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Cal closed the Pac-12 regular season with a 74-70 loss at Arizona State, dropping the Golden Bears into Wednesday’s 12:10 p.m. game at the conference tournament.
The Bears (17-14, 7-11) will be seeded No. 8 and face No. 9 Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament opening game. Cal and WSU split their two regular-season games, each winning on the other team’s floor.
If Cal beats the Cougars, it will advance to the quarterfinals to face top-seeded, regular-season champion Arizona on Thursday at 12:10 p.m.
Cal started fast against ASU, fell behind, then could not close out a late rally.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” coach Cuonzo Martin said. “We just came up short.”
The Bears have dropped four of their past five games.
Tyrone Wallace had 23 points and six rebounds for the Bears, Jabari Bird scored 13, and Jordan Mathews and Sam Singer had 11 apiece.
Cal led 9-0 early and made eight of its first 10 shots. But the Bears converted just two of 20 shots after that before making one in the final 37 seconds of the half. Then they missed their first six free throws of the second half, eventually finishing at 8 for 15 for the game.
Down 63-53 with 6 1/2 minutes to go, the Bears got within striking distance but Mathews missed a late 3-pointer that could have tied the game.