JUSTINE Baltazar delivered an eye-popping 25-25 game as La Salle blasted National University, 85-61, on Sunday in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament at Mall of Asia Arena.
The fourth-year center from Panpanga delivered 25 points and 25 rebounds to go with two blocks to help the Green Archers win back-to-back games for the first time this year.
La Salle improved to 4-4 to tie UST for third place after a win marred by an injury to super-sub Encho Serrano. The hard-luck Bulldogs fell to 1-7.
Baltazar and Jamie Malonzo combined in La Salle's early 26-9 onslaught and never let up to leave NU staring at a 24-point deficit, 63-39, at the 1:25 mark of the third frame.
The Bulldogs cut the deficit down to as low as 13, 65-52, with a John Lloyd Clemente layup with 7:18 left, but Aljun Melecio triggered the Green Archers' 16-2 run to restore the lead back up to 27, 81-54, with 2:26 remaining.
Malonzo contributed 12 points and five rebounds for the Green Archers while Andrei Caracut shot 3-of-4 from deep to nab 16 points to go with six rebounds, and five assists.
"We just wanted a different approach in the second round. It's just our mindset has to change heading to the second round," said coach Gian Nazario.
The win comes as a timely confidence boost for La Salle heading to Sunday's duel against defending champion Ateneo.
"It's just a good win for us especially heading to Sunday's game," said Nazario.
Dave Ildefonso led NU with 11 points, two rebounds, and one steal, as brother Shaun got 10 points and two boards in a losing cause.
LA SALLE 85 - Baltazar 25, Caracut 16, Malonzo 12, Lojera 9, Serrano 8, Melecio 6, Bates 4, Manuel 4, Hill 1, Bartlett 0, Escandor 0, Lim 0.
NU 61 - D. Ildefonso 11, S. Ildefonso 10, Diputado 8, Gallego 7, Clemente 5, Galinato 5, Gaye 5, Tibayan 3, Yu 3, Mangayao 2, Minerva 2, Joson 0, Malonzo 0, Oczon 0.
Quarters: 26-9, 44-24, 65-48, 85-61.