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UOG OUSTS JUNIOR NATIONALS

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By Errol Alegre, Jr.

UOG’s April Schacher scores this pullup jumper over multiple Junior Nationals defenders. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The University of Guam women’s team went head-to-head with the Guam Junior Nationals at the UOG Field House Wednesday night during the final rounds of the 2012 FIBA Oceania Micronesian Basketball Tournament. Both teams came out hungry for a win but it was the University of Guam team that came out on top 58-55.

Both teams had trouble getting into a good offensive rhythm throughout the first half due to stellar defensive performances from both sides. However, the UOG team was able to end the half on a better note taking the lead with the score at 26-20.

“We fell behind early. We slowed the ball down a lot but we missed a lot of easy shots,” stated Guam Junior Nationals coach, Jon Lujan, on his team’s performance in the first half.

Junior Nationals Destiny Castro leaps high for the defensive rebound. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

To get things going in the third UOG’s Gemma Datuin sunk a trey that was followed by a short jumper by teammate, April Schacher, to put their team up 31-20. The Junior National’s downslide continued as they missed multiple easy layups on the offensive end, and let UOG capitalize on second chance points on the defensive end.

Behind good shooting from Schacher, UOG found themselves up by ten with four and a half minutes left in the quarter. However, their lead began to dwindle soon after when Junior Nationals’ Kara Guerrero and Destiny Castro went on a scoring tear. With Castro working inside for layups, Guerrero sinking multiple mid-range jumpers, and their entire offensive squad jetting down on fast breaks, the Junior Nationals were able to tie the game at 38 at the end of the third quarter.

UOG’s Datuin gave her team the lead once again off a short jumper early in the fourth. But the Junior Nationals were finally able to top their older opponents after a shot by Guerrero and a made free throw by teammate, Noelle Bautista, putting the score at 41-40. Nevertheless, UOG quickly gained a six-point advantage off two straight treys by Catherine Aguinde and Mae Ann Pajaro.

UOG’s Monica Dagsaan tries to get her shot over Junior Nationals’ defender Rayonna Quitugua. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

A few minutes after, UOG called a timeout leading 48-44 with six minutes left in the game. But to UOG’s dismay, it was the Junior Nationals who benefited from the break as they were able to take a 51-48 lead following a put-back by Castro, and two jump shots by Taylor Crisostomo. But it was the last lead the Junior Nationals would see, as the UOG team constantly scored off their numerous turnovers.

Down 58-55 with just seconds remaining on the clock, Junior Nationals’ Benavaente attempted a three to try to force the overtime. The ball popped in then out, and the buzzer eventually rang to give the UOG team the hard-fought win.

“I’m a post player so my game is pretty much inside. The guards open it up and I try to look inside. We’re all working together to get our shots all around the court,” stated Schacher who made use of her height and inside game to lead all scorers with 14 points.

“It was more of a team performance, we’re a pretty new team and we all just came together for this tournament. We got a bit nervous toward the end, but we held it together and managed to come out with the win,” she added.

Aiding in the win was Datuin, who chipped in 13 points, and Pajaro with ten points.

In the losing effort, Guerrero and Castro led the Junior Nationals with 12 and 11 points, respectively.

In other games:

Women’s Division

Guam Senior National def. Marshall Islands 70-20

Men’s Division

Guam Senior National def. Guam Junior National 66-48

Marshall Islands def.Yap 107-69

Palau def. Marshall Islands 81-73

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