What went right: CU played well defensively most of the night and held its own on the boards. The Buffs also forced 19 turnovers, converting them into 21 points.
What went wrong: The Buffs once again struggled to hit shots, making just 35.2 percent (25 of 71), and they couldn't get to the free throw line, going just 6-for-6.
Star of the game: Zoe Correal. The junior center had the best game of her career, posting career highs in points (16) and rebounds (15).
What's next: The Buffs host No. 9 Oregon State on Friday at 8 p.m. at Coors Events Center.
This season, the Colorado women's basketball team has proven it can play with the Bay Area schools.
On Sunday, the Buffaloes finally proved they can beat one of them.
Junior Zoe Correal had the best game of her career and the Buffs knocked off host California, 64-59, at Haas Pavilion.
The Buffs (14-11, 4-10 Pac-12) snapped a 16-game losing streak in Pac-12 road games and they have now doubled their conference win total from a year ago. CU's last conference road win came on Feb. 27, 2015, at Arizona.
"Just so happy that we finally were able to finish one off," CU head coach JR Payne said. "Not for us, for the coaches, but for the players. Just to come that close so many times and to not finish it, it's heartbreaking sometimes."
CU had lost five times in recent weeks after taking a lead into halftime, including all three previous matchups with the Bay Area schools, Cal and Stanford.
This time, they led wire-to-wire and got an unexpected monster game from Correal. The 6-foot-4 center had career highs of 16 points and 15 rebounds, posting the third double-double of her career, and her first in a Pac-12 game. Prior to Sunday, she had never scored more than eight points in a conference game.
"I just really had to fight hard for my team," said Correal, who came in averaging 4.3 points and 4.3 rebounds. "I had a rough night (on Friday at Stanford) and wanted to come out strong."
She certainly did that, and even out-played Cal star Kristine Anigwe, who finished with 15 points and five rebounds — well below her season averages of 22 points and 9.8 rebounds.
"I just had to do the little things, like focus and make sure I got a body on somebody every time, actively pursuing the rebound," Correal said.
Correal wasn't alone.
Alexis Robinson fought through foul trouble to score 15 points and dish six assists in only 22 minutes, and Haley Smith had nine points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore point guard Kennedy Leonard had another off night of shooting (2-for-11) and scored just nine points, but she also had seven assists. She had five of her points in the final 37 seconds to help the Buffs close the game.
A Correal layup with 4:27 to go gave the Buffs a 59-50 lead, but they didn't score for the next 3:50, as Cal closed the gap to 59-57.
Leonard then drilled a 3-pointer with 36.4 seconds to play and hit a pair of free throws in the closing seconds.
"I think the biggest difference (from previous games) was in the second half we continued with the game plan," Payne said. "Sometimes we get hesitant and things start to go downhill a little bit and I thought we were aggressive. And our execution at the end of the game was really good. And rebounding. We didn't win the rebounding (battle), but we came pretty darned close."
CU scored 21 points off of 19 Cal turnovers. ... Correal's previous highs were 11 points and 11 rebounds. ... Cal is ranked No. 24 in the USA Today Coaches' poll.
CU 64, California 59
At Haas Pavilion
COLORADO (14-11, 4-10 Pac-12)
Ellis 2-10 0-0 5, Robinson 5-11 2-2 15, Leonard 2-11 4-4 9, Correal 8-14 0-0 16, Smith 4-13 0-0 9, Caylao-Do 1-2 0-0 3, Watts 1-2 0-0 2, Freeman 0-1 0-0 0, Burich 2-3 0-0 5, Huggins 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 25-71 6-6 64..
CALIFORNIA (17-9, 5-9 Pac-12)
Thomas 5-10 3-4 14, Cowling 5-13 0-1 12, Cayton 4-9 0-0 8, Range 1-6 0-0 2, Anigwe 5-8 5-8 15, Davidson 1-4 2-2 4, Mosley 1-2 0-0 2, West 0-2 0-0 0, Brown 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-56 10-15 59..
Score by quarters:Colorado 24 11 12 17 — 64 California 16 12 16 15 — 59
3-point goals - CU 8-26 (Robinson 3-6, Smith 1-5, Leonard 1-4, Ellis 1-4, Caylao-Do 1-2, Burich 1-2, Huggins 0-3), Cal 3-14 (Cowling 2-6, Thomas 1-5, Cayton 0-2, Range 0-1). Rebounds - CU 37 (Correal 15), Cal 41 (Davison 11). Assists - CU 18 (Leonard 7), Cal 11 (Cowling 5). Turnovers - CU 10, Cal 19. Total fouls - CU 16, Cal 14. Fouled out - Cayton. A - 3,024.