A broken play opened the door for Dwight Tarwater to become the latest California player to deliver in the clutch. The fifth-year senior responded with what he called “the shot of my life.”
Tarwater took a pass from Tyrone Wallace and made a three-pointer with 18.9 seconds left after teammate Jabari Bird was late coming across the court, and the Golden Bears hung on to beat UCLA 64-62 on Saturday for their third consecutive win in the final moments.
Bird made two late, critical three-pointers and scored 16 points for the Bears (15-9, 5-6 Pac-12). Sam Singer added 13 points off the bench while Wallace had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
California trailed 62-58 with 1:30 remaining.
Bird drilled a three-pointer to pull the Bears within one, 62-61. After Kevon Looney missed the front end of a one-and-one with 37.3 seconds left, Cal worked the ball to Tarwater in the left corner for a high-arcing three-pointer.
“That was the only way that was going in,” Bears Coach Cuonzo Martin said. “He had to get it up there. We had the spacing we needed. It was just a matter of making a play.”
The Bruins (14-10, 6-5) had a final chance to win, but Bryce Alford’s deep three-pointer hit the back of the rim.
The lead changed hands seven times over the final 14 minutes, the last coming on Tarwater’s game-winner.
It’s the third consecutive game Cal has won in the final seconds. Singer made a three-pointer with five seconds left in the Bears’ 90-88 win over Washington on Feb. 1. Wallace followed with a game-winning three at the buzzer to lift Cal past USC 70-69 on Thursday.
This one extended the Bears’ winning streak to four, but Cal remains in the middle of the Pac-12 Conference.
The Bruins, who had won their previous three, could have moved into sole possession of third in the Pac-12 with a win.
“We just didn’t close the game,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said. “The last 2 1/2 minutes it was a 0-7 run by them, so we just couldn’t close the game out and that’s something that we’ve got to work on.”
Until their late comeback, the Bears couldn’t stop UCLA’s inside game. Tony Parker scored 20 points for the Bruins, two shy of his career-high, while Looney had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Cal also scored some late magic in the first half.
Jordan Mathews scored 12 points in the first half for Cal, the final two coming on a buzzer-beating tip-in of Wallace’s long miss that gave the Bears a 32-28 halftime lead. Mathews was hurt on the play when he collided with Bird as both players went up for the ball.
The Bears had led 26-16 with just over six minutes left when Alford sparked a late surge by the Bruins.
UCLA carried the momentum over to the second half, opening with a 12-2 run capped by Alford’s short floater. Looney scored six points during the burst, including an emphatic two-handed dunk.
Oregon State, Wednesday, 7 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion, Pac-12 Networks — The Beavers have been the surprise of the Pac-12 season with wins against Arizona and UCLA, in the teams' first meeting at Corvallis.