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Bears beat ASU to cement NCAA bid

By Ralph Gaston Daily Planet Correspondent
Friday March 09, 2001


Cal may be re-discovering its offensive balance just in time to try out some new dance steps. 

Brian Wethers scored a career-high 27 points and Sean Lampley added 13 points and 11 rebounds as the California Golden Bears defeated Arizona State, 86-67, Thursday night at Haas Pavilion. The win pushed the Bears’ record to 20-9, and gives them 11 conference wins for the first time since 1997. The 1997 team was the last to play in the NCAA Tournament, and this year’s Bears believe that they deserve their own ticket to March Madness.  

“Do I think we should be in (the tournament)? Yeah, I do,” said Cal head coach Ben Braun. “But we don’t play just to get into tournaments. We have to keep playing like we have been, playing to get better each game.” 

It would be hard for the Bears to improve on their shooting from Thursday; Cal scorched the nets all game, shooting 51 percent from the field and draining 12 3-pointers. Five of those trifectas were made by Wethers, who connected on 10 of his 13 shots in the game.  

“We all had to step up; we have to help Lampley out,” said Wethers. “I needed to step up tonight, and my teammates trusted me and got me the ball.” 

Lampley didn’t have a field goal in the first half, and took just nine shots from the floor all game. However, the senior forward found his teammates for open looks, particularly Wethers and Ryan Forehan-Kelly (18 points), racking up five assists to go with 11 rebounds.  

“All of our perimeter guys were shooting well, so I just tried to get them the ball,” said Lampley. “I didn’t feel the need to try to force anything to happen.” 

The Sun Devils were led by Tommy Smith, who racked up 21 points and 12 rebounds, both team-highs. Awvee Storey, the Pac-10’s leading rebounder, got into foul trouble early and was forced to leave the game later in the 1st half because of a lacerated eye. 

The Bears used a 14-5 run midway through the first half to sprint out to a 30-15 lead. Wethers was instrumental in the run, hitting two 3-pointers and a short jumper in the three-minute span. The Sun Devils were able to come as close as six points near the end of the half, but Wethers responded with a lay-up and two free throws to end the half with Cal leading 42-32. 

The second half brought much of the same, as seemingly every Sun Devil rally was killed with a Cal 3-point dagger. Finally, the Bears went on a 21-7 run to finish ASU off. The exclamation point came in the final four minutes of play as Wethers raced into the open court for two rim-rocking alley-oop dunks. Wethers’ high-flying aerial show brought the crowd to its feet and the Sun Devils to their knees. “Cal has a nice ballclub,” said Evans after the game. “They have a great player in Lampley, and they have good complimentary players that know and play their roles.” 

Former Cal legend and NBA All-Star Kevin Johnson was honored before the game; Cal re-retired his number 11 and raised it to the Haas Pavilion rafters.