- Associated Press - Saturday, March 4, 2017

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) - Derrick White was double-covered and stumbling with his back to the basket in one instant. In the next, he squared up, soared above traffic and let the shot fly.

White made that contested, turnaround 3-pointer with 20.6 seconds left and finished with 17 points, helping Colorado fend off California in the late going for a 54-46 win on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

“It felt good coming off my hands,” White said. “I just tried to focus and find the rim.”

Find the rim it did, quashing Cal’s last-ditch comeback bid.

“Obviously, White made a big 3-pointer that changed the game,” Cal coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I thought we did a good job of defending him. He just made a big-time shot.”

Xavier Jonson had 19 points and went 8 for 8 from the free throw line to lead Colorado (18-13, 8-10 Pac-12), which gained a split of its season series with Cal (19-11, 10-8) despite being held to a season low in points.

“It is good to win a game like this,” said White, whose Buffaloes came out on top in the defensive struggle after scoring a season-high in points in beating Stanford 91-72 on Thursday.

“If you put the offensive performance from Thursday with today’s defensive performance, you’ve got the recipe to beat anybody,” added Colorado Tad Boyle.

Ivan Rabb had 11 points and 13 rebounds for the Golden Bears, who missed a chance to notch their second consecutive 20-win campaign. Jabari Bird also scored 11 and Grant Mullins added 10 for Cal, which has stumbled down the stretch, losing five of its last six.

With the game tied at 37, Johnson made a layup and a 3-pointer on successive possessions to put Colorado up 42-37 with 8:44 left. Cal closed to within a point on a jumper by Mullins but couldn’t overtake the Buffaloes, who got a clutch 3-pointer from Dominique Collier to pull ahead by four with 2:36 left.

A pair of free throws by Johnson helped to offset three consecutive free throws by Bird with 49.6 seconds left before White somehow drained a twisting 3-pointer in the face of defensive pressure.

Cal led 25-22 at halftime as both teams struggled to establish themselves offensively, with neither team scoring during a nearly 5 1/2 minute stretch. Mullins broke the spell by connecting on a 3-pointer, but Johnson kept Colorado close by banking in a jumper just before the halftime buzzer sounded.

BIG PICTURE

California: The Golden Bears’ trademark defense was on display throughout the game against the Buffaloes but their offense failed to do its part. Cal, coming off a 30-point loss at Utah in which it was held to 44 points, shot just 27.3 percent from the field.

Colorado: The Buffaloes have come around as a team down the stretch. Since starting conference play with seven straight losses, the Buffaloes have gone 8-3 in one of the more dramatic turnarounds in the school’s history.

MAKING A POINT

Cal showed there’s nothing wrong with its defense but its offensive woes have become acute. “You just can’t keep getting stops and stops without scoring,” said Jabari Bird. “We’ve got to score baskets, too.”

UP NEXT

California: The Bears head to the Pac-12 Tournament, which starts Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Colorado: The Buffaloes next play on Wednesday at the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas.


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