FINAL SCORE: Colorado 70, Cal 59. The Buffaloes (22-11) advance to the Saturday tournament final against Arizona. The Bears (24-9) wait. And try to remain confident their resume of work gets them a bid from the NCAA on Sunday. Once more, CU’s defense proved troublesome to Cal. In three games between the teams this season, the Bears averaged 57.7 points — 15 below their average. The Buffs’ front-court 1-2 punch of Andre Roberson and Austin Dufault outscored Cal’s Harper Kamp and David Kravish by a combined 32-12. Add that to a poor start and 17 turnovers, and anything else the Bears did was pretty much canceled out. Crabbe finished with 18 points, eight of them in the final 3:48.
1:40 2nd H: CU not missing at the free throw line. Buffs lead 65-56.
3:18 2nd H: A 3-pointer by Crabbe halted a 10-0 Colorado run, but the Buffs lead 59-49 and timing is running out.
5:46 2nd H: CU leads 54-46. Carlon Brown taking over for the Buffs — he has their past five points and 15 for the game. Cal trailed just 49-46 when Gutierrez converted a drive, but he missed the FT and CU answered with a 5-0 run. Crabbe just picked up his fourth PF. He will stay in.
11:39 2nd H: CU leads 44-42 after a twisting, up-and-under drive by Roberson. Cal did not have a turnover in the half until Brandon Smith just committed two in a row — a travel, then a charge. He’s out. Cobbs back in. Crabbe returned at 12:15. Tomlinson has 3 PFs for CU.
15:43 2nd H: Cal immediately took the lead beginning the second half when Kamp converted a Cobbs pass for a layup. Crabbe picked up two fouls in a span of 10 seconds and Montgomery left him in for 3 more minutes, but has removed him with 3 PFs. CU now leads 34-33.
HALFTIME SCORE: Colorado 28, Cal 27. Bears outscored Buffs 23-13 after the first 4:39 of the half. Cal has almost every statistical edge: shooting 47.8 percent to 42.9 percent for CU; outrebounding the Buffs 17-11. But . . . 11 turnovers. Colorado doing a great job of retreating on defense, limiting Bears’ fastbreak opportunities. Cobbs has nine points, Crabbe has eight. Gutierrez has just two points, but four rebounds and two steals, plus has taken at least one charge.
0:23.7 1st H: CU calls timeout after 3-pointer by Cobbs makes it 28-27. Cal in midst of 10-2 run.
3:25 1st H: CU leads 28-22 after flying dunk by AustinDufault. Crabbe preceded that with his second 3-pointer of the game — he has eight points. Kamp is on the bench with two PFs. So is CU’s Carlon Brown, who has eight points. Who knew rebounding monster Roberson was such a good perimeter shooter: 2 for 2 from 3-pt. Cal has 10 turnovers. If they stop giving the ball away, they can win. Shooting 50 percent from the field and outrebounding CU so far.
7:51 1st H: Colorado leads 17-12. Bears’ defense much better — CU has scored 2 points in past 12 possessions — although it was a huge dunk by Roberson. Turnovers still Cal’s major issue: 8. Bears are 6 for 13 from the field (including 0 for 4 from 3-pt). CU shooting 8 for 17.
11:32 1st H: Bears seemed to be ready now. CU lead is just 15-10. Buffs have failed to score on five straight possessions. Gutierrez got a 2-minute break, which combined with timeout will be 4 or 5 minutes. He’s returning. Crabbe getting a break. Bears on 6-0 run. Colorado shooting 1 for 7 since 5 for 6 start. Cal’s biggest problem (again): Turnovers. Five so far.
15:57 1st H: First media timeout. Score still 12-4. Cal ball after Roberson foul. Can Bears weather early storm? Buffs appear far more aggressive so far. Cal looking too relaxed. Opposite of first half vs. Stanford. CU definitely ready to play.
16:14 1st H: CU calls timeout. Buffs lead 12-4 after jumper by Cobbs. CU shooting 5 for 7, including a pair of 3-pointers by Tomlinson.
17:07 1st H: Colorado lunges out to 12-2 lead and Monty calls timeout. He is steamed. “We’re doing the same @#*@% thing — everyone’s standing around.”
LINEUPS: Colorado will start Andre Roberson, Austin Dufault, Spencer Dinwiddie, Carlon Brown and Nate Tomlinson. Cal goes with Harper Kamp, David Kravish, Allen Crabbe, Jorge Gutierrez and Justin Cobbs.
ARIZONA WINS: Wildcats (23-10) advance to the Pac-12 title game with 72-61 win over OSU. The Beavers (19-14) were outscored 45-27 in the second half. Kyle Fogg scored 22 points for Arizona. Cal game will start in 30 minutes, says PA man.
ROSSI UPDATE: Nothing definitive on Alex Rossi, who is not with the Bears this weekend in L.A. But I’m told his return home this week to Illinois is family related.
HILL GONE: Arizona’s Solomon Hill just picked up his fourth PF, then was hit with a technical foul, which counts as his fifth PF. He’s done. Cats lead 60-49 after OSU converts 3 of 4 free throws with 5:30 left.
QUIETING PAYTON: Arizona leads 58-46 with 6 minutes left and OSU alum and Oakland native Gary Payton — a Hall of Fame trash-talker — has gotten quieter on the sidelines.
THE FATIGUE FACTOR: Neither Cal nor CU is real deep, but the Buffaloes probably enjoy a slight edge there. Coach Tad Boyle will feel fairly comfortable using eight players. Mike Montgomery has recently come right out and said he’s not sure he can go to his bench at all and survive. On the other hand, this is CU’s third game in three days, and that’s where fatigue at these kinds of events often begins to show itself.
RPI UPDATE: The computer confirms what you already suspect — Cal is in good shape for the NCAA tournament. The Bears’ win over Stanford in the quarterfinals lifted them three spots to No. 34, according to the latest official NCAA RPI listings. Colorado is No. 76 and will be the much more desperate team tonight.
WELCOME: We’re 45 minutes or so away from tipoff of Cal vs. Colorado in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals. A little better crowd at the Staples Center tonight watching Arizona vs. Oregon State, but hardly packed. Arizona leads 52-42 with 8:44 left. Will keep you posted.