California players and fans celebrate after a win over Arizona on Saturday in Berkeley, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)
Berkeley, Calif. — Justin Cobbs hit a step-back jumper with 0.9 seconds left, and California stunned No. 1 Arizona 60-58 on Saturday night to hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
Cobbs dribbled to his left and beat Nick Johnson, then pulled up in front of a defender to sink the winning shot that sent a raucous, gold-shirt wearing crowd at Haas Pavilion spilling onto the court. Cal coach Mike Montgomery and security had to usher fans away before the final play.
Gabe York’s full-court pass was knocked down after the timeout to give the Golden Bears (15-7, 6-3 Pac-12) their first victory over a top-ranked opponent since Jan. 30, 1994, when they beat UCLA 85-70 at the Oakland Coliseum.
Arizona (21-1, 8-1), which had won a school-record 21 straight games, was one of just three unbeaten teams left in Division I. Now only second-ranked Syracuse (21-0), which outlasted No. 17 Duke 91-89 in overtime Saturday, and No. 4 Wichita State (23-0) remain.
Cobbs finished with 19 points and seven assists, David Kravish had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Richard Solomon scored 12 points to propel Cal to one of the biggest wins in school history. The Bears improved to 3-24 against teams ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll, and they had never beaten a top-ranked team in Berkeley.
Kaleb Tarczewski scored a career-high 18 points and grabbed six rebounds, and T.J. McConnell scored 13 points for the Wildcats, who shot just 32.3 percent from the floor. Cal shot 44.6 percent.
Cal attracted quite an audience for this one, too.
There were 21 scouts from 14 different NBA teams in attendance. Former Wildcats coach Lute Olson sat in the stands behind Arizona’s bench, and Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin — a Cal alum — also supported his Bears.
The Wildcats rallied from nine points down in the first half and eight in the second to set up a furious finish.
Arizona took the lead twice in the final minutes, and twice Cobbs came back with a tying score — first on a runner in the lane and then on a pair of free throws.
On the final sequence, Johnson missed a short jumper in the lane and Cal corralled the rebound. Cobbs let the clock tick down, then beat Johnson for a shot that will long be remembered in Berkeley.
Fans had to be pushed back off the court in a weird and wild scene, with the public address announcer screaming for them to get back. The Bears soon gave them reason to celebrate, keeping Arizona’s big front line at bay — just at it had from the start.
Kravish found Solomon for an alley-oop on Cal’s first possession. The pair took advantage even more on the inside after Arizona forward Brandon Ashley turned his right ankle going for a rebound and sat out on the bench the remainder of the game with a walking boot on his foot.
Solomon made his first six shots, including a short jumper that put the Bears ahead 28-19 late with 5:18 remaining in the first half. Arizona answered back by converting steals into easy baskets, closing the half on a 10-2 run to cut Cal’s lead to 30-29.
It was the seventh time Arizona has trailed at the half this season.
Both teams had to overcome adversity after the break. Johnson seemed to be bothered by an injury to his left hand — repeatedly shaking his wrist after shots and grimacing — and Solomon was stuck in foul trouble.
The Bears began to pull away, taking a 50-42 lead on a pair of free throws by Cobbs with 11 minutes to play. But Arizona, just like it did all game, came back and tied the game at 54 with 6 minutes left to set up a wild sequence down the stretch.