MANILA, Philippines – The NU Lady Bulldogs completed another perfect season after capturing their sixth straight UAAP women’s basketball championship at the expense of the UST Growling Tigers.
NU swept the best-of-three finals series with a 66-54 win over UST in Game 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday, November 23, further extending its unprecedented winning streak to 96 games.
Monique del Carmen starred in the win with 15 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals, firing 7 first-quarter points as the Lady Bulldogs jumped to a 25-8 start before cruising in the final 3 periods.
UST trimmed its deficit to 8, 38-45, early in the final frame, but NU – despite missing former MVP Jack Animam to an injury – brandished its full strength and answered with a killer 18-2 run to seal the deal.
“I’m extremely happy with everything,” said NU coach Pat Aquino in a mix of Filipino and English. “I didn’t expect that we will have 6 titles in 6 years with no losses. We’re so happy for the school and the players.”
Del Carmen capped off her collegiate career with a Finals MVP to boot, Congolese center Rhena Itesi had 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 steals, while Kelli Hayes collected 9 points, 3 boards, and 2 steals.
Kaye Pingol also registered 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals, but she was not able to finish the game for the Lady Bulldogs after hurting her right shoulder.
NU dedicated the win to the graduating Animam, who remained in Auckland, New Zealand, after suffering an orbital fracture on her right eye.
Sam Harada also joined the list of graduating Lady Bulldogs, following the footsteps of Ria Nabalan and Jheanne Layug as players who suited up for 5 UAAP seasons without tasting a defeat.
UST leaned on Tantoy Ferrer, who had 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 steals.
Season MVP Grace Irebu also nabbed 11 points and 10 boards for the Growling Tigresses.
Ruby Portillo, Lon Rivera, Kikay Gandalla, Shen Callanga, Carolina Sangalang, Karla Manuel, and Josalyn Casiano all played their final game for UST.
NU 66 – Pingol 15, Del Carmen 15, Itesi 12, Hayes 9, Cacho 7, Canuto 3, Clarin 3, Surada 2, Bartolo 0, Cac 0, Fabruada 0, Goto 0, Harada 0.
UST 54 – Ferrer 16, Irebu 11, Portillo 7, Soriano 6, Panti 5, Tacatac 4, Callangan 3, Rivera 2, Gandalla 0, Gonzales 0, Javier 0.
Quarterscores: 25-8, 36-23, 46-36, 66-54.