BERKELEY, Calif. -- The Buffs did not begin March with a strong effort.
Colorado shot just 23.1 percent (15-for-65) from the field and was out-rebounded 46-36 during Saturday's 62-46 loss to Cal at Haas Pavilion.
As a result, the Bears (20-9, 12-5) won their seventh consecutive game and positioned themselves to possibly earn a share of the Pac-12 regular-season championship next week.
The Buffs (19-9, 9-7) squandered a chance to finish in the top four and earn a bye at the Pac-12 Tournament.
"It's big for them to understand what it takes to win this time of the year against this kind of team in this kind of environment," a disappointed Tad Boyle said. "If this game doesn't motivate our players, every single one of them, to get in the weight room, then I don't know what will. Because we got manhandled."
One of Boyle's goals every season is for CU to lead the Pac-12 in field goal percentage defense.
Cal, which shot 46.4 percent from the field, is going to accomplish that feat this season at CU's expense.
"They're No. 1 in the conference in defensive field goal percentage, that's where we've been and where we want to be," Boyle said. "We're No. 2 now because Cal is really guarding and that's the reason they've won.
"And they've got two guys that can go off at any time."
Boyle was referring to Allen Crabbe, the Pac-12's leading scorer, and Justin Cobbs, a three-time conference player of the week.
But it was freshman Tyrone Wallace who broke the Buffs' back with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Crabbe and Cobbs combined for 24 points on 9-for-25 shooting with several baskets coming after the game was already decided.
"Andre did a great job on Crabbe, but Wallace got out in transition and got some easy buckets," Boyle lamented.
Josh Scott returned to the starting lineup for the first time since suffering a concussion against Arizona State on Feb. 16.
The 6-10 freshman was rusty on offense (2-for-10 from the field, four points) and struggled to box out counterpart Richard Solomon, who scored six straight points after collecting three offensive rebounds to give Cal a 32-27 lead.
"I'd say it has a lot has to do with rust. I haven't played in two weeks and they did a good job defensively as well," said Scott, who did have 11 rebounds in 29 minutes. "I just need to get some good hard work in practice in. It felt like was unfamiliar with the ball."
Xavier Johnson, who scored 18 points and pulled down 12 rebounds during CU's 81-71 victory over the Bears in Boulder, hit a 3-pointer and a free throw to get the Buffs back within one possession midway through the second half.
Johnson was the only CU player to score in double figures with with 14 points, but the 6-7 freshman forward was just 4-for-14 from the field.
"Our game plan every time is defense and rebounding. If we do that we'll win," Johnson said. "In the second half we got out-rebounded a lot on our end of the floor and they were able to convert a lot of layups and open jump shots."
Wallace took full advantage of all the attention CU was paying to Crabbe and Cobbs. The 6-4 guard scored four points during a key spurt to give the Bears a 38-31 advantage and finished 8-for-12 from the floor.
Roberson completed a three-point play to cut the deficit to four points, but Wallace answered with a soaring dunk over the conference defensive player of the year candidate on the other end.
David Kravish's transition bucket after Jeremy Adams had a shot blocked by Crabbe in the paint gave Cal a 48-39 lead with 5:34 remaining.
Cal cruised from that point and led by as many as 19 points down the stretch.
"They were terrific defensively. When you play against a defense like that you have to be able to make shots," Boyle said. "Their defense was good, our offense wasn't good, and that's a recipe for disaster."
Sabatino Chen capped an otherwise ugly offensive performance in the first half with a 3-pointer just before the intermission to get the visitors within 24-20.
The senior guard's basket was the only made field goal from the bench in the game.
CU's starters weren't much better as the team made only 8 of 31 (25.8 percent) field goals and went 1-for-4 at the free throw line through 20 minutes.
The Buffs missed 13 of their first 15 shots and fell behind 14-8 after a basket by Wallace.
Askia Booker made a tough shot on the baseline, Spencer Dinwiddie hit a 3-pointer as the shot clock was expiring, and Roberson followed up his own miss for two points in the paint to give CU the lead with 4:48 remaining in the half.
Then with Crabbe on the bench in early foul trouble the Bears embarked on an 8-0 spurt highlighted by a Wallace dunk off a CU turnover.
Cal shot 45.8 percent in the first half despite Crabbe being limited to six points on 2-for-8 shooting.
The Bears improved to 14-0 when leading at halftime.
CU hosts No. 24 Oregon on Thursday and Oregon State on Saturday to conclude the regular season.
"We have to learn how to win in an environment like this," Scott said. "We're young and we have six freshmen this year. All any of us can do, and all coach expects from us, is to learn from games like this."
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California 62, Colorado 46
FG FT Reb
Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Johnson 36 4-14 3-6 3-7 0 2 14
Roberson 37 4-9 1-1 3-5 2 2 9
Scott 29 2-10 0-0 6-11 0 0 4
Booker 29 2-11 1-2 0-2 0 1 6
Dinwiddie 36 2-15 4-4 3-6 4 4 9
Talton 3 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0
Harris-Tunks 4 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 0
Chen 15 1-4 0-0 1-1 0 1 3
Adams 11 0-2 1-2 2-2 0 2 1
Totals 200 15-65 10-15 20-36 6 13 46
Percentages: FG .231, FT .667.
3-Point Goals: 6-21, .286 (Johnson 3-4, Chen 1-3, Booker 1-5, Dinwiddie 1-5, Roberson 0-4).
Team Rebounds: 2.
Blocked Shots: 1 (Johnson).
Turnovers: 6 (Roberson 2, Dinwiddie, Booker, Harris-Tunks).
Steals: 4 (Roberson 3, Booker).
Technical Fouls: None.
FG FT Reb
Min M-A M-A O-T A PF PTS
Solomon 23 2-6 2-2 5-6 0 4 6
Kravish 37 6-9 2-2 2-11 0 1 14
Cobbs 37 5-15 6-6 0-3 5 1 16
Wallace 38 8-12 0-0 3-11 1 0 16
Crabbe 32 4-10 0-0 1-7 5 3 8
Smith 15 0-2 0-0 1-1 1 0 0
Thurman 18 1-2 0-0 1-2 0 2 2
Totals 200 26-56 10-10 14-46 12 11 62
Percentages: FG .464, FT 1.000.
3-Point Goals: 0-6, .000 (Wallace 0-1, Crabbe 0-2, Cobbs 0-3).
Team Rebounds: 5.
Blocked Shots: 7 (Kravish 3, Crabbe 2, Solomon 2).
Turnovers: 11 (Crabbe 3, Wallace 2, Cobbs 2, Thurman, Solomon, Kravish).
Steals: 2 (Wallace, Kravish).
Technical Fouls: None.
Colorado 20 26--46
California 24 38--62
A -- 10,679.
Officials -- Kevin Brill, Dick Cartmell, Ken Ditty.
What went right
Xavier Johnson scored 14 points and pulled the visitors to within 42-37 with a pair of free throws with 8:21 remaining. CU also grabbed 20 offensive rebounds.
What went wrong
The Buffs made only 15 of 65 field goals (23.1 percent) and allowed Cal role players Tyrone Wallace (16 points, 11 rebounds) and David Kravish (14 points, 11 rebounds) to steal the show.
Star of the game
Wallace finished 8-for-12 from the field while the Buffs were focused on the Bears' usual stars (Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs).
The Buffs will host Oregon on Thursday at the Coors Events Center (7 p.m., ESPN2).