Ateneo de Manila University took down archrival De La Salle University with a second half breakaway, 74-57, to remain as the last unbeaten team in the UAAP Season 84 men's basketball tournament, Saturday at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
This is the Blue Eagles' 30th straight victory, last tasting defeat back on October 10, 2018 -- a 63-60 loss to Far Eastern University.
Ahead by just one midway through the third, Ateneo then went on a 16-4 finishing kick, topped by Ange Kouame's buzzer-beating layup, to enter the fourth ahead by 13, 58-45.
The lead would increase to 16 after a freebie from BJ Andrade and Dave Ildefonso's layup, 61-45, with 6:50 to go.
The Green Archers tried to light a spark with five straight points from Schonny Winston and Kurt Lojera but 11 would be the closest they could get, 50-61.
“Tough game,” said Ateneo coach Tab Baldwin. “It was never comfortable until the end. The defense was solid in the game as was theirs.”
Kouame displayed his best performance this season with 16 points, 19 rebounds, and two blocks.
Ildefonso made 12 points and five rebounds, while Gian Mamuyac was locked in defensively with six steals to go with 11 points and six rebounds.
The Eagles stood alone at the top behind a 4-0 win-loss card while dealing the Archers their first defeat to fall to 3-1.
“I think both teams played themselves to a standstill. It was a great Ateneo-La Salle game. We are looking forward to NU this Tuesday. It doesn’t get easier," continued Baldwin.
Michael Phillips paced the Archers with 13 points and 10 rebounds but was quiet in the second half with just three points there.
Mark Nonoy and Evan Nelle combined for 22 points on a poor 7-of-23 shooting from the field.
DLSU will look to bounce back on Tuesday against University of Santo Tomas at 10 am.
Ateneo 74 - Kouame 16, Ildefonso 12, Mamuyac 11, Belangel 8, Tio 6, Koon 6, Chiu 6, Andrade 3, Verano 2, Padrigao 2, Lazaro 2.
DLSU 57 - Phillips M. 13, Nonoy 12, Nelle 10, Lojera 9, Winston 6, Baltazar 5, Nwankwo 2, Manuel 0, Austria 0, Phillips B. 0.
Quarterscores: 16-11, 35-32, 58-45, 74-57.
Dennis Lachica, Sportsmanila Photojournalist