BERKELEY, Calif. — — Coach Tad Boyle called it a must-win situation for his Colorado Buffaloes.
CU got the victory they needed, outlasting Cal for a 68-59 win, but it was a performance that at times was as dominant as it was nerve-racking for the Buffs.
The Buffs controlled the first half, and after scoring the first seven points after halftime CU held what felt like an insurmountable advantage against a Golden Bears squad that has yet to win a Pac-12 Conference game.
The host Bears had other plans, gradually erasing the Buffs' advantage to take a 54-53 lead with seven minutes remaining. CU immediately answered with seven consecutive points, getting a putback basket from Tyler Bey, a 3-pointer from Lucas Siewert, and a pull-up jumper from McKinley Wright to regain some breathing room.
Cal remained within two points with about four minutes remaining, but CU outscored Cal 8-1 the rest of the way to hold on. That game-ending run featured another 3-pointer from Wright, who returned to the starting lineup after missing Sunday's loss at Utah due to a left shoulder injury.
Bey posted his sixth double-double of the season with 17 points and 14 rebounds, while Siewert finished with a team-leading 18 points.
CU had been 0-5 at Haas Pavilion as a Pac-12 program and entered the game 1-12 at Cal overall.