SEVEN out of seven.
Defending champion St. Clare College-Caloocan kept its poise under tremendous pressure to subdue beat Our Lady of Fatima University, 71-69, and complete a sweep of the elimination round of the NAASCU Season 18 basketball championships at the RTU gym in Mandaluyong.
Rojay Santos hit three of four free throws in the final 14 seconds and the Saints’ vaunted defense kept Phoenix in check in their final offensive to escape with their seventh straight win in Group A.
More importantly, the Caloocan City-based Saints of NAASCU founding president Dr. Ernesto Jay Adalem and multi-titled coach Jino Manansala clinched top seed and earned an outright quarterfinals berth with twice-to-beat advantage.
Junjie Hallare finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds despite playing limited minutes for the Saints, who added the Phoenix to their growing list of victims.
Santos added 12 points and import Mohamed Pare contributed 10 points while leading another solid defensive effort by the Saints.
It was also the Saints’ defense in the closing seconds that forced Miguel Cabrera of Fatima to miss a potential game-winning shot.
Evardo carried the fight for the Phoenix with 21 points, followed by Cabrera with 15.
Before beating Fatima, St. Clare also won over Enderun Colleges (96-72), Philippine Merchant Marine School (81-76 ), Holy Angel University (119-60). National Teachers College (133-57), Rizal Technological University (83-59) and City University of Pasay (99-56).
The seven-game winning streak also produced a whopping 37 points average winning margin for the Saints -- easily one of the biggest in the 18-year history of the league..
The 76-point winning by St. Clare over NTC is also considered as one of the biggest in collegiate basketball in recent years.
Earlier, St. Clare asserted its mastery over Fatima, 64-56, in the junior division.
Stephen Catacutan and Cedrick Mwamba provided the spark in the Baby Saints’ lopsided triumph.
Catacutan fired 21 points on 9-of-19 shooting, while Mwamba added 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Baby Saints, who led by as many as 19 points.
Niko Panganiban had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Fatima.
St. Clare (71) --Hallare 17, Santos 12, Pare 10, Fontanilla 8, Tecson 7, de Leon 5, Catura 4, Joven 4, Palencia 2, Decano 2, Rubio 0, Fuentes 0.
OLFU (69) --Evardo 21, Cabrera 15, Alarcon 8, Bacay 5, Essomba 4, Dalupang 4, de Vera 4, Sarona 3, Pastrana 3, Espiritu 2, Diosa 0, Diao 0.
Quarterscores: 15-18, 37-36, 58-57, 71-69.