After the magic that was Sunday afternoon in Tempe, No. 17 ASU (18-7, 9-5) strolled into Berkeley, CA with high expectations.
Unfortunately, the Devils could not deliver.
ASU dropped the weekend opener to Cal (15-11, 6-9) 69-60 Friday night.
Junior Reili Richardson and senior Courtney Ekmark were the only Devils in double digits. Richardson scored 12 on 5 of 10 shooting while Ekmark totaled 10 on 3 of 6.
The Devils led the game for the entire first half, but to close out the half, Cal’s Reece Caldwell banked in a three at the buzzer to shrink Cal’s deficit to seven. Was it the turning point for the Golden Bears?
Cal outscored ASU 22-9 in the third, and it gave them far enough separation to hold the lead to the final buzzer.
While ASU lost, they were able to control the boards, collecting 33 rebounds and just barely out-rebounding Cal’s 31.
Coming into this weekend, ASU is looking ahead at by far one of the toughest schedules to close out the season next to Arizona (because of how scheduling works).
Of the four games - tonight’s, Sunday at No. 7 Stanford (22-4, 12-3), next Friday against No. 12 Oregon State (22-5, 12-3) and Sunday against No. 2 Oregon (24-2, 13-1) - ASU had remaining, this was by far the easiest for them to win.
ASU is clinging onto the 4th seed in the conference and can earn a first-round bye in the tournament if they secure it. They are additionally a projected 5th seed in Charlie Creme’s ESPN Bracketology.
The upcoming three games will have a significant effect on ASU’s tournament seeding, and where they end up in the conference tournament will only help or hinder that.
Next stop is Palo Alto when they face Stanford Sunday at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Network and can be heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.