Sun Devils Defeated By Cal

March 2, 2003

By Brian Gomez,

BERKELEY, Calif. -- A different starting lineup and routine performances from its proven playmakers Sunday afternoon couldn't prevent the Sun Devil men's basketball team from falling into its longest losing streak of the season.

Senior forward Shawn Redhage and senior point guard Kyle Dodd both thrived in their new roles as starters, while freshman forward Ike Diogu and senior shooting guard Curtis Millage combined for 38 points -- usually adequate for Arizona State, but not quite enough against a team motivated by its final home appearance.

The Sun Devils sustained an 80-72 setback to No. 23-ranked California before a crowd of 11,877 at Haas Pavilion that dropped them into fifth place in the Pac-10.

'The game came down to just a couple possessions, and they did a good job on the offensive glass in the second half,' said ASU head coach Rob Evans, whose team allowed the Golden Bears to grab nine offensive rebounds after the break, which translated into nine second-chance points. 'The difference in the game was the fact that they got second shots in the second half.'

After suffering their third consecutive loss, the Sun Devils (17-10, 9-7 Pac-10) are now between a rock and a hard place heading into this weekend's season-ending homestand against the Oregon schools. They could regain control of fourth place with a sweep, coupled with an Oregon loss to top-ranked Arizona in Saturday's season finale for both schools, but even one defeat on their part would create a cloud of uncertainty heading into the Pac-10 Tournament.

'Guys just have to keep their heads up and go out there and compete,' said Millage, who had yet another steady outing Sunday with a team-high 20 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field. 'Oregon is coming off a sweep at their home against the LA schools, but we just have to protect our home court.'

Millage provided ASU with the spark it needed late in the second half after California (20-6, 13-4) had taken a five-point lead on the strength of sophomore center Amit Tamir's three-pointer over senior forward Tommy Smith. While knocking down a shot from beyond the arc, Millage drew contact from California freshman guard Richard Midgley and nailed the ensuing free throw for a rare four-point play.

'That play could have been a back-breaker, but we didn't let it hurt us,' California head coach Ben Braun said. 'Richard didn't want to get beat, but he was a little overanxious. We were just trying to contain, but he fouled Millage, put him on the line and stopped the clock.'

The Golden Bears responded well on their next trip up court during a crazy sequence in which Redhage was whistled for his fourth and fifth fouls. After being hand-checked by Redhage, California senior guard Brian Wethers missed the second of two attempts from the charity stripe, giving the Sun Devils a chance to escape with minimal damage.

But Midgley crept through the lane, corralled the loose ball and drew a foul that sent Redhage to the bench with 6:33 remaining. Midgley then sank a pair of free throws and senior forward Joe Shipp accounted for two of his game-high 21 points with a turnaround jumper over junior swingman Jamal Hill that gave the Golden Bears a 69-63 lead.

'Anytime you play, you want to be on the court,' said Redhage, who finished with 16 points on a 6-for-13 effort from the field in 33 minutes when starting in place of injured senior forward Donnell Knight. 'I felt like I still had more to offer to the team.'

The Sun Devils made one last push with five minutes left when Diogu sank two of four free throws, before Millage connected on the second of a pair from the line and tossed in a driving lay-up that cut the deficit to 72-68. But then Millage was whistled for a double dribble and Hill misfired on a three-pointer from the corner that would have brought ASU within one possession of tying the game.

Wethers delivered the game-breaking blow with 1:08 remaining when he buried a long jumper over Smith just before the shot clock expired.

'They fought pretty hard physically and they definitely threw their weight around,' said Wethers, who recorded 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the field. 'We knew we weren't going to blow them out, but we would have liked to have pulled away a little sooner. We had a couple turnovers here and there and their guys did so well in the post -- Redhage had a great night, Millage did his usual damage and Diogu is a beast down there -- and they're a tough team to deal with.'

The Sun Devils were down 40-38 at intermission, despite trailing by as many as 10 points midway through the first half. Diogu scored six of his 18 points during ASU's 11-2 run over a four-minute stretch that erased a 21-11 deficit.

Smith made his presence felt late in the first half shortly after the Golden Bears went on an 8-0 run anchored by treys from Wethers and Tamir, who was a school-record 5-for-5 from three-point range en route to a 20-point game. Smith drained a jumper on a pass from Hill and also put back his own miss in the low post to supply the bulk of a 7-0 run that brought the Sun Devils within two points with less than three minutes left before intermission.

ASU rattled off seven unanswered points in the opening minutes of the second half to take a three-point lead that lasted a mere two minutes. Millage hit athree-pointer from the wing and laid in a bucket off a steal, before Redhage added a lay-up. Diogu's free-throw line jumper on a pass from Dodd gave the Sun Devils a 48-46 advantage with 15:41 remaining, however, California got a basket from Shipp and a pair of free throws from Wethers to reclaim the leadfor good.

'It was my last time playing at Haas Pavilion,' Shipp said. 'I just wanted to go out on a good note.'

Dodd, who started in favor of sophomore point guard Jason Braxton, tallied five points and had a game-high six assists and only one turnover in 36 minutes. Smith finished with 10 points and five rebounds in 40 minutes.

As a team, the Sun Devils shot 48.1 percent (25-for-52) from inside the field and 41.7 percent (5-for-12) from three-point range, but they were 68 percent (17-for-25) at the charity stripe. ASU turned the ball over only nine times.

GAME NOTES: The Sun Devils hold a 30-25 lead in the all-time series...the Golden Bears have won five of the past six meetings between the schools, including the last three in Berkeley...Diogu had one old-fashioned three-point play to give him 26 on the season...Millage is 24-for-26 (92.3percent) from the free-throw line in his past five games...Redhage has scored in double figures in six of the last 10 games.

UP NEXT: The Sun Devils will return to action at 8:30 p.m. MST Thursday whenthey host Oregon at Wells Fargo Arena. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Netand it also can be heard locally on 860 AM.

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