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Buffaloes turn back Cal, advance to Pac-12 final

Sat., March 10, 2012

Carlon Brown scored 17 points, Andre Roberson had 17 points and nine rebounds, and Colorado extended a remarkable run in its first Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament all the way to the final with a 70-59 victory over second-seeded California on Friday night in Los Angeles.

Austin Dufault scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half while playing in his school-record 133rd game for the sixth-seeded Buffaloes (22-11), who seized control with a 10-0 run down the stretch.

Brown scored five consecutive points during that run, and Colorado broke open a tight game by limiting the Golden Bears (24-9) to one field goal in an 81/2-minute span of the second half. Brown punctuated the win with a windmill breakaway dunk with 58 seconds to play.

After beating Cal for the second time in less than two weeks, Colorado will play for the title today against third-seeded Arizona, which eliminated ninth-seeded Oregon State.

Allen Crabbe scored 18 points and Justin Cobbs had 15 for the Bears, whose NCAA fate will be up in the air for the next two days. Cal coach Mike Montgomery thinks his team’s resume is strong enough to make its third NCAA appearance in his four seasons, but the Bears won’t know for sure until Sunday.

Colorado’s athletic director already has met with NIT officials about a bid – but the surprising Buffs might not need it.

Pac-12 player of the year Jorge Gutierrez had just 10 points for the Bears, who committed 17 turnovers and couldn’t answer Colorado’s second-half surge.

Colorado has made a splash in its new league’s tourney, knocking off Utah on Wednesday before beating third-seeded Oregon on Thursday night despite blowing a sizable late lead.

Colorado showed no fatigue early in its third game in three days, racing out to a 12-2 lead, capped by Nate Tomlinson’s second 3-pointer, to open the game. Cal responded with nine points from Cobbs, whose stellar defense one night earlier shut down Stanford freshman star Chasson Randle.

Roberson provided the first half’s biggest highlight with a soaring one-handed dunk over Harper Kamp, although Dufault also managed an impressive two-handed jam down the lane. Cal finished the half on a 10-2 run, pulling within 28-27 on Cobbs’ 3-pointer with 26 seconds left.

The Bears stumbled into the postseason with their first consecutive losses of the season, including a 70-57 defeat in Boulder on Feb. 26. Cal recovered from its loss to Stanford last Sunday by beating the Cardinal in the quarterfinals, but couldn’t manage a second straight revenge win.

Arizona 72, Oregon St. 61: Kyle Fogg scored 22 points and the Wildcats (23-10) rallied with a big run after halftime to defeat the Beavers (19-14) in the day’s first semifinal.

Jesse Perry had 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Solomon Hill added 12 before fouling out with 5:30 to play for the fourth-seeded Wildcats, who will seek their fifth tournament title in today’s final. Arizona’s four titles and 21 victories are the most of any school in the event’s 15-year history.

Roberto Nelson scored 19 points, Devon Collier added 15 and Jared Cunningham had 14 for the ninth-seeded Beavers, who were cheered courtside for the third straight game by alumni Gary Payton and A.C. Green.

But even with Payton chewing out a referee, the former NBA stars couldn’t help the Beavers withstand Arizona’s 20-3 run that opened the second half.

The Wildcats began the game on a similar run that threatened to turn the semifinal into a rout. Oregon State answered that one well enough to lead by seven at halftime.

The Wildcats fired up their 3-point arsenal, hitting three during the second-half outburst that produced a 47-37 lead. They were 9 of 18 from long range in the game.

Oregon State scored five in a row to get to 47-42 but never got any closer in their first semifinal appearance since 2005.

Fogg, Perry and Hill dominated for the second straight game. The trio combined for 55 of Arizona’s points in its 66-58 quarterfinal win over UCLA.

Arizona hit four 3-pointers in opening a 23-14 lead while the Beavers were slow to get untracked, starting out 3 of 10 from the floor. But Oregon State ignited with a 20-4 run over the final 6:58 to lead 34-27 at halftime. Cunningham had six points, Collier five and Joe Burton four in the spurt, which had Payton and Green on their feet clapping.

The Wildcats were held to only Fogg’s 3-pointer and a free throw by Nick Johnson during a stretch of 61/2 minutes. Fogg played in his school-record 137th game, breaking Jason Gardner’s record.

Arizona played without freshman guard Josiah Turner, who was suspended indefinitely before the tournament for the second time this season after he violated unspecified team rules.The Beavers’ 19 wins under Robinson are their most since having 22 in the 1989-90 season. They lost to the Wildcats in overtime in the regular season, and fell to 0-6 against them in the tournament.

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