Arizona State Falls to Cal, 62-46
Feb. 27, 2010
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - California clinched at least a share of its first conference title in 50 years by beating Arizona State 62-46 Saturday.
Patrick Christopher and Jamal Boykin scored 14 points each for the Golden Bears (20-9, 12-5 Pac-10), who went on a 18-2 run in the second half to break open a close game and coast to the title. The long-awaited celebration was on from there, with the students rushing the confetti-filled court as the buzzer sounded.
Cal hadn't won a conference title since winning its fourth straight in 1960 under coach Pete Newell, when it was the Pac-8 instead of the Pac-10. The Bears last went to the Rose Bowl following the 1958 season, giving fans little to celebrate in the school's two major sports for a half-century.
The Bears can clinch the outright championship by winning at Stanford next Saturday or if Arizona State loses one of its final two games. The Sun Devils (20-9, 10-6) need to sweep and have Cal lose to the Cardinal to share their first title since joining the conference in 1978-79.
While no team in the weak Pac-10 is assured of an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament, Cal improved its position for a bid if it does not win the conference tournament in Los Angeles next month. The Bears are assured of the top seed in the tournament because they swept ASU.
Cal hadn't been this close to a conference title since 1994, when Jason Kidd and Lamond Murray had the Bears in position to tie Arizona for the championship crown on the last day of the season before losing at Washington State. The atmosphere reflected that, with raucous Haas Pavilion being sold out for the first time all season.
The Bears gave the fans plenty to cheer about in the second half. Jorge Gutierrez started the key run when he flipped in a layup for a three-point play that gave Cal a 47-42 lead. Theo Robertson converted a three-point play of his own after an offensive rebound.
The four senior starters - Christopher, Boykin, Robertson and Jerome Randle - got a standing ovation when they were taken out in the final minute. They then went to cut down the nets. Robertson had 13 points and Randle scored only seven.
Shipp scored 14 points to lead Arizona State. The Sun Devils scored only two points in a span of more than 10 minutes to see their chances at the conference title and tournament bid take a serious hit. Victor Rudd's dunk with 31 seconds left ended the drought and provided the final margin in the loss.
It was an emotional day for the Bears, who honored the four senior starters and backup Nikola Knezevic before their final home games of their career.
The game was tight the entire first half with neither team leading by more than five points. Shipp, the brother of former Cal star Joe Shipp, scored eight straight points in one stretch to give the Sun Devils a five-point lead.
Randle, who missed five of his first six shots, made two baskets in the final 1:05 of the half to cut Arizona State's lead to 30-29 at the break.
Among the dignitaries on hand for the big game were former Cal point guard and current Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and former Cal linebacker Scott Fujita, who won the Super Bowl earlier this month with New Orleans.