Colorado couldn't get defensive stops when it mattered most, dropping a 68-61 decision to California.
"The bottom line, I think, in a game like this is we didn't play well enough in the second half to win this game," said head coach Tad Boyle.
The loss is CU's seventh in its last nine games. The Buffs find themselves under .500 (11-12) for the first time this season.
For the second straight game, Colorado struggled to defend the perimeter. After letting Utah shoot over 13-of-22 from beyond the arc, Colorado conceded 10-of-22 from downtown against California. The Bears' five first half three-pointers accounted for a majority of their offense. California shot just 5-of-16 from inside the arc in the first half.
"I would say we've struggled guarding the three-point line all year, honestly," said Josh Scott. "We've got to get better in that area."
Colorado struggled mightily from the floor in the first half as well, shooting 32 percent. Scott led CU in scoring with just five points as the Buffs entered the locker room down 28-27.
After falling behind by as many as 11 points in the second half, Colorado mounted a comeback, cutting the deficit, as Scott began to dominate the paint, converting layups and getting to the free-throw line. With 1:43 left, Askia Booker knocked down a three-pointer following an offensive rebound by Tre'Shaun Fletcher.
Boyle called timeout after the Booker three to set up his defense. Cal's Sam Singer missed an open three from the right corner, and Scott grabbed one of his eight rebounds on the night. On the other end, Colorado was able to collapse the defense, freeing Scott, who missed a 17-footer on the left baseline. Cal's Tyrone Wallace drove and hit a floater in the lane, putting his Bears up by four with 21 seconds remaining.
"I thought the key of the game was Tyrone Wallace down the stretch and David Kravish down the stretch for Cal made big shots, made big buckets," said Boyle. "We couldn't quite match that."
Boyle's Buffs wrap up the homestand against Stanford on Sunday.