Four and a half seconds remained in overtime, and Cal guard Tyrone Wallace stepped to the free-throw line. The sophomore had a one-and-one and his Bears had a one-point lead. If he missed, Colorado would have just enough time to steal a victory.
His shot clanked off the rim.
In a back-and-forth affair Saturday afternoon, the game between the Cal men’s basketball team and Colorado came down to a final heave.
The Buffaloes’ Askia Booker sprinted down the court after getting a pass from teammate Wesley Gordon, jumped and launched a 3-pointer to the right of the basket. It missed.
In a game that featured 12 lead changes, Cal (19-12, 10-8 Pac-12) collected the win it needed heading into next week’s conference tournament. Even though the Bears finished the last two minutes and 44 seconds of regulation and the entire overtime period without making a field goal, they were able to snap a three-game losing streak in a 66-65 win over Colorado (21-10, 10-8).
“They tried to share the ball, they tried to move the ball, they tried to play help-side defense,” said Cal head coach Mike Montgomery of his team. “And that made all the difference in the world.”
With the win, the Bears clinched the No. 4 seed in the conference tournament and a first-round bye. They will play Thursday.
Saturday afternoon’s game was the first and only matchup between the two teams in regular season play. Cal won the most recent meeting last March at Haas Pavilion.
The Bears were fortunate to be in overtime. With 8:53 left in the game, the Buffaloes pushed their lead to nine.
“There were a couple of rebounds that we could’ve secured there at the end, and that would’ve put us in control,” said Colorado head coach Tad Boyle. “Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way.”
Both teams then had chances at the end of the game to win in regulation. Off a timeout with 26 seconds left, the Buffaloes’ Xavier Talton had the ball. He dribbled back and forth, running time off the clock, and drove. He made an errant pass that was collected by Justin Cobbs in front of Colorado’s bench.
He sprinted to half-court and heaved the ball. It just ticked off the rim.
The game started well for the Bears, as a mix of Cobbs, Wallace, Richard Solomon and David Kravish was enough for a four-point lead for Cal. Cobbs finished the game 5-17 from the field but collected 21 points, playing in all 45 minutes. He was 4-4 from the free-throw line in overtime and 8-8 for the game.
In the course of several minutes midway through the first half, Colorado’s Xavier Johnson took over and ripped the lead away. The sophomore scored 10 straight points for the Buffaloes, while the Bears went scoreless. In the first 20 minutes alone, Johnson had topped his season average of 11.8 points per game. He finished the game with 24 points scored.
Colorado held a 31-28 advantage at the half.
Minutes into the second half, and with the game tied, a block by Solomon looked like it would spark a fast-break opportunity for his teammates. When he landed, the senior rolled his left ankle and limped down the court. After a timeout, he went into the locker room. He returned minutes later and played 40 total minutes.
Solomon, playing in his final regular season home game for Cal, finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds, his 14th double-double of the season. Kravish also collected 14 points and 12 rebounds for his sixth double-double, in 42 minutes played.
Saturday’s win was also the final regular season game at Haas Pavilion for the Bears’ Cobbs and Jeff Powers.
“There was probably three other games that we could have had this result and won by one that we didn’t,” Montgomery said. “This time it was our turn.”
Contact Stephen Hobbs at [email protected].