MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) University of Santo Tomas (UST) is still alive in the UAAP Season 85 women's basketball tournament, after claiming a 68-57 triumph over De La Salle University in their Final 4 game on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The No. 3 Tigresses were in a must-win situation against the Lady Archers, who were armed with a twice-to-beat advantage after finishing as the second seed at the end of the elimination round.
Haydee Ong's squad produced a quality response, with MVP-frontrunner Eka Soriano leading the way through a typically well-rounded performance. The veteran guard delivered 23 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, and two steals in 38 minutes to steer UST to a wire-to-wire victory.
With the result, the Tigresses forced a do-or-die game for the remaining spot in the UAAP Season 85 finals.
Six-time defending champion National University earlier advanced to the championship after eliminating fourth-seeded Ateneo de Manila University.
"We pulled through in this knockout game. It's a twice to beat for La Salle. Of course, we have to work harder now that La Salle is going back for the last ride to be in the finals," said UST coach Haydee Ong. "Sabi ko nga sa mga girls, the job is not yet over hanggang matapos namin ang La Salle ng dalawang beses going into the finals."
UST pulled away in the second quarter, ending the half on a 12-0 run after La Salle's Lee Sario had made it a three-point game, 26-23, with four minutes to go. Soriano responded with a three-pointer of her own, and the Tigresses went on to take a 38-23 lead at the break.
The Tigresses led by as much as 16 points, 47-31, off another three-pointer by Soriano with three minutes to go in the third period. La Salle cut the deficit to 10 points in the final quarter, but clutch hits from Tacky Tacatac and Joylyn Pangilinan kept them away.
Charmine Torres had 16 points and nine rebounds for La Salle, while Fina Tchuido (10 points, 13 rebounds) and Lee Sario (10 points, 12 boards) had double-doubles.
But the Lady Archers were undone by poor shooting; they made just 2-of-16 three-pointers in the game and went 13-of-23 at the line.
The do-or-die game for the last finals berth is on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
UST (68) - Soriano 23, Tacatac 17, Pangilinan 11, Dionisio 7, Santos 3, Villasin 3, Serrano 3, Bron 1, Ambos 0, Araza 0.
La Salle (57) - Torres 16, Niantcho Tchuido 10, Sario 10, Binaohan 7, De La Paz 4, Arciga 4, Jimenez 2, Ahmed 2, Dalisay 2, Espinas 0.
Quarter scores: 14-12, 38-23, 53-37, 68-57.