UAAP: NU on brink of 7-peat after Game 1 rout of La Salle

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2022 12:53 PM | Updated as of Dec 07 2022 01:59 PM

National U's Mikka Cacho (0) reacts to a play against La Salle in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 women's basketball Finals. UAAP Media.
National U's Mikka Cacho (0) reacts to a play against La Salle in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 women's basketball Finals. UAAP Media.

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) National University (NU) is on the cusp of winning a seventh consecutive UAAP women's championship, after an emphatic 93-61 victory over De La Salle University on Wednesday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum.

The Lady Bulldogs made a statement in Game 1 of the UAAP Season 85 women's basketball finals, pulling away in the second quarter and leading by as much as 33 points against the Lady Archers.

It was a vengeful result for NU, whose historic 108-game winning streak was snapped by La Salle last November 23, when the Lady Archers claimed a 61-57 overtime triumph. It marked the first time that the Lady Bulldogs tasted defeat since 2013.

"It's a short series," noted NU head coach Aris Dimaunahan. "We talked about it, in a short series, it's very important that you get the first one. That's the mindset for today's game, and I thought our ladies were up to the challenge of getting the win today."

NU gave La Salle no chance to repeat their upset on Wednesday. Mikka Cacho sparked a backbreaking 18-4 run bridging the first and second quarters that turned what had been a tight game into a comfortable lead for the Lady Bulldogs.

Gypsy Canuto capped that telling run with a three-pointer for a 33-18 NU lead, and the Lady Archers were never able to get the deficit back down to single digits. 

Cacho starred in Game 1 with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting, along with four rebounds and three assists in just 18 minutes. Rhocel Bartolo added 12 points, and Angel Surada had 10 points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes. The NU bench produced a whopping 56 points in the contest.

They also scored 32 points off La Salle's 21 turnovers, and had a 49-39 rebounding advantage. NU made 13 of their 39 three-pointers in the game, and limited the Lady Archers to just two makes from long distance. 

As a team, NU shot 50.7% from the field to La Salle's 32.3%. The Lady Bulldogs had a 45-14 advantage in perimeter points.

La Salle threatened midway through the fourth quarter when four free throws by Charmine Torres and a Lee Sario triple trimmed the deficit to 23 points, 79-56. But NU responded with six straight points, capped by an Angel Surada jumper, to restore order and the Lady Archers had no answer.

NU led by as much as 33 points, 90-57, off a Surada layup with 2:05 to play.

"This is something that we could be happy about but we cannot celebrate still because the job is not yet done. We have one game to go," said Dimaunahan.

Fina Niantcho Tchuido had 18 points and 15 rebounds for La Salle, while Torres finished with 14 points and Bettina Binaohan added 11 markers on top of eight boards and six assists. But Sario, one of the heroes of the second round upset of NU, was limited to nine points on just 4-of-15 shooting from the field. 

The Lady Bulldogs can clinch the UAAP Season 85 title on Sunday's Game 2 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The scores:

NU 93 -- Cacho 16, Bartolo 12, Surada 10, Clarin 8, Edimo Tiky 8, Cayabyab 7, Pingol 6, Villareal 6, Betanio 5, Solis 5, Fabruada 4, Canuto 3, Dimaunahan 3, Ico 0.

LA SALLE 61 -- Niantcho Tchuido 18, Torres 14, Binaohan 11, Sario 9, De La Paz 4, Jimenez 2, Ahmed 2, Arciga 1, Dalisay 0.

Quarters: 24-15, 46-32, 69-47, 93-61.

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