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Tristan da Silva powers second-half surge that lifts Colorado men’s basketball past Cal


Snapshot: CU Buffs MBB 59, California 46

Turning point: CU reeled off a 26-5 run that buried the Golden Bears in the second half.

Buff of the game: Tristan da Silva. The junior forward shot 7-for-13 overall and 3-for-6 on 3-pointers, scoring 17 of his game-high 20 points after halftime.

What’s next?: The Buffs will seek a home sweep when they host Stanford on Sunday (5 p.m., FS1).

Tristan da Silva insists he simply is trying to let each and every game come to him without forcing anything.

Still, with Colorado’s offense once again floundering, the Buffaloes sorely were in need of a spark. And after halftime, da Silva gamely stepped to the forefront to deliver.

The junior forward for the CU men’s basketball team sparked a second-half rally that saved the Buffs from another potentially embarrassing result against lowly California, as Colorado was able to take control down the stretch to pull away from the Golden Bears for a 59-46 victory in a Pac-12 Conference battle on Thursday night at the CU Events Center.

The win ended a slide of five losses in six games for the Buffs, who also won their sixth consecutive home game against the Golden Bears.

“I got some easy looks I felt like. Maybe they left me open a little bit more because I wasn’t playing so well in the first half,” da Silva said. “I got a couple open looks and a couple easy baskets around the rim. I’m just trying to play the game the right way, and I happened to score right out of the gate in the second half.”

Cal led by 10 points late in the first half, but a 7-0 run by the Buffs to end the frame cut the Bears’ lead to 27-24 at the break.

The teams traded baskets early in the second half, with da Silva scoring CU’s first 12 points after halftime. With da Silva finally breaking the ice offensively after the Buffs shot .250 in the first half with 10 turnovers, Colorado reeled off 13 consecutive points to spark what turned into a 26-5 run. That burst erased a six-point lead for the Bears and gave CU a 54-39 lead with 5 minutes, 35 seconds remaining.

“Tristan’s been playing at such a high level the last two and a half, three weeks,” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “Earlier in league play he had his ups and downs. He had his inconsistencies, so to speak. But lately, he’s been playing at a pretty darn high level. And tonight, we got some support. KJ (Simpson) I thought played really, really well. Luke O’Brien and Jalen Gabbidon came off the bench and really gave us a shot in the arm, I thought.”

Da Silva went 7-for-13 overall, 3-for-6 on 3-pointers and 3-for-4 at the free throw line before finishing with 20 points. He became the first CU player to score at least 20 points in four consecutive games since Josh Scott early in the 2015-16 season.

Simpson added 10 points, four assists and three steals, while O’Brien and Gabbidon added nine points apiece off the bench.

After allowing Cal to shoot .580, the top shooting mark by a CU foe this season, during a loss in Berkeley on New Year’s Eve, the Buffs held the Bears to a .372 mark while forcing 22 Cal turnovers. The Buffs committed only one turnover after halftime.

“I talked to our team at halftime about the fact we shot 25% in the first half. Had some good looks and turned it over 10 times…but you shoot 25% and you’re down three at half, it means you’re doing something right. It means you’re really battling, fighting and scratching and clawing. We didn’t let our frustrations on offense leak over to our energy and execution on defense. That’s a sign of maturity. It’s a sign of mental toughness.”

Colorado 59, California 46

CALIFORNIA (3-19, 2-9 Pac-12)

Kuany 2-10 6-7 10, Newell 4-10 0-0 8, Alajiki 2-3 0-0 6, Thiemann 3-5 1-1 7, Brown 1-8 2-2 5, Roberson 0-1 1-2 1, Okafor 1-3 0-0 2, Bowser 0-0 0-0 0, Anyanwu 2-2 0-0 4, Robinson 1-1 0-0 3. Totals 16-43 10-12 46.

COLORADO (13-11, 5-8 Pac-12)

da Silva 7-13 3-4 20, Lovering 2-4 0-4 4, Simpson 4-10 2-2 10, Hadley 0-0 0-0 0, Clifford 0-3 0-1 0, O’Brien 2-5 4-4 9, Hammond III 1-6 1-3 4, Gabbidon 3-8 3-4 9, Wright 0-0 1-2 1, Ruffin 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 19-50 16-26 59.

Halftime — Cal 27-24. 3-point field goals — Cal 4-11 (Kuany 0-2, Newell 0-1, Alajiki 2-3, Brown 1-4, Robinson 1-1). Colorado 5-18 (da Silva 3-6, Simpson 0-2, Clifford 0-1, O’Brien 1-3, Hammond III 1-2, Gabbidon 0-3, Ruffin 0-1). Rebounds — Cal 32 (Newell 6); Colorado 33 (O’Brien 7). Assists — Cal 9 (Brown 3); Colorado 9 (Simpson 4). Total fouls — Cal 22, Colorado 18. A — 6,712.