Villasin leads Growling Tigresses past Blue Eagles, boosts twice-to-beat bid

Nikki Villasin. Photo from UAAP Media

The UST Growling Tigresses secured a twice-to-beat advantage after trampling the Ateneo Blue Eagles, 80-68, to end the elimination round of the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, Nov. 18.

Tigress guard Nikki Villasin led all scorers with a career-best 20 points, fueled by four three-pointers, two rebounds and two assists.

“Even when things are not going my way, I have a good team. You know the bench has a really great energy and my coaches really motivate to bow in and just do better,” Villasin said during the postgame press conference.

The España-based squad refused to throw in the towel after closing the opening quarter with a two-point deficit, 17-15. 

Tigress guard Kent Pastrana opened the second frame with a three-pointer, setting the team’s momentum to take on the lead, 39-33.

In the third quarter, UST adjusted its offense with as much as a 23-point lead. Ylyssa Eufemiano led the Blue Eagles with a run to catch the Tigresses’ lead, but Ateneo was unable to chase down UST, 62-43.

The Tigresses had their groove in the final frame as Villasin sank triples. Blue Eagles Kacey dela Rosa and Junize Calago tried to score with their charities, but were unable to anchor the Tigresses’ play, 80-68.

“It’s a good feeling. It’s like hard work pays off. I just know that we train harder than any other team in the conference so to see it show is very rewarding,” Villasin said.

Reigning MVP Eka Soriano led UST with 14 points, four rebounds and 11 assists, while Pastrana contributed 12 markers, seven rebounds and three assists. 

Dela Rosa led Ateneo with 21 markers, 11 boards and 3 assists, while Eufemiano added 10 points.

UST secured a four-game winning streak and propelled an 11-3 record, while Ateneo absorbed its back-to-back losses and fell to an 8-6 slate. 

The UST Growling Tigresses will seek to continue their winning streak against the UP Fighting Maroons in the semifinals game next week. F

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