Bears Top Arizona State in Defensive Battle, 67-59

Feb 2, 2002

BERKELEY, Calif. - With its usual tough defensive effort, California ground out a 67-59 victory over Arizona State Saturday night in Haas Pavilion to break a two-game losing streak.

With the win, the Bears improved to 15-5 overall and 6-4 in the Pac-10, while ASU fell to 11-9 and 4-7.

Cal got 13 points each from forward Amit Tamir and guard Ryan Forehan-Kelly. Senior center Solomon Hughes also played his best game since suffering a knee strain in early January, finishing with 11 points, four rebounds and two blocks.

Cal and ASU battled back and forth throughout the first half with five lead changes and 10 ties. Neither team lead by more than five points and the squads entered the locker room tied a 29-all at the break.

In the second half, the Bears took the lead for good at 39-37 on a Dennis Gates layup with 15:28 left. The advantage grew to eight points at 49-41 and reached a high of 10 points at 55-45 with 5:37 left in the game.

However, ASU chipped away and when Jason Braxton hit a three-pointer with 1:50 to go, the Sun Devils trailed by only a 58-55 count.

Tamir, though, followed with a short jumper and a pair of free throws to give the Bears some breathing room.

California head coach Ben Braun

General comments:
'We did it the old fashioned way tonight. You're not going to beat ASU the easy way. Our team got the ball to the basket a lot better tonight.'

'Solomon Hughes came back strong. It's great to see him back in the flow and competing. With his strong work ethic, he's going to just keep getting better and better.'

'I thought Amit Tamir stepped up today and really helped us out defensively. Amit made some big plays and showed some poise at both ends of the floor. Brian Wethers got on the glass and got some big defensive rebounds off the boards tonight.'

'We need to make a mission of eliminating our opponent's offensive rebounds. Every game we hold teams down on the o-glass, we play well. Boxing out is not about size, it's about effort.'

'Our fans were big for us down the stretch, as they always are.'

'There are no easy games. Oregon State is not going to be an easy game. This is a league where everyone is competing and nothing is an automatic. Nobody's going to just hand it to you.'

Arizona State head coach Rob Evans

General comments:
'We didn't shoot the ball as well as we needed to win the game. Give credit to Cal for playing great defense. We just weren't sharp tonight ... we had too many unforced errors and turnovers.'

'Both of us are good defensive teams, we knew it would be low scoring coming into the game. They did a good job in the zone in attacking the basket. We didn't have a lot of good looks inside so we had to shoot well from outside to win the game.'

On Tommy Smith>
'This wasn't one of Tommy's better basketball games. You're not going to be sharp every night and unfortunately tonight was one of those nights.'

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