Men: Colorado 70, California 59
By Michelle Smith
LOS ANGELES - Three games in three days didn't faze the Colorado Buffaloes. Being the newcomer didn't affect them even a little.
Colorado will play for the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament title in its first year in the conference after upsetting second-seeded Cal in the semifinals on Friday night, 70-59.
The Buffaloes (22-11) will face Arizona, which in the final for the second straight year after a 72-61 win over Oregon State earlier in the evening. The two teams will battle for the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
It will be a battle between the league's top two defensive teams, both of whom are on the NCAA bubble and will be battling for their spot in the bracket.
Colorado became the first team in the history of the tournament to win three games to reach the final.
Colorado set the tone early with a 12-2 start to shock the Bears and then weathered a Cal comeback - the Bears briefly taking the lead in the second half - before the Buffaloes asserted themselves again down the stretch.
"We've been playing with unbelievable heart and desire," said Colorado coach Tad Boyle. "We executed really well in the second half. I can't say enough about our toughness. It really galvanized in the last couple of games."
And as they did the night before when the Buffs knocked out third-seeded Oregon, the large section of Colorado students who flew to Los Angeles for this tournament cheered their team heartily from start to the satisfying finish.
Four players scored in double-figures for Colorado in a balanced offensive attack - senior Carlon Brown and sophomore Andre Roberson each finished with 17. Roberson was 6-for-6 from the floor. Forward Austin Dufault added 15.
Colorado was out-rebounded, but forced 17 Cal turnovers and out-scored the Bears 34-20 in the paint.
"We just want it," Brown said. "We've never been in a position like this, playing for a championship. It's something this school hasn't done in a long time and we are using it as motivation."
Cal, a likely NCAA Tournament entrant with a 24-9 record, rallied with a 10-2 run to get within 28-27 at halftime and led by three in the early minutes of the second half, but couldn't hold on. Colorado held Cal scoreless for a stretch of 4:19 to take a 59-46 lead in the closing minutes.
Allen Crabbe led Cal with 18 points and guard Justin Cobbs added 15, but the Bears struggled to score consistently and couldn't keep up with Colorado in the second half.
"I told the team I think we found our heart here in Los Angeles. I think it's been there all year," Boyle said.
Colorado and Arizona split their two regular-season matchups, each winning on their home court.
"We all know what's at stake," Boyle said. "We don't need to talk about it. We came here on a mission and we've taken care of business up to this point. We want to come out and compete and lay it all out on the line."