8:30 PM ET, January 25, 2007
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- California (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today; No. 20 AP) had crept within four points of 10th-ranked Arizona State in the second half when Sun Devils coach Charli Turner Thorne barked at the officials, drawing a technical foul."I said 'Unbelievable,' " Turner Thorne said afterward, shrugging.It turned out to be the right word. After California star Ashley Walker hit a pair of free throws, the Sun Devils woke up and pulled away for a 66-54 victory on Thursday night. Arizona State (19-2, 9-1 Pac-10) outscored the Golden Bears 19-9 the rest of the way to earn its seventh straight win."The bottom line is, we needed a little fire in us," said Turner Thorne, who insisted she wasn't trying to get a technical. "I do think they locked in a little bit better from that point forward, which was great."Jill Noe scored a season-high 19 points, and Emily Westerberg added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Sun Devils, who won for the 34th time in 35 home games.The win sets up a showdown between ASU and No. 9 Stanford on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena."I think it's going to be a great, great contest between two of the best teams in the nation," said Turner Thorne, a Stanford graduate who is 4-19 against her alma mater. "The biggest challenge I have with our team, I just want to make sure we're out there enjoying it, because we've worked hard to position ourselves."The Cardinal beat ASU 77-71 on Dec. 30 in Palo Alto."It is a huge task to play someone of that caliber," Westerberg said. "It's going to show where we are."The Sun Devils had defeated Cal 74-58 in Berkeley on Dec. 28. They had vowed not to look past the Golden Bears, and they didn't.But the Sun Devils struggled to find offensive rhythm in their first full game without guard Dymond Simon, who is out for the season with a knee injury. Simon averaged 9.1 points per game and provided a spark off the bench."One thing that we wanted to make sure that we did going into this first official game without Dymond is just tell these guys that nobody really has to do a lot more," Turner Thorne said. "I really felt that maybe a few of our guards put a little extra pressure on themselves and didn't play as relaxed."ASU stayed ahead by controlling the boards, outrebounding the taller Golden Bears 41-29."They were only giving us one shot," Cal coach Joanne Boyle said.Walker led Cal (15-5, 6-4) with 20 points and eight rebounds, but had only eight points after halftime as she spent 4 minutes on the bench with foul trouble. Devanei Hampton added 15 points and seven rebounds.The Golden Bears appeared ready to spring an upset when they closed to 47-45 after Turner Thorne's technical. But Noe and Westerberg, both seniors, went to work, combining for 17 straight points to help the Sun Devils put the game away.Noe, the Sun Devils' leading 3-point shooter, supplied two of the biggest shots during that flurry from beyond the arc."I just go out and shoot the ball," Noe said.Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano served as the Sun Devils' guest coach. She wore a maroon jacket, sat on the bench and attended team meetings in the locker room. Arizona State is 4-0 with Napolitano in that role."She's just like part of the team," Westerberg said.