TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A superior defensive effort against the 10th-ranked team in the nation was almost for naught on Sunday.
But Penina Davidson got an offensive rebound after a missed shot and hit a layup, her only points of the day, at the buzzer to lift California past Arizona State 50-49 on Sunday.
"It was fun," said Davidson, who played all of three minutes on Sunday. "What really got me was the girls' demeanor throughout the whole game. It was up and down the whole time but no one ever got down."
That came after Katie Hempen capped a 7-0 run by making a 3-pointer with 13.3 seconds left to give the Sun Devils their only lead of the afternoon after trailing by as much as 14 points in the second half. It was the only field goal Hempen made all day.
"It's on all of us, really," said Sophie Brunner about the final possession. "It's not one person's job to get that rebound, it's all of us. We just didn't finish it up with the rebound. That's on all of us."
With the win, California moved into a second-place tie with Arizona State, one game behind Oregon State with six games left in the regular season.
Mikayla Cowling scored 16 points to lead the Bears, who won their seventh straight since losing to the Sun Devils in Berkeley on Jan. 16.
"This game there was no quit in us the entire time, we know we are a different team than three weeks ago," said California coach Lindsay Gottlieb. "It got a little hairy there, we turned the ball over too much. ASU is extremely good but we never doubted that our belief in ourselves I think was there the whole time."
Brittany Boyd added nine points and six rebounds and the Bears held Arizona State, the third-best shooting team in the league to 20-of-62 (32 percent) from the field. Boyd missed the final 4:19 after falling appearing to hit the back of her head on the floor after going for the ball and colliding with Hempen.
"In a game when nothing would fall — layups, free throws, anything — I'm proud of our team for fighting back and trying to find a way to win," said Arizona State coach Charli Turner Thorne. "The way we fought back, because Cal is a really good team, playing their best basketball right now, I was really proud. Tough break at the end but if this team now takes it to heart, in terms of rebounding, I think we will be better for it."
Brunner had 10 points and nine rebounds to lead the Sun Devils, who were coming off an emotional 53-52 win over No. 12 Stanford on Friday.
After trailing 32-18 early in the second half, Arizona State ran off nine straight points, capped by a free throw by Hempen.
Elisha Davis added 10 points for Arizona State (21-3, 10-2 Pac-12).
California (18-5, 10-2) got 10 points from Reshanda Gray. California took advantage of Arizona State's cold shooting and mistake-filled half to take a 26-16 lead at the break
The Sun Devils missed 10 straight shots during one stretch and 18 of their last 20 attempts of the half in shooting 6-of-29 (21 percent) from the field. Hempen and Promise Amukamara missed all 12 of their shots combined.
The taller Bears outscored Arizona State 24-10 in the lane. Their first five baskets were all layups, three off Sun Devil turnovers in the first three minutes. During the one of Arizona State's scoring droughts, California ran off eight straight points to go up 22-9 with 7:29 left.
California: The Golden Bears had not beaten a top 10 team since beating No. 5 Stanford on Jan. 13, 2013. ... California lost to Arizona State 67-52 in Berkeley on Jan. 16. The Bears have held three straight opponents held under 20 points in the first half. . Gottlieb is now 44-5 against Pac-12 schools outside of California.
Arizona State: Arizona State's 53-52 win over Stanford on Friday was the Sun Devils' fifth contest this season to be decided by five or fewer points. They had won all five. ... Arizona State's 16 first-half points were the lowest output of the season. The Sun Devils came into the game averaging 70.3 points a game.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We wanted to get it in the hands of Gabby (Green) or Mikayla and go to the rim. We felt we wanted to put pressure on them with a high ball screen. I think it got bobbled and ended up in (Mercedes) Jefflo's hands. We have multiple people on the floor that can do multiple things. So she got to the rim and got it up there and Nina had the presence of mind, a, to grab the rebound and then put it up before the buzzer went off," Gottlieb said about the final possession, which was reviewed by the officials before being confirmed.
MILESTONES: With her nine points, Boyd has 1,563 in her career, moving into No. 10 in the California career scoring list. Gray now has 1,589 points in her career, having passed Devanei Hampton (1,588) for eighth on the scoring list.
California: vs. UCLA on Thursday
Arizona State: at No. 7 Oregon State on Friday