BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — With his team making a habit of letting big leads slip away this season, California coach Cuonzo Martin admits it hasn't been easy on his health. With four straight wins and a share of third place in the Pac-12, however, Martin isn't going to complain.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — With his team making a habit of letting big leads slip away this season, California coach Cuonzo Martin admits it hasn't been easy on his health.
With four straight wins and a share of third place in the Pac-12, however, Martin isn't going to complain.
Charlie Moore scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half, Grant Mullins made eight free throws over the final 71 seconds and California held off a late surge to beat Colorado 77-66 on Sunday afternoon.
The Bears won despite blowing most of a 23-point lead — an ongoing pattern in this up-and-down season for Martin's team which nevertheless has stayed in the Pac-12 hunt.
"They might be stronger (but) my heart is getting weak though from it," Martin said. "For some reason we just get in situations where we get a little fancy, we go off script and then crazy stuff happens. The great thing about our guys, they don't put their heads down. A year ago or even two years ago, guys put their heads down but these guys keep plugging."
Colorado trailed by as many as 23 in the first half but pulled within 62-57 on Derrick White's 3-pointer with 3:18 remaining.
Mullins followed with a 3-pointer — California's only basket over the final five minutes — to stop the slide and the Bears made 12 of 14 free throws to seal the win.
"We knew that a big lead could go away quickly if we let up," Mullins said. "They hit a few shots, got a few and-ones so we just had to stay locked in defensively."
Ivan Rabb had 11 points and 11 rebounds, Mullins scored 16 and Jabari Bird added 10 points and six rebounds to help the Golden Bears to their 12th win in 13 games against Colorado at Haas Pavilion.
California (17-6, 8-3 Pac-12) also moved into a tie for third place with UCLA. Both teams are two games behind No. 5 Arizona and No. 13 Oregon.
White scored 25 points and Toby Miller had 10 points and nine rebounds for Colorado (13-11, 3-8). Buffaloes coach Tad Boyle remains one win shy of 200 for his career.
"We buried ourselves into a hole there in the first half," Boyle said. "We could just not get over the hump. We just weren't quite good enough in the critical moments."
California appeared on the verge of a blowout early before Colorado's late push.
The Bears made five consecutive 3-pointers and had four different players score as part of a 24-2 run midway through the second half.
Bird, who scored the game-winning basket on a layup with 2.1 seconds left in double overtime to beat Utah on Thursday, had two 3s while Moore made three. The Bears led by as many as 23 before the Buffaloes pulled within 41-26 at halftime.
"I don't think we let up," Mullins said. "I think we had a few mental lapses on defense that gave them some open shots."
Colorado: Another inconsistent performance on both ends of the court for Boyle's team. The Buffaloes went more than seven minutes without a basket in the first half and were late getting out to defend the perimeter. It didn't help that Xavier Johnson, the team's second-leading scorer, did not play because of a violation of team rules and spent the game sitting near the end of the bench.
California: The Bears made nine 3-pointers in the first half, more than they had in 17 full games this season. They made only two in the second half. ... Kameron Rooks had nine points and six rebounds off the bench. ... Center Kingsley Okoroh had three blocks to move into a tie for fifth place on the school's all-time list. Okoroh played while wearing a protective mask after suffering a broken nose in the second half against Utah on Thursday.
Colorado: Returns home to host Washington on Feb. 9.
California: Plays at Arizona on Feb. 8 in the first of three straight road games.