6:00 PM ET, February 18, 2006
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- With a little help from the underclassmen, Arizona State (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 15 AP) shook off a bad start and kept pace with Pac-10 leader Stanford with one weekend of play remaining.Kristen Kovesdy scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Sun Devils past California on Saturday afternoon 62-43 to win their school-record eighth consecutive conference game and their 21st straight at home.Jill Noe and Aubree Johnson added nine and eight points, respectively, for Arizona State (22-5, 13-4), who remain a half-game behind Stanford in the Pac-10 with one game left. The Sun Devils outrebounded the Bears 40-26."The No. 1 key was to control the boards, and for the most part, we did," said Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne. "We took away their inside game and we put the ball in the basket in the second half."California's Ashley Walker, who averages 12.9 points and 7.9 rebounds a game, had 11 points for the sixth-place Golden Bears (16-10, 8-8). She left the game for 3:45 in the second half when she collided with Arizona State's Jill Noe going for a loose ball and didn't score for more than 13 minutes until getting the last Bear basket in the final minute.Alexis Gray-Lawton added 10 points for the Bears, nearly five below her average and Devanei Hampton was held to eight points on 2-of-7 shooting and committed seven turnovers. Hampton leads all Pac-10 freshmen with a 15.5 point-per-game average and is a 46 percent field goal shooter.After a late first-half charge, the Sun Devils went on a 12-3 spurt to start the second half, opening up an 18-point lead. California never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.The Sun Devils overcame a 1-for-11 start in the first seven minutes against Cal, going on a 19-0 run -- sparked by reserve Kirsten Thompson's six straight points -- over five minutes near the end of half to take a 29-20 lead. Thompson and fellow freshman Briann January had 10 points during the run."They make up half the team," Johnson said of the freshmen. "They never have played like freshmen. They have played a lot of minutes and contributed every step of the way."California coach Joanne Boyle expressed disappointment."I don't understand why we can hold them to 10 points in 14 minutes and in six minutes give up 19 points," Boyle said. "I felt we quit as a team."Arizona State cut off California's path to the basket, forcing seven turnovers in the final 7:47 of the first half and scored 10 points off those miscues to erase an eight-point deficit."We had an inside game," Turner Thorne said. "We have not had that of late."The Sun Devils outscored the Bears 24-20 in the lane, although six of California's inside points came in the last 10 minutes with the game out of reach."Outside of the first five minutes, we did a great job of out-working them," Turner Thorne said. "They responded really well."The Sun Devils made 27 of 61 field goals in tying the second-best streak in school history with eight straight wins. The Sun Devils won nine in a row earlier in the season."The key was we gave up far too many shots in our paint," Johnson said. "But everybody helped out."The Sun Devils have won 10 of the last 13 meetings with the Bears.Cal beat Arizona State 66-64 on Jan. 19.
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