Ateneo nipped University of Santo Tomas, 66-52, in a battle of attrition to continue its unbeaten run in the UAAP Season 82 men's basketball tournament Saturday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Thirdy Ravena captained the Blue Eagles with 17 points, nine rebounds, and two steals as they remained at the top of the standings at 8-0 and extended their win streak to 18 consecutive games.
SJ Belangel added 11 points on a 3-of-5 clip from downtown, alongside four boards, as Isaac Go nabbed eight points and three rebounds.
Defense dictated the tempo in this low-scoring affair which saw Ateneo hold the league's top offensive team UST, which is averaging 81.0 points per game, to a season-low 52-point production in a tough 28-percent field goal shooting.
That was the difference-maker in the payoff period as the Blue Eagles held off the Growling Tigers' numerous rallies, first staging an 8-0 run to hold a 50-37 lead with 7:15 on the clock, before they denied
Mark Nonoy's uprising that saw the lead trimmed down to six, 54-48, with a solid 10-2 tear that reinstated a 64-50 lead with 54.7 ticks left.
"All I can say is thank God for our defense," sighed coach Tab Baldwin after his side escaped another tough match-up against Aldin Ayo.
"That was a really tough, really physical game, too physical than the way it should be. They really make your life miserable and in the fourth quarter, they started making their shots."
UST leaned on the season-best performance of Nonoy, who tallied 18 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting as usual suspects like Rhenz Abando and Soulemane Chabi Yo found themselves caged.
The Growling Tigers fell to a 4-4 card after this second consecutive loss.
ADMU 66 -- Ravena 17, Belangel 11, Go 8, Ma. Nieto 6, Wong 6, Tio 5, Mi. Nieto 4, Navarro 3, Daves 2, Kouame 2, Mamuyac 2, Maagdenberg 0.
UST 52 -- Nonoy 18, Abando 7, Bataller 6, Chabi Yo 6, Concepcion 6, Subido 5, Ando 2, Cansino 2, Bordeos 0, Huang 0, Paraiso 0.
Quarterscores: 10-8, 26-17, 42-35, 66-52.