University of the Philippines closed in on a first round sweep in the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Tournament after scraping past De La Salle University, 65-61, on Wednesday at Adamson University Gym.
With their sixth straight win to start the season, the Fighting Maroons have achieved the school’s best start in the Final Four era, upstaging the Season 71 squad.
“We are happy that we won. The more that the season is coming to the close of the first round, the more we are learning and getting better. We are just glad that we are still winning,” said Fighting Maroons head coach Paul Ramos, who was the lead deputy of Eric Castro 15 years ago.
UP though needed to dig deep to get past a gritty La Salle squad.
The Lady Archers actually led 50-49 entering the final frame.
Filipino-French rookie Louna Ozar rallied the Fighting Maroons all by her lonesome, scoring the opening bucket before forcing La Salle to back-to-back turnovers that led to four more points for a 56-50 lead.
Though La Salle was able to chop the lead down to 60-58 with 2:08 left, Christie Bariquit powered her way on the post for a bucket while Kaye Pesquera knocked down a dagger trey seconds later to seal solo lead for UP.
“Confident po ako nun kasi open shot. Nagkaroon ako ng kumpyansa nun dahil sa teammates ko,” said Pesquera, a sophomore guard.
Ozar led the way for UP with 14 points, six assists, and four steals, while Marian Domingo also got 14 points to go with five rebounds, two steals, and two assists.
Bariquet and Rhea Sanchez chipped in nine apiece for UP, who now braces itself for a showdown with Ateneo de Manila on Saturday, still at the same San Marcelino venue.
Ann Mendoza led La Salle’s gallant stand with 15 points and six rebounds while Betina Binaohan and Luisa San Juan added 14 points each.
The Lady Archers, who fell to 1-5 for seventh, will close their first round campaign against University of the East also on Saturday.
UP 65 – Ozar 14, Domingo 14, Bariquit 9, Sanchez 9, Pesquera 7, Onoh 5, Maw 3, Jimenez 32, Tapawan 1, Vingno 1, Quinquinio 0, Godez 0, Lozada 0, Sauz 0.
DLSU 61 – Mendoza 15, Binaohan 14, San Juan 14, Sario 7, Dela Paz 5, Bojang 4, Dalisay 2, Delos Reyes 0, Paraiso 0, Villava-cua 0.
Quarterscores: 21-17, 38-36, 49-50, 65-61.