- Associated Press - Saturday, March 8, 2014

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) - Without making a basket in overtime, California clinched a high seed for the Pac-12 tournament and kept alive slim hopes at making it into the NCAA tournament.

It’s been that kind of quirky year for the up-and-down Golden Bears, who rode the momentum from an off-day game of Laser Tag to one of their most critical wins of the season.

Justin Cobbs made a pair of free throws with 20.8 seconds left in overtime, and California beat Colorado 66-65 on Saturday.

“Whatever it takes to get it done, and that’s what we did tonight,” said Cobbs, who finished with 21 points and four assists. “We have to make shots. Down the stretch we weren’t able to do that, but … we played defense. We defended our butts off and were able to pull it out. When we play like that we’re a better team.”

The Golden Bears (19-12, 10-8 Pac-12) went nearly eight minutes without a basket but scored seven points in overtime, all on free throws.

Cobbs made four of them to overcome a 5-of-17 night from the floor and help Cal end its three-game losing streak.

“It’s a sigh of relief,” Cobbs said. “We’ve been through so much, ups and downs and losing games we felt like we should have won. To finally go out with a win, it gives us a little confidence going into Pac-12 tournament.”

Richard Solomon and David Kravish both had double-doubles for California, which ends the regular season in a five-way tie for third place in the Pac-12. The Bears will be the fourth seed and get a first-round bye in the conference tournament beginning Thursday in Las Vegas.

Xavier Johnson scored 24 points for Colorado, which has lost three of four. The Buffaloes are the fifth seed.

“There (are) very few losses where you can tell your guys that you are proud of them … because of the effort and everything that went into the game,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “Tonight was one of those situations. We just came up a little bit short.”

Cal trailed for much of the game and was down by three early in overtime before pulling out the win at the free-throw line.

The Bears, who were held without a basket for the final 2:44 of regulation, didn’t make a bucket at all in the extra period and shot just 35.4 percent overall.

Still, coach Mike Montgomery’s team found a way to hold on for the critical win. It came two days after players and coaches went out of town together for a joint game of Laser Tag.

“We’ve been talking and doing the same things and going over the same things,” Montgomery. “In some ways they were struggling, and we just felt they needed a day away from basketball. They just had to step away and do something different.”

A loss would have left Cal with the eighth seed in the conference tournament and staring at an uphill battle to get into the NCAA tournament.

It’s still not going to be easy but the Bears are in much better shape after holding off the Buffaloes (21-10, 10-8).

Cal committed only five turnovers against Colorado, all but one in the first half. The Bears also blocked eight shots, including four by Solomon.

It was only Cal’s second win in five home games at Haas Pavilion since the Bears’ 60-58 upset of then-unbeaten No. 1 Arizona on Feb. 1.

Wesley Gordon scored on a layup and Josh Scott made a pair of free throws to give Colorado a 63-60 lead in overtime.

Cobbs made two free throws with 2:05 remaining and Kravish added two of his own to put Cal up 64-63.

After Askia Booker scored on a quick layup, Cobbs missed two long jumpers before getting fouled and making both free throws.

Colorado had one final chance but Booker’s desperation 3-pointer bounced off the backboard.

The Buffaloes also missed a chance to win the game in regulation when Xavier Talton’s bounce pass deflected off Cobbs‘ leg with less than two seconds remaining. Cobbs alertly grabbed the ball near midcourt and heaved a shot at the buzzer but it missed the rim.

Solomon and Kravish each had 14 points and 12 rebounds for Cal.

Johnson got Colorado off to an early lead before briefly heading to the bench midway through the first half with an apparent shin injury. He scored 14 of the Buffaloes’ first 18 points, including 10 straight, while repeatedly beating the Bears on the perimeter and down low.

California, which had not lost to Colorado in nine previous home games, made its best run while Johnson was out.

The Bears held the Buffaloes scoreless for nearly five minutes and used an 11-2 run to go up 23-20.

Cobbs later added a pair of long jumpers, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but Cal’s offense went cold over the final six minutes and Colorado ended the half on an 11-5 run.

The Buffaloes extended their lead to 51-42 midway through the second half before the Bears made a late push to set up overtime.

Kravish made a pair of long jumpers for Cal and Cobbs added four free throws in the final 30 seconds of regulation.

“We came together as a team,” Solomon said. “We were all playing together, unselfishly. If we play like the way we did today, we’re pretty good.”

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide