THE UST Growling Tigresses crashed out of finals contention after yielding to the University of the East Lady Warriors, 62-69, in the UAAP Season 80 women’s basketball tournament stepladder semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena last Nov. 25.
UST finished the tournament at third place, an improvement from their fifth spot last year.
Trailing by nine points after the third, UE started the final frame on a 17-3 run to take a 64-59 lead with 1:30 to go.
UE clamped down on the Tigresses in the fourth and outscored UST in the period, 22-6. The Tigresses’ first points came with 4:23 left via Kikay Gandalla’s triple.
“We’re not getting the calls na tinatawag nila sa UE. They gave 35 freethrows against 19 sa amin,” UST head coach Haydee Ong said.
UE drained 26 of its 35 freethrows, including nine out of 15 freebies in the fourth quarter alone.
UST went 11-of-19 from the stripe.
Love Sto. Domingo led UE with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Eunique Chan and Joyce Francisco chipped in 16 and 14 markers, respectively. Larosa and Anjel Anies had 16 points apiece for UST.
For the past two seasons, the Tigresses fell short in playoff games and placed fifth in the rankings. But this time, Ong saw a huge improvement in her wards’ overall performance after finishing third place.
“I told the team [that] it’s a one hell of a season for us. It’s a great
run. And we will come back stronger next season,” the two-year tactician said.
UST will miss the services of Anies, team captain Jhenn Angeles, Tata Jerez, Marian Isanan and Bets Penaflor after exhausting their playing years.
Angeles was among the scoring leaders with 16 ppg (points per game) while Anies tallied 12 ppg.
With five players leaving, Ong said the team will be rebuilding next season and will start to scout new players.
As previously reported by the Varsitarian, rookies Tabitha Valera, daughter of former Growling Tiger Boy Valera, and 6’3” Congo-native Grace Irebu are expected to suit up for UST next year.
Should the one-year residency be applied, Irebu would be cleared to play for the Tigresses in Season 81.