ANTIPOLO - Far Eastern University secured at least a playoff to the Final Four after plowing through University of the East, 64-41, on Sunday in the UAAP Season 82 women's basketball tournament at Ynares Center.
Clare Castro led the rampage for the Lady Tamaraws, scoring 14 points, grabbing 12 rebounds, while also blocking two shots as they came out hot off the gates with a 19-6 start and never looked back.
So dominant was FEU's performance that the lead reached 32 points, 62-30, with a Castro bucket with 7:09 still left to play.
It was just the fitting gift for coach Bert Flores, who celebrated his 51st birthday with this victory that hiked the Lady Tamaraws' record to 8-6 to end the eliminations.
"Kailangan namin yan going to the Final Four. Pa-birthday na nila sa akin," said the mentor. "Sabi ko lang, don't give up dahil may chance pa tayo. Masyado na tayong down eh, so mabuhayan lang tayo at mabalik yung confidence nila, masaya na ako. Hindi pa tapos eh."
Fatima Quiapo topscored for FEU with 18 points, four assists, three rebounds and three steals, while Choy Bahuyan got 12 points, six boards, three dimes and two steals to halt its two-game losing streak.
The Lady Tamaraws can still finish in third spot if Adamson loses its last game against La Salle on Wednesday.
Joyce Terrinal had 10 points and six assists for UE, which dropped to a 1-12 card with their seventh straight defeat.
La Salle also stayed in the semis race after beating University of the Philippines, 73-49.
Lee Sario led the Lady Archers with 13 points and four rebounds, while Kent Pastrana added 11 points, two boards, and two steals in the victory to improve their standing to 7-6.
But the win didn't come on a breeze as La Salle found itself playing catchup early on after UP took an 11-2 opener.
"It's our own demons," noted coach Cholo Villanueva. "If we don't do the right habits and not have the right mindset, disastrous things can happen. Good thing is that they turned things around."
The Lady Archers did respond with a 13-0 blast to grab a 15-11 lead before slowly breaking away from the Lady Maroons.
La Salle eventually broke the floodgates with a 28-9 third quarter assault, where it tasted a 30-point lead, 62-32 late in the canto.
Nigerian center Maureen Okoli chipped in 10 points, nine rebounds and two assists for the Lady Archers, while Charmaine Torres got 10 points, seven steals, six dimes and five boards.
The win sets La Salle up to a crucial win-or-go home duel against Adamson on Wednesday, as it seeks to make a last ditch effort to make it to the Final Four.
"We worked so hard to get this opportunity that we are one win away from one of our goals," said Villanueva. "It will boil down to this one game. We need to give all that we got for this game."
Pat Pesquera paced the Lady Maroons (1-12) with 19 points and 11 rebounds in the loss.
FEU 64 - Quiapo 18, Castro 14, Bahuyan 12 Jumuad 8, Antiola 7, Mamaril 4, Delos Santos 1, Abat 0, Adriano 0, Bastatas 0, Pacia 0, Payadon 0, Vidal 0, Villanueva 0.
UE 41 - Terrinal 10, Ganade 9, Pedregosa 8, Cortizano 6, Cuadero 4, Ordas 4, Caraig 0, Fernandez 0, Nama 0.
Quarterscores: 19-6; 35-14; 50-29; 64-41.
La Salle 73 - Sario 13, Pastrana 11, Okoli 10, Torres 10, Dalisay 8, Revillosa 8, Quingco 4, Espinas 3, Jimenez 2, Malarde 2, Paraiso 2, Binaohan 0, Castillo 0, Jajurie 0.
UP 49 - Pesquera 19, Sanchez 11, Ordoveza 6, Hidalgo 5, Rivera 4, Gusilatar 3, Gonzales 1, De Leon 0, Lebico 0, Lucman 0, Taulava 0.
Quarterscores: 15-13; 34-25; 62-34; 73-49.