BOULDER, Colo.– No. 19 California rallied from being 10 down twice – including a 50-40 deficit with 5:58 remaining in the game – to knock off No. 17 Colorado, 57-55, Friday night at the Coors Events Center.
The win keeps California’s (11-3, 3-0 Pac-12) Pac-12 regular season winning streak alive at 18 consecutive games while the Bears knocked off Colorado (11-3, 1-2 Pac-12) for the sixth straight meeting.
Trailing 55-54 with seven seconds remaining in the game, Afure Jemerigbe scored the go-ahead layup to put the Bears ahead, and Courtney Range stole Colorado’s inbounds pass and sank a free throw to give the Bears the clutch 57-55 victory.
In the last three meetings between the two teams, California has won by a combined 10 points. The Bears won a 53-49 thriller in Boulder last season before rallying from being 16 points down to defeat Colorado 59-56 in Berkeley last season.
Lindsay Gottlieb continued her perfect run against non-California based Pac-12 schools by improving to 28-0 in her Golden Bear career against schools from outside of the state.
Reshanda Gray led Cal with 15 points and added four rebounds while Brittany Boyd scored 13 points to go with eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Range, who returned to the starting lineup Friday, scored six points and had a game-high nine rebounds.
Colorado’s Arielle Roberson led all scorers with 21 points.
In the highly anticipated top 20 matchup, the teams traded baskets in the early going until Colorado forced California into a lengthy scoreless stretch to seemingly blow the game open. Trailing 18-17 with 7:33 to go in the first half, the Bears would not score another point until Gennifer Brandon hit a free throw with 1:15 left in the half to end the drought with Colorado leading 26-18.
The Buffs scored the final two points of the half to take a 28-18 halftime lead - the lowest offensive output in a single half for the Bears this season.
Coming out of the break, Gottlieb executed a full court press that effectively nullified the big lead with the Bears rushing out on a 7-0 run to start the second period. However, California could not force a tie or take the lead adn found themselves down by 10 points again, 50-40, with six minutes remaining.
Trailing 53-47 with 3:33 to go, the Bears would score the next seven points of the game to reclaim the lead for the first time since the opening minutes, highlighted by Range's free throws to put Cal ahead, 54-53.
Roberson put the Buffs back on top after sinking two free throws with 16 seconds to go before Jemerigbe - who scored all eight of her points in the final 5:15 of the game - scored the game-winning layup over Haley Smith.
California travels to Salt Lake City to take on Utah Sunday afternoon at 12 p.m. (PT) on the Pac-12 Networks.