Sun Devils Hand Cal First Conference Loss
By MEL REISNER
AP Sports Writer
TEMPE, Ariz. - Curtis Millage has been working on the little things, and it paid off big-time against California.
The Arizona State guard scored seven of his 21 points on free throws in the final 3:22 as the Sun Devils ended the 20th-ranked Golden Bears' best conference start in 46 years, beating them 75-70 Thursday night.
'We're always hearing, 'You've got to shoot free throws, you've got to work on your jump shot, stay healthy,'' he said. 'You go out there and do those little small things that help your team win.'
Millage missed the first three games of the season on an academic technicality, then scored 26 points in an overtime win over Utah his first game back despite missing four straight free throws in the closing minutes of regulation.
'Curtis really stepped up and made the free throws, considering that during his first game in Maui he really struggled from the line,' coach Rob Evans said.
Ike Diogu, a freshman who has scored in double digits each game, had 19 points and 13 rebounds for his second double-double.
Donnell Knight and Shawn Redhage added 10 points each for Arizona State (13-6, 5-3 Pac-10), which hadn't played since an eight-point loss at Arizona on Jan. 22.
'We're still tied for first place, but we know we've got work to do. You can kind of wipe this day away, but of course it's disappointing.'
Joe Shipp had 27 points and eight rebounds for the Bears (14-3, 7-1), who hadn't begun a league schedule as well since winning their first 10 in Pacific Coast Conference play in 1957.
'We haven't played on the road for a while,' Shipp said. 'We're a little rusty on the road. We got our feet wet tonight and got a loss, but that's OK. We're going to rebound tomorrow.'
He and Brian Wethers said Stanford's upset of No. 1 Arizona in Tucson helped take away the sting.
'We're still tied for first place, but we know we've got work to do,' Wethers said. 'You can kind of wipe this day away, but of course it's disappointing.'
Wethers had 18 points and Amit Tamir 14, but they couldn't keep Cal's eight-game winning streak - its longest in a decade - going.
The Sun Devils had just one basket in the final 6:24 but managed to hold on thanks to Millage, who made three straight after Shipp fouled him with 3:22 to go, and Diogu, who was 5-of-6 from the stripe in the stretch run.
Millage scored two fast-break baskets as Arizona State began the second half with an 8-0 run, taking a 38-34 on Diogu's layup with 15:59 left in the game. Cal, which led by as many as six points in the first half, never regained the lead.
'That was a key run for them,' Cal coach Ben Braun said. 'They got right back in it. It wasn't so much the run. It was how quick it was. You expect Arizona State to come out hard, but we wanted them to work a little harder.'
Shipp broke a 13-minute scoring drought with a three-point play 20 seconds later and added a free throw and a layup with 10:33 to play to pull his team to 49-48.
But Shipp missed two free throws with 8:57 to play, and Knight had a jumper and a three-point play in a 31-second span as the Sun Devils matched their biggest lead to that point, going ahead 55-48.
They led 63-54 after two free throws by Diogu with 4:14 remaining, but Wethers scored seven points in 56 seconds, and Shipp cut the deficit to 70-66 with a jumper with 1:21 to play before Millage had his last four free throws in the final 50 seconds.
Shipp had 10 points in the first 9:18 of the game, leading Cal to a 19-13 lead.
Arizona State's Kenny Crandall, inserted for his perimeter shooting, made a 3-pointer with 9:31 to play and three free throws with 5:27 left, starting and finishing a 15-4 run that carried the Sun Devils to a 28-23 lead.
But Cal's Gabriel Hughes had two putbacks and Tamir made a 3-pointer and two free throws in the final 2:52, sending the Bears to a 34-30 halftime lead.