MANILA, Philippines -- Ending National University's (NU) historic winning streak is a massive achievement for the De La Salle University Lady Archers but they cannot stop there, head coach Cholo Villanueva said.
La Salle became the first team to beat the Lady Bulldogs since 2013 on Wednesday, when they outlasted NU, 61-57, in overtime in their second round meeting of UAAP Season 85. The Lady Bulldogs have won 108 straight games since 2014 but couldn't complete a comeback against the Lady Archers.
"Of course, it's an achievement for us. It's an achievement for the school, for the basketball program, especially the women's program. We've been working at this for so long," Villanueva said after the game.
The win was a full circle moment for the De La Salle women's basketball team. They were the last squad to beat NU, in Game 3 of the UAAP Season 76 finals in October 2013. Since then, the Lady Bulldogs have dominated the women's basketball scene, winning six straight UAAP championships.
To end that run of dominance, the Lady Archers needed to play "a perfect game," admitted Villanueva.
They got a 14-point, 19-rebound double-double from Fina Tchuido, and timely baskets from Lee Sario and Bettina Binaohan. They were close to ending the streak in regulation if not for a Mikka Cacho triple at the buzzer that knotted the count at 49.
Villanueva's squad showed great composure in recovering from that big shot, with Sario's three-pointer with four minutes to go giving them the lead for good.
"Playing a perfect game against a perfect team to win and [to] end 'yung streak, that's what you need to beat a perfect team like NU so we played perfectly," said Villanueva. "My girls played perfectly on offense and on defense."
Notably, La Salle limited the tandem of Camille Clarin and Kristine Cayabyab to just 14 combined points on a paltry 5-of-23 clip from the field. Cacho led NU with 12 points, but she also shot poorly and made just five of 14 shots.
"Their hearts were always there, they didn't want to give that win, even though we went into overtime. So our heart, our pride, our competitiveness went in there every possession," Villanueva said.
"That's why we were talking about it, just winning every quarter and eventually we won five quarters and we won the game," he added.
The result ensures that there will be a traditional Final 4 in UAAP women's basketball for the first time since Season 76, and that La Salle is one step closer towards securing a twice-to-beat advantage in the semis.
For Villanueva, they must be sure to build on this win. Stopping NU's streak is one thing, but the Lady Bulldogs are still defending champions and they remain favored to retain the crown.
"[It's] a big achievement for our women's basketball program, for stopping that streak. So, it's a big achievement pero we want one more achievement. We want to win the championship," he said.
"[This] was just one game that we wanted to win to get the twice-to-beat advantage. It was just part of the journey to get the championship in this year's UAAP," he also said. "So, we're happy for the first achievement, we're especially happy for this, another achievement, but again, we're not yet done, we want to win all the way."