MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The De La Salle Green Archers leaned on a huge first half to crush the University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons, 74-53, and march to their fourth straight victory in the UAAP Season 77 men's basketball tournament Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
Jeron Teng scored a season-high 25 points -- 20 of which came in a blistering first half -- to power the Green Archers, who now have a 4-2 win-loss record after opening their title defense with back-to-back losses.
Meanwhile, UP, who were playing without suspended head coach Rey Madrid, lost for the sixth straight time this season and its 27th straight game dating back to 2012.
"I think we are playing better," La Salle head coach Juno Sauler said after the game. "It's not because of the streak. I'm not looking at the wins, but generally, at how we're playing."
"We're playing better now than how we started the season," he added.
La Salle led by as much as 32 points, 47-15, with 2:24 to go in the second period when Teng fired a three-pointer. At that point, Teng had out-scored the Maroons by himself, 18-15.
Only a late scoring burst led by Kyles Lao and Dave Moralde allowed UP to trim the lead, but their defense left much to be desired as they allowed the Green Archers to shoot an astonishing 62.5% from the field in the first half. La Salle also out-rebounded UP, 29-13, after the first two quarters.
Teng had 20 points and eight rebounds in the first half, and his eight field goals matched the production of the entire UP squad. The Green Archers led the Maroons, 50-24, at the half.
"We came out better today, with our energy," said Sauler. "But we didn't finish with the same energy we had in the first half."
The Maroons played better in the third period, with last season's Rookie of the Year able to score inside points, while La Salle's offense slowed down from its frantic pace in the first half.
UP managed to bring the lead to 20 points, 44-64, following a Henry Asilum fastbreak basket with 6:16 to go in the contest. Almond Vosotros put an end to any thoughts of a comeback, however, as he nailed back-to-back three-pointers to make it 70-45.
"I thought we slacked a little bit in the end," Sauler said of his team, who finished the game shooting 45.9% from the field.
After UP took a 4-3 lead following a Mikee Reyes three-pointer, La Salle broke the game open, scoring 17 unanswered points to turn the one-point deficit into a 20-4 lead.
A variety of player contributed in the run, including Teng, Almond Vosotros and rookies Abu Tratter and Prince Rivero, who came off the bench to spell Norbert Torres and Jason Perkins.
The game got even more out of hand in the second period, with Teng at one point out-scoring the entire UP squad, 18-15, after hitting a three-pointer that made it 47-15 with 2:24 to go in the quarter.
Teng finished with a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds, while Vosotros had 15 points, six rebounds and five assists. Arnold Van Opstal did not suit up again for La Salle, but Norbert Torres returned after a one-game absence to score six points and grab 13 boards for the defending champions.
Lao was the only player in double-digits for UP with 13 points, and the Maroons were simply smothered by La Salle's defense as they shot only 23.75% from the field.
DLSU 74 - Teng 25, Vosotros 15, Perkins 6, Rivero 6, Torres 6, Tratter 6, Montalbo 5, Sargent 3, Andrada 2, Bolick 0, Mustre 0, Salem 0.
UP 53 - Lao 13, Moralde 8, Asilum 7, Reyes 6, Gallarza 6, Vito 6, Bederi 3, Harris 2, Amar 1, Gingerich 1, Lim 0, Juruena 0.
Quarter-scoring: 26-9, 50-24, 64-40, 74-53