California's Jordan Mathews, right, embraces Jabari Bird (23) after a 75-70 win over Arizona State in an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
Ben Margot
January 22, 2016

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Coming off three consecutive close losses that dropped California almost to the bottom of the Pac-12 standings, the Golden Bears finally got one to go their way.

Freshman Ivan Rabb said it simply came down to a mindset - and defense.

''It says that we're tired of losing,'' said Rabb after scoring a season-high 20 points in California's 75-70 win over Arizona State on Thursday night. ''That game could have easily gotten away from us for various reasons, but we dialed in on defense. That's where we get our stops and that's how you win games - defense.''

Jaylen Brown scored five points of his 17 points over the final 80 seconds and Rabb also came up big down the stretch to help hold off the Sun Devils' late charge.

The Bears (13-6, 3-3 Pac-12) led 54-40 midway through the second half before Arizona State stormed back to tie the game at 65 with 2:25 remaining.

Rabb made a tiebreaking free throw then blocked a shot at the other end. After Brown made one of two free throw attempts, the Bears blocked another shot and Brown followed with a fastbreak layup to make it 69-64.

Brown added two more free throws before fouling out with 18.5 seconds left and California made 6 of 6 from the line inside 27 seconds to remain unbeaten in 12 home games this season.

''I thought our guys did a great job sticking together from start to finish,'' Bears coach Cuonzo Martin said. ''We knew it would be tough. Our guys showed a tremendous amount of resiliency. That's probably the best we've shot all season.''

Rabb finished with a season-high 20 points with eight rebounds and six assists for the Bears, who played without injured leading scorer Tyrone Wallace. Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews added 10 points apiece.

Obinna Oleka had 14 points and six rebounds, while Eric Jacobsen added 10 points and seven rebounds for Arizona State (11-8, 1-5). The Sun Devils had won the last five matchups against the Bears.

''We got some good looks on offense but we didn't make shots when we were open,'' Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. ''We dug a hole we couldn't get out of. We just came up short.''

Both teams got off to sluggish starts before the Bears pulled away.

Rabb got California going midway through the first half when he scored 10 points over a six-minute stretch. Sam Singer - making his first start since Feb. 21, 2015 - had assists on four of Rabb's five baskets during the run to help the Bears build a 38-30 halftime lead.

Arizona State, which shot just 34.6 percent in the first half, stayed close by repeatedly getting to the free throw line. The Sun Devils also got a lift from Andre Spight, who made back-to-back baskets and scored eight of his 12 points before halftime.



Arizona State: The Sun Devils went into the game as the worst 3-point shooting team in the conference and opened by missing eight of their first 10 from beyond the arc. ... Seven of Arizona State's first 11 points came on free throws. ... Spight's four-point play in the second half sparked a 17-5 run that pulled the Sun Devils within 59-57 with 8 minutes remaining.

California: Wallace, the 11th-leading scorer in school history, is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after breaking his right hand during practice over the weekend. Wallace watched the game from the bench with his hand heavily bandaged. ... Kingsley Okoroh was called for a flagrant 1 foul in the first half, resulting in a technical. ... The Bears had not beaten the Sun Devils since Feb. 4, 2012.

SINGER FILLS THE VOID: Singer replaced Wallace in California's lineup and matched his career-high of eight assists while helping hold Arizona State leading scorer Tra Holder to nine points on 2-of-11 shooting. All eight of Singer's assists came in the first 14 minutes of the game. Singer, who was making his first start since Feb. 21, 2015, also set a personal best with six rebounds. ''I've been a point guard my whole life so when Tyrone went out, it was nothing new to me,'' Singer said. ''I felt great and confident.''


Arizona State: At Stanford on Saturday.

California: Hosts No. 12 Arizona on Saturday.

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