The UST Growling Tigresses defend their title after besting the NU Lady Bulldogs in the UAAP Season 86 3x3 women’s basketball tournament finals at the Ayala Malls Manila Bay on Sunday, May 5. (Photo by Jana Francesca D. Yao/ The Varsitarian)

The UST Growling Tigresses clinched back-to-back championships after subduing their rivals, the National University Lady Bulldogs, 21-18, in the UAAP Season 86 3×3 women’s basketball tournament at Ayala Malls Manila Bay on Sunday, May 5.

For the first time since Season 80, NU has failed to win either the women’s 3×3 or 5×5 titles in a single season. The Growling Tigresses ended NU’s seven-year reign in 5×5 in December.

“Now na UST is on top, everybody’s on us naman,” head coach Haydee Ong told the Varsitarian. “Maaga pa. Back-to-back pa lang sa 3×3. Isa pa lang sa 5×5. We hope to have more for the program.”

Tigress Kent Pastrana lobbed it to Reynalyn Ferrer for a layup that gave UST a four-point lead with five minutes to go, 12-8.

Lady Bulldog Boni Solis managed to score three consecutive points, followed by Ann Pingol’s and-one layup, which led to two free throws, ultimately tying the game at 15-all. Pingol then made a layup to give NU a 17-16 lead.

Ferrer and Pastrana countered with a three-point shot and a layup, respectively, to give UST a 19-17 lead.

With less than a minute left, Pastrana secured an offensive rebound after her own missed shot and was fouled by NU’s Solis on a reverse layup attempt with 48.6 seconds remaining. Pastrana then made her free throws to successfully defend the title.

“I’m just really happy for the girls. It’s a hard-fought game. We lost to NU during the eliminations. We made some adjustments to our defense. It could have been anybody’s game,” Ong said.

Pastrana, who took home the Most Valuable Player award, paced UST with 11 points and eight rebounds in the Finals, while the graduating Ferrer added eight points and six boards.

UST concluded the elimination round with a 6-1 record, suffering their only defeat against NU in their final game.