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 Buffaloes 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 buried ourselves into a hole in the first half with them hitting nine threes, and obviously our zone wasn't very good in terms of guarding the three-point line," Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said during his post-game interview on 850 KOA radio. "We talked about coming out at the first media timeout of the second half and cutting [Cal's lead] below 10 and we had it at eight. We just couldn't get over the hump. At critical times in the game, we broke down defensively and let them expand [their lead]."
White scored 25 points and Toby Miller had 10 points and nine rebounds for Colorado, which fell to 13-11 overall and 3-8 in conference play.. Boyle remains one win shy of 200 for his career.
"I thought George King did a good job defensively on Ivan Rabb. He really took on the challenge and battled him. I am proud of our guys' fight and toughness and determination,” Boyle said. “Some good performances. Obviously Derrick [White] was good for us.
“We didn't handle their zone very well and turned it over. It was a little disappointing. We have been so good offensively lately but today's offense was kind of anemic. We only shot 36 percent.”
The Buffaloes were without two fifth-year seniors - forward Xavier Johnson and big man Wesley Gordon – on Sunday for violation of team rules. That left Colorado without two of its top three scorers, and two of its top three rebounders.
“It was one of those situations where two really, really good kids made a bad decision. So we had to address it,” Boyle said. “We handled it and we are going to move on. That is really all I have to say. They did something they shouldn't have done, but we're handling it, and they'll be back.”
Colorado will return home to host Washington on Thursday evening at 8 pm (MT).