McKinley Wright IV scored 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead fifth-seeded Colorado to a 56-51 win over 12th-seeded California in an opening-round game of the Pac-12 tournament on Wednesday afternoon in Las Vegas.
Colorado (20-11) will face No. 4 Oregon State (18-12) in a quarterfinal game Thursday. California ends its season at 8-23.
D’Shawn Schwartz (11 points and eight rebounds) was the only other double-figure scorer for Colorado, which committed 23 turnovers but outrebounded Cal 40-19. Tyler Bey led the Buffaloes with 11 rebounds.
Matt Bradley led Cal with 17 points, and Justice Sueing had 10.
Bradley’s 3-point attempt with five seconds left banged off the rim, and Bey grabbed the rebound to preserve the 54-51 lead. Bradley’s shot happened after a 3-pointer by Wright with 14 seconds left was negated because of a shot-clock violation.
Bey made both free throws after he was fouled with two seconds remaining to secure the win.
Colorado built as much as a nine-point lead in the first half before taking a 28-22 halftime lead.
Wright and Colorado’s Daylen Kountz were each 3 of 3 from the field in the first half. Wright’s field goals before halftime were all from 3-point range.
California outscored Colorado 7-2 to start the second half, cutting the deficit to 30-29 with 16:43 left in regulation.
A Sueing layup kept the game close for Cal, which trailed 37-35 with 13:24 to go. However, the Golden Bears then went on a scoring drought of almost six minutes, and Colorado scored eight unanswered points to take a 45-35 lead.
Sueing made a 3-pointer with 7:30 remaining to end an 0-of-8 stretch from the field for the Golden Bears, but Schwartz answered with a 3-pointer on the next possession.
Colorado’s propensity for turnovers in the game allowed Cal to continue to be a threat. After the Buffaloes committed their 20th giveaway, the Golden Bears cut the difference to 50-47 with 3:44 left on a Paris Austin 3-pointer. Again, Schwartz immediately answered with a 3-pointer to give Colorado some separation.
—Field Level Media