BERKELEY, Calif. – Matt Bradley matched his career highs of 26 points and five 3-pointers, and California pulled away in the second half to beat No. 21 Colorado 76-62 on Thursday night.
Kareem South had 19 points and Paris Austin added 12 as the Golden Bears (12-16, 6-9 Pac-12) emphatically ended a five-game losing streak against the Buffaloes and gave first-year coach Mark Fox his most significant win of the season while handing Colorado a stinging setback.
McKinley Wright IV scored 18 points and Tyler Bey had 13 for Colorado.
The Buffaloes (21-8, 10-6) were among a handful of teams who began the night a half-game behind conference-leading Arizona State. The Sun Devils played at UCLA later Thursday.
Cal’s win came nearly a year to the day after its previous one over a Top 25 team, a 76-73 victory against No. 25 Washington on Feb. 25, 2019.
The Bears led nearly the entire game and pulled away after the Buffaloes scored the first two buckets of the second half.
Bradley, who appeared to hurt his elbow shortly after the break, spearheaded the surge in nearly every way. He made a shot just inside the 3-point line, then later had a 16-foot fadeaway. Bradley added a 3-pointer, then stole the ball from Evan Battey and sparked a fast break ending in a 3 by Paris Austin that made it 56-40.
Colorado, coming off a 70-63 loss to UCLA, got within 12 with 3½ minutes remaining before Paris Austin scored on a reverse for California.
Colorado trailed until Siewert made back-to-back 3s midway through the first half. Bradley followed with consecutive 3s for Cal, including one that ended in a four-point play after he was fouled by Bey.
BIG PICTUREColorado: The loss to UCLA last week dropped coach Tad Boyle’s team three spots in the AP Top 25. This one will almost surely knock the Buffaloes out of the rankings altogether and very well could end any hopes they had of winning the conference title. Colorado had followed its five previous losses with wins but now has back-to-back defeats for the first time since early December.
California: The Bears missed six of their first seven shots to open the second half, then took off and never looked back. Bradley’s big game was huge, but South’s production might have been more pivotal as he kept Colorado’s defense on its heels and took some of the scoring pressure off Bradley.
FORMER BEAR HONOREDFormer Cal star Shareef Abdur-Rahim was given the Pete Newell Career Achievement award during a brief halftime ceremony. The third overall pick in the 1996 draft after winning conference player of the year honors during his one season with the Bears, Abdur-Rahim played 12 seasons in the NBA and currently works as the G League president.
NEXTColorado: Plays at Stanford on Sunday.
California: Hosts Utah on Saturday in the final home game of the season at Haas Pavilion.