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NU belles register 53rd win

By Jerome Lagunzad

Games Saturday
(Smart-Araneta Coliseum)
8 a.m. – La Salle vs UST
10 a.m. – NU vs Ateneo

When it could not get anything going from the outside, three-time defending champion National University can always rely on its inside play.

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That’s precisely what the Lady Bulldogs proved yesterday when they manhandled the Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws, 71-48, to sustain their impressive win run in the UAAP Season 80 women’s basketball tourney at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Congolese center Rhena Itesi and Jack Animan came through with double-double performances while Ria Nabalan showed the way offensively with 15 points as NU asserted its full might over FEU in the final period.

The victory was the fifth straight this season – and 53rd overall since 2014 – for the pacesetting Lady Bulldogs, who limited the Lady Tamaraws to just six points while scoring 28 in the final 10 minutes.

The 6-foot-4 Itesi finished with 14 points and 14 rebounds while Animam hauled down 23 boards on top of 11 points to help NU overcome a horrendous 4-of-21 shooting from outside the arc.

“We had an awful shooting today,” lamented NU coach Pat Aquino. “Rhena and Jack did their jobs again but we have to make it a point to his shots from the outside so that the defense will loosen up the middle.”

Meanwhile, veteran guard Jhenn Angeles took up the cudgels in the stretch as University of Santo Tomas turned back Ateneo 71-65 and tightened its hold of the second spot.

Angeles fired away a team-high 20 points, nine of them coming in the payoff period where the Tigresses led by as many as 15 and forced several defensive stops to upend the Lady Eagles’ late rally.