the Mancom decides to reverse all of the Altas' wins this season, the Blazers would end as fourth seeds, ending what has been a 16-year playoff drought dating back to 2002.
"Whatever happens, we have to end our season strong and if we need two wins, we'll get those two wins. Hopefully, we continue growing as a team," said Tang.
MJ Dela Virgen topscored for the Heavy Bombers with 25 points, while Jed Mendoza and JR Aguilar both had 12 in the defeat.
JRU bowed out of the tournament at dead-last with its 3-15 card, the team's worst showing in coach Vergel Meneses' nine years at the helm.
St. Benilde 84 - Haruna 18, Leutcheu 17, Young 13, Gutang 12, Naboa 8, Dixon 7, Carlos 6, Velasco 2, Nayve 1, Belgica 0, Pagulayan 0.
JRU 68 - Dela Virgen 25, Mendoza 12, Aguilar 12, Estrella 6, Padua 5, Esguerra 4, Bordon 2, Ramos 2, Silvarez 0, Mallari 0, Santos 0, Miranda 0, David 0.
Quarterscores: 16-15; 35-32; 67-46;