ASU fans that stayed up to watch the end of the game against Cal will probably share a collective sigh of relief. After a game that ASU led by as many as 16 points, the Sun Devils lost the lead late, tied it and won in overtime.
It was a valiant effort by both teams and a very entertaining game to watch.
ASU jumped out early against the Bears, oddly enough without starting center Jordan Bachynsky, who drew two personal fouls in the first ninety seconds of the game. But the Sun Devils did not panic, nor did they miss a beat. With a smaller lineup, ASU played with great energy and tempo in every phase of the game. They were very active on defense and on the boards. They were aggressive on offense and knocked down 53% of their shots.
The up and down pace resulted in a 42-30 halftime lead for ASU.
But Cal was not finished. After an early 2nd half lead of 16 points, ASU began to struggle shooting the ball, while Cal found a rhythm. Cal’s Justin Cobbs beat his man off the dribble repeatedly and scored 18 points in the second half. Teammates David Kravish and Tyrone Wallace also heated up, while ASU only made 9 field goals in the half.
The result was a 3 point lead for Cal with 25 seconds remaining. But ASU’s Jermaine Marshall hit a game tying 3 pointer with 17 seconds left. Cal could not score on their last possession, leading to overtime.
In the extra period, Cal was clearly spent, physically and mentally. They could muster no offense and could not keep up with ASU. In the waning moments, as Cal desperately tried to foul and keep themselves in the game, the Sun Devils made most of their free throws to finally pull away for good.
This was a huge win for the Sun Devils. Conference wins on the road are priceless. They are especially valuable when you beat a good team. (This was Cal’s first home loss of the season) The victory puts ASU in the middle of a 3 game win streak going into Stanford on Saturday.
There will be arguments about how ASU should not have given up such a lead. Fair enough. But basketball is a game of runs. Peaks and valleys. It is unrealistic to expect an ASU team to go into Cal and beat them by 35. The Sun Devils were hammered by some questionable calls by the officials and managed to play the entire game with both of their big men in foul trouble early. And once again, ASU got great contributions off the bench from Gilling and Barnes.
Undoubtedly, coach Sendek will address mistakes that were made. But he does that after every game, whether they win or lose. A win is a win. ASU will take it and move on with their hopes of making the NCAA tournament. On to Stanford.