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Sun Devil rally falls short at No. 9 Cal

February 14, 2008

Devanei Hampton had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Ashley Walker sparked a key second-half run that helped No. 9 California finish off its first regular season sweep against Arizona State in nine years with a 70-60 victory Thursday night.

Hampton and Walker dominated the inside and the Golden Bears (22-3, 13-1 Pac-10) overpowered the Sun Devils (16-8, 10-3) to keep their hold on first place in the conference. Cal outrebounded Arizona State 42-29, getting 11 from Walker. That helped lead to 24 second-chance points, overcoming a sloppy night handling the ball as Cal committed 22 turnovers.

Briann January had back-to-back steals that led to her own fast-break layups to help Arizona State pull to 42-41 midway through the second half.

Walker then scored five of her 15 points during an 11-0 run that broke open a one-point game and gave the Bears a 53-41 lead. Cal scored six of its points during the run off offensive rebounds.

Natasha Vital added 13 points for the Bears.

Jill Noe scored 16 points, January added 12 and Sybil Dosty had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Arizona State, which had won five straight.

The Sun Devils were swept by Cal for the first time since 1998-99, also losing 64-51 at home on Jan. 17, when Hampton scored a career-high 28 points. Their only other conference loss came against Stanford, which hosts Arizona State on Saturday.

Instead of the Sun Devils trying to keep Stanford from its eighth straight Pac-10 title, it's Cal that has a one-game lead over the Cardinal with four games left in the regular season. The Bears have set a school record for Pac-10 wins and have 15 straight at home. They still have a showdown upcoming at Haas Pavilion on Feb. 23 against the Cardinal, who beat Cal 72-52 in the first meeting.

The Bears fell behind by eight points early before Hampton helped them rally with strong inside play that keyed an 8-0 run late in the first half. Vital's 3-pointer in the final seconds gave Cal a 30-27 lead at the half.