TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cal's three upperclassmen did their part in Saturday's 65-61 victory over Arizona State, but the weekend in the desert also was a coming out party for freshman Allen Crabbe.
Crabbe equaled his career high of 17 points for the second straight game as the Bears (8-7, 1-2) avoided their first 0-3 start to the Pac-10 since the 1999-2000 season. Cal has beaten ASU in Tempe seven of the past eight years.
Crabbe also had eight rebounds in a 40-minute performance as Cal dominated the Sun Devils (8-7, 1-3) inside, grabbing 18 offensive rebounds and forging a 43-27 overall edge on the boards.
"To come in and really have a legit chance Thursday (before losing 73-71 at Arizona) and then win this, I think that's fabulous," coach Mike Montgomery said. "It's a road win, baby."
Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez scored a career-high 21 points, senior center Markhuri Sanders-Frison had 13 points and 11 rebounds for his fourth double-double of the season, and junior forward Harper Kamp had 10 points and nine rebounds in his homecoming game.
But the Bears have been waiting for Crabbe to emerge, and, in the wake of freshman guard Gary Franklin defecting this week, the 6-foot-6 wing seems to have done so.
Two days after missing a key late free throw at McKale Center, Crabbe went to the line for two attempts with 1.8 seconds left and Cal leading 64-61. The first one rimmed out.
"After I missed it, I thought about the Arizona game," Crabbe acknowledged. "I was like, I can't let that happen again."
He made the second, improving his scoring average to 14.5 points over the past four games. Reluctant to shoot at times early in the season, Crabbe put up a season-high 14 attempts against the Sun Devils. He was 4 for 9 from the 3-point arc.
"He was state player of the year in California -- it's not like he's a dog," Montgomery said. "He's just getting more confident."
Crabbe said he wasn't particularly tired afterward. "It was good to play 40 minutes," he said. "It shows that the coaches trust me, have confidence in me, so that felt good."
The Bears went into the game confident their advantage against the smallish Sun Devils was inside. ASU was outrebounded 25-8 in the second half of its 55-41 loss to Stanford two nights earlier.
The Sun Devils altered their lineup, going with 7-foot Russian center Russian Pateev. Cal attacked inside anyway, forging a 27-12 lead after 15 minutes, thanks to timely 3-pointers from Gutierrez and Crabbe and a potent interior game.
"We thought we could attack inside," Montgomery said.
Although ASU whittled the lead to 31-23 by halftime, Cal had built a 28-13 rebounding edge and created 14 second-chance points after offensive boards.
"That was our game plan to start down low with me and Harper and work inside-out," Sanders-Frison said. "We beat 'em up on the boards."
The Sun Devils came all the way back to knot the score at 40-all when longtime Cal antagonist Ty Abbott hit a 3-pointer with 12 minutes left.
But the Bears stuck to their plan, continuing an inside-out offensive mix. Crabbe scored nine points in the final 101/2 minutes of the game.
"He's definitely stepping up and coming into his own," Sanders-Frison said. "We're not surprised at all. It was just him getting more comfortable with the college game, and he's doing his thing now. I'm proud of him."
Washington State (12-4, 2-2 Pac-10) at Cal (8-7, 1-2), 7:30 p.m.