Cal Comes Back Late to Nip Devils
Friday, February 4, 2011
Category: Sports > Winter > Basketball (Men's)
Thursday night featured devils, a fall and, ultimately, redemption. Only it wasn't a Bible passage - it was a Pac-10 basketball game.
Buried in one of his worst shooting performances of the season, Allen Crabbe rose up and drained the biggest shot of his young career - a right corner 3-pointer with 14 seconds left that clinched Cal's 66-62 victory over visiting Arizona State at Haas Pavilion.
"I knew it was down, the shot clock was at like two seconds. I just shot it," said Crabbe, who finished with 10 points on the night. "I was just telling myself, 'Keep shooting, one of them is going to have to fall before the night is over.' So I'm glad I made it there."
After nearly upsetting UCLA in Tempe, the Sun Devils hounded the Bears (13-9, 6-4 in the Pac-10) into their lowest output in seven games - and no one endured a more hellish evening than the freshman guard from Los Angeles.
Crabbe came into the showdown at Haas Pavilion on a tear, averaging 17.4 points over his last eight conference games. But he was stymied to just seven points on 1-of-9 shooting before his late-game heroics.
"It was just one of those nights," Crabbe said. "I wasn't moving around to get to the open areas like I should have."
In the final minute, whether or not he would connect again was up in the air.
With 1:02 remaining and Cal clinging to a 63-62 lead, Crabbe tried to find Jorge Gutierrez in the left corner. His pass found the Bears' bench instead.
But after Harper Kamp rejected the Sun Devils' Trent Lockett at the free throw line, he would get one more chance.
On the other end, Gutierrez managed to roll a pass to Crabbe while stumbling into the lane. His assist set up the shot that sealed the Bears' fourth straight conference victory and moved them to within a game of second place in the Pac-10.
"Obviously when you're the leading scorer and you're putting up the numbers (Crabbe) has, people are going to start defending you," Cal head coach Mike Montgomery said. "He was having a hard time getting shots, but he found a good time to hit one at the end.
"I think had not Jorge rolled the ball across the lane, they might have figured that they needed to defend him."
Lockett paced Arizona State with 18 on the evening, and it was Herb Sendek's club hitting the big-time 3-pointers to start.
The Sun Devils started off drilling three of their first four from beyond the arc, but were especially clutch in the second half. Trailing, 52-50, with under nine minutes to play, the Sun Devils (9-13, 1-9) retook the lead after consecutive open treys from Rihards Kuksiks, Jamelle McMillan and Ty Abbott.
Meanwhile, Arizona State's stingy zone defense was flat-out suffocating the Bears. With 7-footers Ruslan Pateev and Jordan Bachynski clogging the lane and wing players moving actively, the Sun Devils held Cal to just 26-percent shooting in the second half.
"We knew the zone was going to be hard to break, and we knew that they could shoot the ball as well. We needed to play harder," said Gutierrez, who led the Bears with 18 points on the night.
"When we got the stops we got confident and we started making shots."
That they did. And the final bucket came from the player who needed it most,
Ed Yevelev covers men's basketball. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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