National University avoided an endgame collapse and salvaged an 85-79 overtime win over Far Eastern University in UAAP Season 82 Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Dave Ildefonso took on the scoring load for NU, dropping 27 points on 8-for-17 shooting to go along with 11 rebounds. Issa Gaye had 16 points and 10 rebounds and John Lloyd Clemente caught fire with 15 points, including four shots from beyond the arc.
The solid performances from NU's top guns were needed especially in the fourth quarter and overtime to avert what could have been another painful loss.
"We just came back to basics into this game," said NU coach Jamike Jarin, who once again brought his entire team in the postgame press conference. "What was the key, what was the formula? The formula was just basic believing, staying in level one. Going back to basics, you just follow instructions."
The Bulldogs were up by 18 points, 53-35, in the third quarter and enjoyed a 15-point advantage early in the fourth quarter. NU had complete control until the Tamaraws unleashed a furious 17-0 run. They forced turnovers and bad shots on the defensive end while catching fire on offense. Spearheaded by Alec Stockton and Royce Alforque, FEU was able to take the lead, 67-65, with two minutes left in regulation.
A triple from Ildefonso finally quelled the FEU rally. The two teams traded buckets in the waning moments of the fourth, including a huge 3-pointer from Clemente to give NU a two-point advantage before a basket from Barkely Eboña knotted the game once again. JV Gallego had a chance to win the game in regulation but missed at the buzzer.
In the extra session, the Bulldogs blitz their opponent and went on an 8-0 run. Ildefonso continued his strong performance until the overtime period, scoring six points, and leading his team to victory.
"We hope it could have ended in the fourth quarter but the game went to overtime," said Ildefonso in Filipino. "We'll take this as a lesson learned that we shouldn't relax."
Eboña led FEU with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Alforque and Wendell Comboy had 11 points apiece in the loss.
The Bulldogs improved to a 2-7 record, while the Tamaraws suffered their fifth loss in nine outings.
NU 85 -- D. Ildefonso 27, Gaye 16, Clemente 15, Oczon 8, Gallego 5, Minerva 4, S. Ildefonso 3, Galinato 2, Malonzo 2, Rangel 2, Yu 1, Diputado 0, Joson 0, Mangayao 0, Tibayan 0.
FEU 79 -- Ebona 15, Alforque 11, Comboy 11, Stockton 9, Tchuente 9, Torres 9, Tuffin 7, Gonzales 6, Bienes 2, Cani 0, Nunag 0.
Quarters: 15-13, 39-32, 62-47, 71-71, 85-79.
NU's two wins this season were both against FEU. The Bulldogs, however, are 0-7 versus the rest of the league.
The Tamaraws outscored the Bulldogs, 24-9, in the fourth quarter, but could not sustain their momentum in overtime.
NU - October 12 vs Adamson at MOA Arena
FEU - October 13 vs UST at MOA Arena