Cruz finds range as FEU Tamaraws cool down erstwhile leaders NU Bulldogs
FEU guard Mike Tolomia drives against two NU Bulldogs defenders. Jerome Ascano

FAR Eastern University defeated National University, 71-62, on Saturday to climb to the third spot in the UAAP Season 77 men’s basketball tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The Tamaraws outscored the Bulldogs, 21-6, in the pivotal second period to run away with the victory over the erstwhile co-leaders, leaving Ateneo (5-1) all alone at the top of the standings.

FEU joined La Salle in third spot with a 4-2 win-loss slate as NU fell to 5-2.

“Actually, I think it was the most crucial game for us,” said a hoarse FEU coach Nash Racela. “Had we lost that game, we’ll be in the middle pack or in the bottom part.

"The players knew how important the game was. That is why from the beginning, the focus and effort were there.”

Carl Bryan Cruz finished with 16 points, while Achie Inigo and Mike Tolomia added 14 and 10 points respectively for the Tamaraws.

Joshua Alolino had 13 points for the Bulldogs, whose three-game winning streak was snapped.

The scores:

FEU (71) – Cruz 16, Inigo 14, Tolomia 10, Belo 9, Pogoy 6, Jose 6, Hargrove 5, Tamsi 5, Ru. Escoto 0, Dennison 0, Delfinado 0, Ugsang 0.

NU (62) – Alolino 13, Khobuntin 9, Javelona 8, Diputado 7, Betayene 7, Rosario 6, Neypes 6, Aroga 4, Atangan 2, Alejandro 0, Perez 0, Celda 0.

Quarterscores: 21-16; 42-22; 55-42; 71-62.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports