ANTIPOLO -- Rhena Itesi bullied her way down low to steer National University (NU) to a 78-51 victory over Ateneo de Manila University, as the Lady Bulldogs stayed unbeaten in the UAAP Season 82 Women's Basketball Tournament Sunday at Ynares Center here.
The Congolese center dominated the paint with her 25 points, 21 rebounds, five blocks, and two assists to keep the Lady Bulldogs' famed winning streak going at 86 straight games now and stay unscathed in this campaign at 6-0.
"She's definitely big for us," said coach Pat Aquino of Itesi. "We've been training with Jack and Kelli out, and Rhena's gonna be the only big girl there. So we try to push her a little bit more."
Fil-Am forward Kelli Hayes added 11 points, four rebounds, and two assists, while Jack Animam had seven points, seven boards, and four dimes before the two left with Gilas Pilipinas women's team for the 2019 FIBA Women's Asia Cup in Bangalore, India.
Rookie Angel Surada also stepped up for NU with her double-double of 11 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, and two dimes, as Mikka Cacho got eight points and three boards in the win to make up for the absences of Kaye Pingol and Melody Cac.
The Lady Bulldogs had to play catchup after the Lady Eagles hit their treys in the first quarter and trailed, 19-16.
But with Itesi doing the dirty job down low, things soon stabilized for NU, zooming ahead, 33-29, at halftime before exploding for 26 points in the third to take a 20-point edge, 59-39.
The lead grew to as high as 30, 73-43, with a pair of Cacho freebies with 3:27 remaining in the game.
"Medyo slow start, unlike the past two games. Maybe it was because of the long road travelling here, and we had to really adjust because Ateneo started well," said Aquino. "It's a good thing some of the bigs stepped up, including Rhena, Kelli, and Jack. The thing is, we did what we want to do."
Kat Guytingco led Ateneo with 17 points and six rebounds, but she was the only one to notch double digits in scoring.
The Lady Eagles fell to their third straight defeat to drop to 2-3.
NU 78 -- Itesi 25, Hayes 11, Surada 11, Cacho 8, Animam 7, Bartolo 4, Clarin 4, Harada 4, Canuto 2, Fabruada 2, Del Carmen 0, Goto 0.
ATENEO 51 -- Guytingco 17, Chu 9, Yam 9, Villamor 6, Joson 4, Cancio 2, Moslares 2, Payac 2, De Dios 0, Newsome 0, Nimes 0, Villacruz 0.
Quarterscores: 16-19, 33-29, 59-39, 78-51.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.