Photo by Associated Press.
Originally Published: March 1, 2018 11:10 p.m.
TEMPE — Romello White had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and Arizona State pulled away in a second half filled with highlight-reel plays to beat California 84-53 Thursday night.
Arizona State (20-9, 8-9 Pac-12) gradually built at 10-point lead in the first half, then ran away from the Bears in the second with a series of dunks and layups to end a three-game losing streak.
The Sun Devils shot 51 percent and made 15 of 27 shots in the second half to send Cal (8-22, 2-15) to its school-record 22nd loss of the season.
Shannon Evans II had 14 points and Tra Holder 13 for Arizona State.
Don Coleman had 16 points for Cal, which missed all 18 of its 3-point shots.
The Bears have lost six straight, 14 of 15 and broke a tie with the 1978-79 team for the most losses in their 111 seasons as a program.
Arizona State still has a solid NCAA Tournament resume thanks to a strong nonconference season. But the margin for error has slimmed up over the past two weeks with losses to No. 19 Arizona, Oregon and Oregon State.
The Sun Devils certainly couldn’t afford a loss to the struggling Bears, who have the Pac-12’s worst offense and defense.
Arizona State won the first meeting against Cal 81-73 in Berkeley behind a 41-point night by its bench.
The Bears struggled offensively early in the rematch, hit a hot stretch midway through and struggled again to close the first half. Cal missed all 10 of its 3-point shots and Arizona State led 39-29 at halftime.
Arizona State got the rout rolling early second half, making six of its first nine shots to stretch the lead to 51-33. Cal missed four of its first six shots with turnovers in that stretch.
The Sun Devils kept on the gas, pushing the lead to 70-49 on a series a highlight-reel layups.
Cal’s first season under Wyking Jones has been historically ugly and the Bears didn’t stand much of a chance when the Sun Devils revved up. The Bears moved a step closer to being the No. 12 seed in next week’s Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona State dominated at both ends to win a game it couldn’t afford to lose, pushing the Sun Devils further away from the NCAA Tournament bubble.
Cal plays at No. 19 Arizona on Saturday.
Arizona State hosts Stanford Saturday.