ANTIPOLO — National University flirted with disaster yet still pulled off a 74-70 victory over University of Santo Tomas to sustain its unbeaten run in the UAAP Season 82 women's basketball tournament Saturday at Ynares Center.
Kelli Hayes had her best game in a Lady Bulldogs uniform with 24 points, three rebounds and two assists as they improved to 11-0.
Jack Animam had 21 points, 11 boards, two assists, and two blocks for NU, which seemed poised to run away with the game after a 24-point second quarter allowed it to grab a 42-27 halftime lead.
Grace Irebu showed the way as UST cut the deficit to nine, 58-49, with 9:21 remaining.
Hayes, though, led a 14-3 run for the Lady Bulldogs to bring the lead back up to 20 points, 72-52 with 4:52 left to play.
But the Golden Tigresses just won't quit, with Irebu overpowering NU’s second unit and get to within four with 37.5 seconds remaining before forcing a huge stop in the ensuing possession.
That forced NU coach Pat Aquino to deploy his starters back in the game with 27.8 seconds left, leading to Ruby Portillo muffing two three-pointers as the UST fightback fell short.
"Sa akin lang, we need to finish the job all the time. Everyone who comes inside the court should do their jobs," said the mentor as NU extended its historic win streak to 91 straight games.
Portillo led the Golden Tigresses with 16 points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Irebu also tallied a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards for UST, which saw its seven-game winning run snapped. The Tigresses still remain in second with its 9-3 card.
Shen Callangan scored 10 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter as she went 4-of-9 from downtown, to go with seven assists, four rebounds and two steals.
In the second game, La Salle fanned its Final Four hopes as it cut Far Eastern University down to size, 63-47.
Kent Pastrana had 23 points, seven rebounds and four steals to lead the Lady Archers to their third straight win.
Chuchi Paraiso also joined the parade with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Nigerian center Maureen Okoli had seven points, 11 boards and three blocks.
"Credit to the girls because we're fighting for survival," said coach Cholo Villanueva. "The way they're playing, there's a sense of urgency and they'll do whatever they can to fight for that slot."
La Salle rose to 6-5, while dealing FEU its third loss in four outings for a 7-5 card.
With Pastrana leading the way, the Lady Archers jumped to a 31-22 halftime lead as they frustrated the Lady Tamaraws with their press.
The lead swelled to 28 points, 57-29, with a pair of Lee Sario freebies late in the third frame.
No one from FEU got to double-digits, with Lai Adriano topscoring for her side with nine points.
Clare Castro was limited to just seven points, while hauling down nine rebounds and rejecting three shots.
NU 74 - Hayes 24, Animam 21, Pingol 7, Clarin 5, Del Carmen 5, Cacho 4, Surada 4, Harada 2, Itesi 2, Bartolo 0, Cac 0, Canuto 0, Dimaunahan 0, Fabruada 0, Goto 0.
UST 70 - Portillo 16, Itesi 14, Callangan 13, Ferrer 8, Soriano 6, Gandalla 5, Panti 4, Javier 2, Tacatac 2, Rivera 0.
Quarterscores: 18-18; 42-27; 58-47; 74-70.
La Salle 63 - Pastrana 23, Paraiso 11, Okoli 7, Sario 7, Torres 6, Quingco 5, Revillosa 4, Binaohan 0, Castillo 0, Dalisay 0, Espinas 0, Jajurie 0, Jimenez 0, Malarde 0.
FEU 47 - Adriano 9, Bahuyan 8, Jumuad 8, Castro 7, Quiapo 7, Mamaril 6, Delos Santos 2, Abat 0, Antiola 0, Pacia 0, Payadon 0, Vidal 0.
Quarterscores: 16-14; 31-22; 57-29; 63-47.