By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE College of St. Benilde Blazers got back on the winning track in Season 94 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association on Tuesday after beating erstwhile streaking Emilio Aguinaldo College Generals, 84-71, at the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan City.
Losers of two straight matches heading into the game, the Taft-based Blazers made sure not to fall three in a row with a solid stand versus the Generals that had them turning to their defense to get the better of the latter on their way to the victory.
The match got off to a slow start with both teams trying to jockey for leverage and finding their offensive groove.
They eventually found their mark and a back-and-forth ensued.
EAC though would come out on top at the end of the opening quarter, 20-18.
St. Benilde then got it going to begin the second quarter, banking on its pressure defense to fuel its offense.
It went on a 12-1 run in the first five minutes of the frame to build a 30-21 advantage.
The Generals recovered its footing after, pulling to within four points, 30-26, with three minutes remaining in the period.
St. Benilde, however, was not to be denied of a strong finish to the first half as it raced to a 44-31 lead by the halftime break.
In the third period, the Blazers continued to hold sway even as the Generals tried to make up for lost ground.
Edward Nixon, Yankie Haruna and JJ Domingo conspired to keep St. Benilde ahead of EAC throughout.
When the quarter smoke cleared, the Blazers were holding a 61-49 lead entering the final 10 minutes of the game.
Sensing that the game was slipping from their hands, the Generals went to work early in the fourth period to inch their way back, behind Hamadou Laminou and Jerome Garcia.
But the Blazers kept finding ways to keep them at bay.
The count stood at 70-58 with six minutes remaining and St. Benilde on top.
Unfortunately for the Blazers they would see big man Clement Leutcheu leave the floor moments later after incurring his second technical foul over an unsportsmanlike play.
But St. Benilde would survive being a man down, showing unrelenting pressure on both ends which EAC could not match up with.
The Blazers were on top, 78-64, with 2:36 left on the clock and just held on from there to book the win.
Domingo led the Blazers with 22 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Haruna had 11 points while Leutcheu and Justin Gutang had nine points apiece for St. Benilde, which improved to 3-4 for the season with the win.
EAC (2-5), which saw its two-game winning streak come to an end, was paced by Jess Bautista with 17 points and 12 rebounds while Laminou had 13 points and 13 boards.
“It’s nice to get back to winning after two straight losses. Hopefully this builds momentum for us heading into our last two games to stay in the middle of the pack in the first round,” said St. Benilde coach TY Tang after their win.
St. Benilde returns to play on Aug. 17 against the Arellano Chiefs while EAC plays the Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers also on Friday.