Cal's unbeaten home record is gone. So is first place in the Pac-12 Conference after a 78-74 loss to Arizona on Thursday night at Haas Pavilion.
This one might have hurt as much the Bears' 107-105 triple-overtime loss to the Wildcats here a year ago. Certainly it could prove more costly.
The Bears (17-6, 7-3) fell out of a tie for first place in the Pac-12, with Washington holding off UCLA 71-69 to take sole possession of the top spot.
A loud and largely gold-clad crowd of 9,690 fans couldn't quite coax a 15th straight home victory out of the Bears. Arizona senior guard Kyle Fogg's 3-point shot from the right corner with 1:19 left broke a 72-all tie and sent the Cats (15-8, 6-4) to victory.
"We just couldn't make plays down the stretch," said Cal coach Mike Montgomery, whose team managed just two free throws in its final seven chances with the ball. "We needed to get better shots, keep our poise. We didn't do that."
Down 14 points early in the second half and 11 with 81/2 minutes left, the Bears repeatedly fought back, fueled by their two seniors. Harper Kamp, who had 33 points in the triple-OT game last season, scored a season-high 22. Jorge Gutierrez added 18, and seemed to get extra energy from an unusual incident on the sideline.
While trying to save a pass, Gutierrez fell into the Arizona bench and got tangled with Cats assistant coach Joe Pasternack -- the one-time Cal aide. Gutierrez came away furious,
Gutierrez was not made available in the postgame interview session, but Kamp said, "I didn't see what happened. He (Gutierrez) felt Coach P said something and extended his leg and tried to kick him, something like that. I know they're both passionate guys."
Arizona coach Sean Miller said he wasn't sure what happened. Montgomery said of Gutierrez, "In his opinion, one of the coaches on the other team did something he shouldn't."
Moments after the flap, Gutierrez scored on a reverse layup to pull the Bears within 72-70. Cal then tied the score for the first time since 28-all when Justin Cobbs stole the ball from freshman point guard Josiah Turner and raced for a dunk 3:40 left.
It was the Bears' final field goal of the night, and neither team scored again until the big shot by Fogg, who led the Wildcats with 23 points.
Gutierrez got two points back at the free throw line after Solomon Hill fouled out with 58.9 seconds left, but Jesse Perry responded with a layup for Arizona and later made one of two free throws to ice the win. Cal missed its final three shot attempts, two of them blocked by the Wildcats.
Cal led 22-9 with 101/2 minutes left in the first half before Arizona heated up -- and that's an understatement -- to close the half with a 36-12 run.
The Wildcats made 14 of their final 16 field-goal attempts in the half and shot 63 percent in the period after missing eight of their first 11 attempts.
"I know teams give up runs," Kamp said, "but that was unacceptable."
Montgomery agreed the game was probably lost over the final 10 minutes of the first half.
"Their physical play threw us off, got us off our game," he said. "We fought back, but we should not have been that far behind."
The Wildcats then made five of their first six shots to open the second half, meaning they converted 19 of 22 in a span of 151/2 minutes. That let them inch a 45-34 halftime lead to 56-42 with 16:04 left in the second half.
Allen Crabbe added 15 points for Cal but shot just 4 for 12 and was contained on the perimeter by Arizona. Cal was 1 for 8 from the 3-point line, while the Cats converted 7 of 11.