Cal women's basketball hits the boards to pull out close one

Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsCal’s Brittany Boyd and Talia Caldwell celebrate after hanging on for a big road victory against No. 20 Colorado on Sunday.

Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsCal’s Brittany Boyd and Talia Caldwell celebrate after hanging on for a big road victory against No. 20 Colorado on Sunday.

Unable to hit free throws with any consistency down the stretch, No. 7 Cal still found a recipe for success with some old-fashioned defense and rebounding.

Brittany Boyd scored 15 points, Reshanda Gray and Afure Jemerigbe both rebounded missed free throws in the late going and Layshia Clarendon figured in a defensive stop that prevented a last-second shot as Cal hung on to beat No. 20 Colorado 53-49 on Sunday.

“That was very important,” Boyd said of Cal’s physical finish. “I think rebounding is the key to our team. I just think we were dialed in, focused and didn’t want to lose.”

Jemerigbe and Gray added 10 points apiece for Cal (12-1, 2-0 Pac-12 Conference), which is off to its best start ever. The Golden Bears won their sixth straight since their only loss of the season, a 77-63 setback at No. 3 Duke. It was Cal’s fourth win in a row against Colorado, which still leads the series 5-4.

Chucky Jeffery scored 10 of her 13 points in the second half, leading a rally by Colorado (11-2, 0-2 Pac-12). But she also committed a key turnover — forced by Clarendon’s tenacious defense in the final moments — that denied the Buffaloes a chance to get off a final shot.

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