BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Tyler Bey made it a point to pick up the pace in the second half.
Bey scored 13 of his season-high 21 points in the second half and No. 24 Colorado made key free throws down the stretch to beat California 71-65 on Thursday night.
McKinley Wright IV had 17 points and D’Shawn Schwartz added 14 for Colorado (18-5, 7-3 Pac-12), which won for the fourth time in five games.
“I just wanted to step up for the team,” Bey said of his mindset going into the second half. “Lucas (Siewert) wasn’t really making shots. Evan (Battey) was in foul trouble. So I was really the only big out there that was capable of doing that. So I just wanted to step up.”
Bey also grabbed 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double this season and the 27th of his career.
Matt Bradley had 17 points to lead Cal (10-12, 4-5) which remained winless away from its home court, dropping to 0-6 on the road and 0-3 on neutral courts this season. Paris Austin added 15 points and Andre Kelly 12 on 6 for 7 shooting for Cal, which lost its fifth straight game to Colorado.
“Not the prettiest win, it reminded me of a wins we had this November and December, when we kind of just work. Not very good, but we found a way,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “The sign of a somber locker room after a league win tells you that we have pretty high expectations of ourselves”
Austin said Colorado picked up its offensive pace in the second half and in the end, Cal couldn’t quite keep up.
“Colorado is a good team, they got out in transition. They sped the game up,” Austin said.
Deadlocked at halftime, the game remained tight thoughout most of the second half. Austin’s 3-pointer with 5:16 remaining pulled the Golden Bears to within two points. But Shane Gatling and Wright connected on 3-pointers around a layup by Bradley as Colorado opened a 58-52 lead with 3:00 remaining.
Austin broke loose after a steal for a breakaway layup. Colorado, though, came back to score on Schwartz’s three-point play and Wright’s layup to build a 63-54 lead with 1:07 left to play.
Cal cut the deficit to four points with 32.1 seconds remaining but Shane Gatling, Evan Battey and Eli Parquet combined to make six free throws in the waning seconds to help hold off the Bears.
California: The Bears kept it close throughout the game but they could not get over the hump, continuing their woes away from home to remain winless on the road.
Colorado: The Buffaloes struggled at times on offense but found their rhythm in the second half, both from the floor and the throw line.
California: Rounds out its trip to the mountain schools at Utah on Saturday night.
Colorado: Hosts Stanford on Saturday.