Cal knew that in order to get a much-needed win on Saturday, they had to get off to a good start against Arizona State. They jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first 11 minutes, with good defense and solid rebounding. Arizona State ended the first half on a 9-4 run to reduce the deficit to 8 points as they trailed 31-23.
The Bears looked good defensively in the first half as they had numerous second-chance points (14 points compared to ASU who had 2 points), which was a big deciding factor in the outcome of the game. They also outrebounded the Sun Devils 28-13 in the first half.
One bright spot for the Cal Bears is freshman guard, Allen Crabbe. Since the departure of Gary Franklin, Crabbe has stepped up significantly. He played all 20 minutes in the first half, and posted 8 points and 7 rebounds.
Arizona State was able to put together a couple runs in the second half, and eventually tied the game with about 12 minutes left, but that was the closest they would come. Cal would eventually stretch their lead to 47-40, but the Sun Devils would not give up. They were able to trim the lead to 3 points, with about 1 minute left in the game, and the ball in their hands. But then the next 50 seconds turned into a 3-point shootout for Arizona State, which could be a little questionable as to what their strategy was.
The Sun Devils took four 3-point attempts over 50 seconds to try to tie the game. After the first 3 attempts, they gained the rebound. The entire team ran around the 3-point line trying to find a shot. Cal was more than happy to give them a 2-point shot or layup, but ASU was not even looking at those opportunities. With plenty of time on the clock, they didn’t necessarily need a 3-pointer. They could’ve driven in for a layup, cut the lead to 1-point, and then fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass. Instead, they opted for a 3-pointer and missed on all four attempts. Cal grabbed the rebound and held on for the much-needed victory.
Cal improved their overall record to 8-7 and Pac-10 record to 1-2. Arizona State is also at 8-7 overall but have a 1-3 Pac-10 record. The Sun Devils obviously miss senior guard, Jamelle McMillan, who leads the Pac-10 in assists. He has not played in their last 2 games as he tries to recover from a groin injury.
Jorge Gutierrez had a career-high in points with 21, and Allen Crabbe had 17 points and 8 rebounds. Markhuri Sanders-Frison notched his 4th career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Ty Abbott led Arizona State with 18 points.
Cal now returns home for 2 games against Washington State (Thursday, Jan. 13) and Washington (Sunday, Jan. 16). Washington, currently ranked 23rd in the AP Poll, leads the Pac-10 with a conference record of 4-0, while Washington State is at 2-2.
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Written by Mike Cid