No sweep for Tigresses as Lady Bulldogs force a rubber match

Photo by Kristine Joy Diane Sarmiento/THE FLAME

It will be destiny versus dynasty in the rubber match.

THE NU Lady Bulldogs stunned the UST Growling Tigresses, 72-70, in Game 2 of the UAAP Season 86 women’s basketball finals on Sunday, keeping their title defense bid alive.

The Lady Bulldogs banked on their second-half run to outscore the Growling Tigresses at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, allowing them to compensate for their first-quarter deficit and force a decider.

UST started off strong with triples from co-captain Tacky Tacatac and Kent Pastrana who contributed a five-point lead in the opening salvo, 26-21.

The Lady Bulldogs responded by unleashing their defensive paw in the second frame, cutting UST’s advantage to two, 32-30. But Tigresses guards Tacatac and Tantoy Ferrer drained back-and-forth buckets to give the España-based squad a three-point lead, 43-40.

The Lady Bulldogs’ defensive strategy quickly turned into offense. They pulled off a 13-2 run in the third quarter, courtesy of Aloja Betanio and Marylene Solis’ three-pointers, allowing them to take the lead, 57-52.

UST tried to pick up the pace in the fourth quarter, but NU’s Camille Clarin and Karl Pingol amped up the Bustillos-based squad’s tempo with back-to-back layup points, 65-60.

Despite Pastrana and Ferrer securing their respective free throws with 17 seconds left, UST was unable to close the two-point lead as Pastrana missed the chance to make history with a championship-sealing triple.

As both teams prepare for the crucial game 3, UST head coach Haydee Ong shared that players’ health would be the focus of the two-day turnaround.

“Of course, it’s just two days. We all need to be healthy. We will focus on the rehabilitation and recovery of their body,” Ong said.

Mythical Five awardees Pastrana and Ferrer and sophomore Rocel Dionisio led UST’s offense, each tallying 15 points.

Clarin churned in 18 points, two rebounds and eight assists for NU, while Pingol and Princess Fabruada collected 14 and 13 markers, respectively.

UST and NU will battle for the crown on Dec. 6 at the Big Dome, with the former seeking to grab its 12th championship in the tournament. F Ayanna Dezyrein Zoleta

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