BERKELEY -- No. 21 UNLV beat Cal 76-75 when Quintrell Thomas converted a putback off an airball by a teammate with 1.2 seconds left Sunday at Haas Pavilion.
But Allen Crabbe couldn't get past all the other ways the Golden Bears lost it.
"We had a great defensive play ... we were there," he said of the final sequence, when Cal forced Anthony Marshall into missing everything before Thomas bailed him out. "There's so many things you can think of that could have happened so we could have won the game -- it hurts."
The No. 13 certainly stands out:
The Bears (6-2) lost for the second straight game and complete the most challenging stretch of their nonconference schedule Saturday at home against No. 16 Creighton (9-1).
Justin Cobbs made two free throws with 11.4 seconds left to give Cal a 75-74 lead in a game it trailed by nine points late in the first half.
Cobbs then forced Marshall into a 15-foot airball, but Thomas redirected it into the basket. Solomon was called for a foul on the play, and Thomas intentionally missed the free throw.
Cal rebounded and used a timeout, but Cobbs' half-court shot was blocked just before the buzzer.
With new Cal football coach Sonny Dykes and former Cal great Shareef Abdur-Rahim sitting courtside, the Bears battled back from all their shortcomings and had a chance to win.
Montgomery went to a zone defense in the second half and frustrated the Runnin' Rebels (7-1) until guard Bryce Dejean-Jones (22 points) hit a couple deep 3-pointers.
The Bears went back to man-to-man, partly because they couldn't contain freshman big man Anthony Bennett, who finished with 25 points and 13 rebounds.
"He's a monster," Montgomery said.
Cal played much of the first half without Crabbe. The Pac-12's leading scorer at 22.4 points per game sat down after picking up his third foul with 6:49 left before halftime for swinging his elbows near defender Marshall.
"He flopped," Crabbe said. "I didn't even touch him."
Montgomery said he asked officials to double-check it, and they told him there was contact to the head, which is an automatic flagrant foul.
Cal got lifts from Solomon and freshman Tyrone Wallace, who had career-high games of 14 and 13 points, respectively. Crabbe wound up with 18 after scoring 13 in the second half.
Montgomery said it was both a good effort by his team and a wasted opportunity.
Given all the problems, he allowed, "I don't know that we could have asked for anything more than that. We just didn't finish it off."
Creighton (9-1) at Cal (6-2), 8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks