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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Canuto hits game-winner to lift NU past Santo Tomas

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Maymay Canuto saved National University from the hands of defeat at the hands of archrival University of Santo Tomas.

Canuto, a fourth-year guard, nailed the game-winner with little time to spare, lifting defending champions Lady Bulldogs to a thrilling 77-76 victory over the Growling Tigresses to punch their ticket to the UAAP Season 86 Women’s Basketball Final Four on Sunday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

With her team down 75-76, the 24-year-old from Morong, Rizal made her only field goal of the game with 1.2 seconds left to win the game for the defending champions after desperate misses from her teammates.

Off a UST timeout, the Growling Tigresses failed to inbound the ball. UST waved the white flag afterward.

“That shot of Maymay Canuto doesn’t just happen today,” said coach Aris Dimaunahan. “She really works hard every single day. I’ve been seeing her really locked in. Nag-e-extra yan, getting shots out after practices. Yung tinanim niya as seeds in the last few months, napakinabangan namin ngayon.”

With the win, the Lady Bulldogs advanced to the Final Four for the ninth straight season while extending their streak to seven, with an average winning margin of 19.14 points, to raise their slate to 9-1.

“The endgame was a grind-out win for us,” said Dimaunahan. “I have to give credit to our players for really, really playing together and for each other out there until the final buzzer.”

The Lady Bulldogs, who were up by as much as 57-40 off an Aloja Betanio basket with 3:33 to go in the third quarter, let the Growling Tigresses threaten them with a comeback win in the payoff period.

Eka Soriano, Apple Maglupay, Tacky Tacatac, Rocel Dionisio, and Kent Pastrana’s five unanswered points gave UST a 72-69 edge with 12.5 seconds left.

Just when the Growling Tigresses looked like they were going to pull off the stunner, Tin Cayabyab stepped up for the Lady Bulldogs with a huge buzzer-beating three to send the game into extra time.

Come the overtime period, Tantoy Ferrer gave UST a slender 73-76 edge with less than two minutes remaining.

Angel Surada then converted two free throws to bring NU closer at 75-76 with 1:22 to go. Both teams then failed to nail a basket in their next possessions until Canuto’s dramatic game-winner.

Karl Pingol led NU with 21 points, seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals while Princess Fabruada and Cayabyab scored 11 points each.

Stef Berbarabe also contributed 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, and four steals while Gambian center Jainaba Konateh seized 16 rebounds along with eight points.

The Lady Bulldogs previously defeated the Growling Tigresses 76-64 in the first round last October 11.

NU will go for its eighth straight win when it takes on De La Salle University this Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Meanwhile, the Growling Tigresses fell to a 7-3 record. They went down to third place and are half a game behind University of the Philippines, which is playing Ateneo de Manila University as of this publishing.

Pastrana led UST with 16 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and two assists. Tacatac had 12 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and three assists while Soriano and Ferrer scored 11 points each for the Growling Tigresses.

UST will go up against University of the East this Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

The Scores:

NU (77) – Pingol 21, Fabruada 11, Cayabyab 11, Berberabe 10, Konateh 8, Surada 7, Clarin 5, Canuto 2, Betanio 2, Solis 0, Bartolo 0.

UST (76) – Pastrana 16, Tacatac 12, Soriano 11, Ferrer 11, Santos 8, Villasin 7, Maglupay 4, Bron 3, Dionisio 2, Serrano 2, Ly 0, Ambos 0, Danganan 0.

Quarterscores: 19-12, 39-34, 61-50, 72-72, 77-76

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