FOR 3,335 days, six-time reigning champion National University Lady Bulldogs had roamed around the jungle unbothered, unrivaled and unscathed — until yesterday — after falling prey at the hands of a familiar hunter in the De La Salle Lady Archers.
De La Salle, NU’s last tormentor before a decade-long rule in the UAAP women’s basketball, repeated history and handed the latter its first loss in 109 games with a pulsating 61-57 overtime win at the UST Quadricentennial Pavilion in Manila.
The Lady Archers waited and hunted for the elusive chance for more than nine years before finally landing their arrows this Season 85 straight to the heart of the once invincible Lady Bulldogs, whose remarkable record of 108-game win streak came to an abrupt end at last.
Four Lady Archers scored in double figures led by Fina Niantcho Tchuido’s 14 points and 19 rebounds as De La Salle achieved the monumental feat seven seasons in the making since their last win in Season 76.
De La Salle on Oct. 5, 2013 became the last UAAP queens after trouncing NU in the winner-take-all Game 3 with a 69-61 victory. That was the last win for the rest of the UAAP teams against the powerhouse squad.
More than that, the second-running De La Salle improved to 11-2 to bolster its twice-to-beat hopes as NU slid to 12-1 — paving the way for a traditional Final Four format this time after a stepladder setting in the past six seasons due to NU’s continuous perfect campaigns.
“My girls just wanted it more,” said coach Cholo Villanueva, who took over the Lady Archers program in 2015 and has been a witness to the Lady Bulldogs’ impenetrable dynasty.
“You need the perfect players, the perfect rotation to beat a perfect team. It was a team effort. Credits to the girls for playing one heck of a game.”
De La Salle, with the help of Charmine Torres (13), Lee Sario (10) and Bettina Binaohan (10), put on a game for the ages built on a tight knit defense to limit NU to its lowest points this season at 57.
Up by 49-46 late in regulation, the Lady Archers fumbled a chance to seal the big win before Mmess. Torres and Sario steadied the ship in overtime punctuated by the latter’s insurance freebies in the last 43 seconds.
Ms. Cacho had 12 markers and 15 boards for the Lady Bulldogs, who fell just short in shattering the record of 111-game win streak set by University of Connecticut Huskies in the US NCAA women’s division.
Meanwhile, Ateneo (7-6) completed the Final Four picture in UAAP women’s play with a 65-51 win over UE (0-13) while No. 3 Santo Tomas (10-3) clobbered UP (5-8), 85-52, stay in running for a twice-to-beat bonus. — John Bryan Ulanday