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Jorge Gutierrez, Allen Crabbe, Cal Starting Five Comes Through For Arizona State

Jorge Gutierrez was born to participate in a contest like the Cal's narrow 66-62 victory over the lowly Arizona St. Sun Devils. It was a hard fought game cluttered with poor shooting, struggling offense, numerous free throw trips, and pretty strong defense. This was a classic Jorge game, and despite his struggles shooting (four of 13 from the field, one of seven from beyond the three point arc), he went to the line and drilled nine of ten free throws to notch his 18 points to lead all Golden Bears.

He also chipped in seven rebounds, six assists, and two steals. Two of those passes found Brandon Smith and Allen Crabbe for the two dagger threes that gave Cal lead the good, and essentially ended the game with seconds left. In every respect, it was Jorge’s night.

But he wasn’t alone in tonight’s contest. Crabbe couldn’t shoot the ball at all (his three at the end of the game to give Cal that deadly four point lead), but managed six rebounds and got five of the seven crucial free throws in the span of a minute to cut an eight point lead to two with five minutes to go—his ploy to draw Ty Abbott into three free throw shots was totally pro. With both Gutierrez and Crabbe misfiring from outside, Smith had to come up with some big shots, and nailed five of nine to finish with eleven points.

It was a quiet night for Harper Kamp (only two for four shooting from the field), but he made his impact felt defensively by grabbing four of his seven rebounds in the final minutes, then making the huge block on the potential go-ahead jumper by Trent Lockett with under a minute left to set up Crabbe’s finishing three (and Kamp could have fouled out if he hit Lockett anywhere, so a gutsy play there). Markhuri Sanders-Frison chipped in his customary 13 points on five of eight shooting, but also seven big rebounds and four on the offensive glass.

Credit should go to Lockett and Jamelle McMillan, who hit 11 of Arizona State’s 22 baskets and scored 32 of the Sun Devils 62 points; their impressive shooting display nearly won ASU the game. But Cal won this game with their ability to get to the line and make free throws. The Bears shot 24 for 29 from the charity stripe compared to 8 of 12 for ASU, and did just enough to eek this one out.

For more reaction, head over to the California Golden Blogs for more game reaction.