Sun Devils Slip By Cal St.-Fullerton

Nov 24, 2003

By Brian Gomez,

Arizona State and Cal State Fullerton are known more for their baseball meetings than for their basketball matchups, so it was only appropriate that the Sun Devils resorted to help from their bullpen (bench) for a spark.

Buoyed by 31 points from their non-starters, nine of which came during a pivotal stretch late in the first half, ASU twisted Monday's non-conference game around like a second baseman turning a double play, and withstood a rally to beat Cal State Fullerton 83-76 in front of 8,199 at Wells Fargo Arena.

Senior swingman Jamal Hall paced the effort off the bench, scoring 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting from the field, including a 3-for-6 effort from three-point range. Freshman forward Wilfried Fameni added 11 points and senior forward Justin Allen grabbed a career-high six rebounds to complement sophomore forward Ike Diogu's game-high22 points and 14 from junior guard Steve Moore.

'We're going to get that effort from our bench because we're going to play these guys and we're going to get some experience for them,' Sun Devil head coach Rob Evans said. 'We just can't afford to lose basketball games doing it.'

ASU (2-0) had early success against Fullerton, even without many contributions from Diogu, but the Titans (0-2) came storming back and led by as many as five points. That's when the Sun Devils turned to their bench, kind of like the way a manager calls upon a relief pitcher.

For Evans, there were several worthy candidates to choose from.

Allen provided the initial spark by putting back freshman guard Tron Smith's miss. Hill then nailed a pair of three-pointers to direct attention away from Diogu, who capitalized with a bucket in a 17-2 run that gave ASU a 41-31 lead at the break.

'When I get my opportunity, I'm ready to go in there, whether it's one minute, 19 minutes or 40 minutes,' Allen said. 'I'm just going to go out there and try to play hard.'

In the second half, the Sun Devils picked up right where they left off, this time with help from their starters. Junior point guard Jason Braxton and Moore knocked down back-to-back three-pointers as ASU extended a 10-point cushion to 16 points with 17:10 remaining.

The Titans pulled within 80-76 with 11 seconds left, but Hill made one of two free throws and Diogu knocked down two straight to put the game away.

'We got the victory, but we don't feel too good about it because it was a lack of concentration toward the end,' Hill said. 'No matter what, you've got to still go out there and compete until the (opposing)team just totally breaks down. We had their backs against the wall, but we kind of let up.'

UP NEXT: After Thanksgiving, ASU returns to action at 1 p.m. Saturday against UC Riverside at Wells Fargo Arena. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and heard on ESPN Radio 860 AM.

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