By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
After one decade, the National University (NU) Lady Bulldogs suffered its first UAAP women’s basketball tournament defeat.
The team that defeated them last 2013 during the UAAP grand finals also became the exact squad that broke their 108-game winning streak in a tightly-contested battle on November 23, 2022, held at the Quadricentennial Pavillion in Espana, Manila.
Streak-stoppers. That’s what the De La Salle University (DLSU) Lady Archers can call themselves after taking down the current queens of the UAAP women’s tourney in a thrilling overtime, 61-57.
Entering the matchup without a single defeat in 3,056 days, the Lady Bulldogs were expected to dominate once again but the Lady Archers showed heart and resiliency that kept them within striking distance.
Despite NU’s blazing offense, DLSU found a way to answer and match up with their defensive intensity led by Niantcho Tchuido who put up a solid outing on both ends of the floor.
The hardworking Lady Archer led DLSU with a fantastic double-double of 14 points and 19 rebounds including the crucial boards in the clutch stretch of the game.
DLSU had the chance to end the game in regulation after leading by three, 49-46, with 10.5 seconds left in the final frame.
However, the NU Bulldogs weathered the storm and found the veteran Mikka Cacho off a broken play who drained the game-tying three-pointer that forced another extra period.
It was then all DLSU in overtime as their balanced offensive attack continued to click and overwhelmed the Lady Bulldogs.
Lee Sario, Charmine Torres, and Tchuido led the Lady Archers in the last five minutes of the game and provided the much-needed points and defensive boards.
“You need the perfect players, the perfect rotation to beat a perfect team. Of course, this wasn’t just eight players, they are 16 players. Even 18 players in practices that’s why these eight players did their job. Because these 18-strong players were doing their jobs in preparation for this game. So, it was a team effort,” said DLSU head coach Cholo Villanueva.