May 27, 2008
MONASTIR, Tunisia - Cal rising senior guard Alexis Gray-Lawson posted 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists to lead California to a 67-42 victory over the Tunisia National team Tuesday night at the Monastir Gym. The Golden Bears are 1-0 after the first of three games on their Africa tour and will face the same team again Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. local time in the same 4,000-seat facility.
Gray-Lawson was 4-of-6 from three-point range, and Cal converted 11-of-29 overall from beyond the arc, which is nine inches further than the United State's collegiate game (20 feet, six inches vs. 19 feet, nine inches). Junior guard Lauren Greif sank four of her seven three-point attempts to finish with 12 points and six boards.
Gray-Lawson was aggressive attacking the basket and got on the boards on both ends of the floor. One of Gray-Lawson's transition baskets came after a difficult hesitation, crossover and spin to the basket. The move left the Tunisian fans gasping as if they'd never seen anything like that.
At the beginning of the game, Cal had to adjust to the physical style of play allowed in the international game. Walker had some early looks that would not fall, and she was knocked to the floor but no foul was called.
The score was tied at 7-7 midway through the first quarter when Tunisia's Rim Gannar made the front end of a one-and-one to put her team ahead, 8-7. Junior guard Natasha Vital then hit a trey to spark a 13-0 run that put the Bears ahead, 20-8. Cal converted three three-pointers during that spurt that spanned from the 4:11 mark in the first quarter to the 9:12 mark in the second quarter.
Tunisia was led by Gannar and Henda Chebli in the first half. Chebli was extremely aggressive and physical. She was the host country's best low-block player and had a turn-around jumper that found its way past Walker's arms a couple times. Chebli and Walker had a competitive battle for most of the game. Gannar gave Cal some trouble with penetration and had seven points in the first half. Chebli and Gannar finished the game with a team-high 13 points.
Cal closed the half on a 19-10 run and entered halftime, 39-19. Gray-Lawson paced the Bears with 11 first-half points, and Greif had nine points on 3-of-3 from three-point range. Sneed, who played in the post, came off the bench and gave the Bears six first-half points on 3-of-3 shooting. Reserve forward Krista Foster had five first-half points and ended the game with six points.
Foster, who completed her eligibility in 2007-08, connected with Sneed on the block for two nice high-low connections (one in each half). The duo did their best Devanei Hampton and Walker impression. Hampton sat out the game as a precaution to rest her right knee, which she irritated earlier this month.
Tunisia pressed more in the second half, and Cal struggled with a couple of possessions with the eight-second rule to cross half court. But, the Bears eventually regained the momentum and continued to stretch their lead. Gray-Lawson heated up from three-point range, making all three of her second-half shots. Walker had six second-half points after adjusting to the style of play.
After the game, both teams took a picture together and then attended a brief reception. The teams interacted, and the Tunisian players asked the Cal players about their time spent in Africa so far. The Cal players learned the ages of the Tunisian players and some things about their lives in Africa. Chebli is 26-years-old, and the youngest player is 16-years-old.