After three hours, three overtimes, 17 lead changes and more big plays than anyone could count, Cal left Haas Pavilion on Saturday night exhausted and lamenting the things that went wrong in a 107-105 loss to No. 21 Arizona.
"What can you say?" Cal coach Mike Montgomery said, when asked how he addressed his players afterward. "They knew they had chances. They played their hearts out, they played their butts off.
"If we can get a little smarter, we close that thing, we shut the trap door. We didn't do that."
The Pac-10 Conference-leading Wildcats (20-4, 9-2) came back from three points down in the waning seconds of regulation and again in the second overtime, finally escaping after the longest game Cal has played in Berkeley in 34 years.
The Bears (13-10, 6-5) had their four-game win streak snapped and dropped into a tie with Washington State for fourth place. Having lost twice by two points to Arizona after 95 minutes of action, Cal heads to Seattle on Thursday to play a Washington team that has lost three straight on the road but is unbeaten at home.
Junior forward Harper Kamp played all 55 minutes for Cal, scoring a career-high 33 points to go with 10 rebounds. Freshman Allen Crabbe played 54 minutes and had 27 points. Junior guard Jorge Gutierrez scored a career-high 25 before fouling out with 2:13 left in the first OT.
Even while Montgomery labeled his performance as "unbelievable," Kamp beat himself up a little for what didn't go right.
"I think it would selfish of me to take full responsibility for the loss, even though I let us down a few key plays," he said. "I'm sure everyone feels responsible. We had plenty of chances to win."
Said Jones, who scored a career-best 27 points, "You're not a New York guard if you don't want the ball at the end of the clock. Point blank, end of story."
Actually, that didn't come until the third overtime, when Arizona sophomore Kevin Parrom used his quickness and long arms to score five of his career-high 25 points.
Cal had one more real shot when Kamp made the first of two free throws to pull within 106-104 with 12.6 seconds left. Smith rebounded the miss and got the ball back to Kamp, who immediately misfired on an 18-footer.
Kyle Fogg made one free throw with 4.8 seconds left for a three-point lead, and Jones smartly fouled Smith with 1 second remaining. Smith had to make the first and miss the second -- which he did -- but Parrom rebounded to end the game.
Both teams played the overtimes without their best big men. Cal's Markhuri Sanders-Frison and Arizona's Derrick Williams, who had 12 points and 18 rebounds, fouled out late in the second half.
Arizona coach Sean Miller said he couldn't say enough good things about Cal.
"I almost feel bad winning," he said, "because we could have lost this game 10 times. But I don't feel that bad, you know."
Crabbe, who had just six points at halftime, became more aggressive as the game unfolded. He scored six points in the final 5 minutes of regulation, then had seven in the first overtime, including a jumper in the key off a spin move that tied it with 41 seconds left.
Acknowledging an energized crowd of 9,723, Crabbe said the game was fun, but not the outcome.
"This was a tough one," he concluded.
Asked how late he might sleep in on Super Bowl Sunday after his marathon performance, Kamp said, "I probably won't be able to. My body will probably hurt too much."
Cal (13-10, 6-5 Pac-10) at Washington (15-7, 7-4), 6 p.m.