WSU's Tia & Lia duo dynamic in so many ways

PULLMAN — The dynamic duo of Washington State's women's basketball team, guards Tia Presley and Lia Galdeira, are each so intense before a game that head coach June Daugherty advises teammates to steer clear. The two reigning All-Pac-12 performers also share a knack for scoring points in bunches. Off the court, though, they couldn't be more different -- and yet they've become like siblings.

In fact, they're so comfortable around each other that Presley had no qualms two years ago, while rooming on a road trip, to wake Galdeira in the middle of the night to refill the ice bag Presley was using for a torn ACL.

“She was like, ‘We have a game tomorrow,’ so we always joke about how she was like my servant while I tore my ACL. She had to do everything for me,” Presley, a senior from Spokane, said in a recent interview with

That included schlepping Presley around in a wheelchair, Galdeira doesn't hesitate to point out.

Such a show of support would have been hard to envision three years ago when Presley was a freshman and Galdeira came to Pullman for an official visit.

Galdeira, who hails from the west side of "The Big Island" of Hawaii, is so outspoken and so spirited that Presley remembers telling coaches, “No way, this is not going to work.”

“We didn’t clash, but I wasn’t a fan at first, let’s put it that way,” Presley said.

That trepidation melted quickly after Galdeira joined the team.

“As soon as she got here, our relationship totally changed, so it’s just kind of funny how sometimes first impressions aren’t everything,” Presley said.

Presley said the strong friendship they have developed helps them succeed on the court. Indeed, they are perhaps the most dynamic duo in WSU history. Both already are members of WSU's 1,000-career-points club -- two of the five fastest to reach that milestone. And last season, the two became the first-ever Cougar women to earn first-team all-conference honors in the same campaign.

This season they've picked up right where they left off. In Friday's season-opening victory over No. 22 Dayton they combined for 39 points, 9 rebounds and 7 steals. In Sunday's rout of Idaho State, they played but 16 minutes each and still produced a collective line of 53 points, 12 rebounds and 6 steals.

“When Lia’s playing great, I’m happy for her, and when I’m playing great, she’s happy for me,” Presley said. “When we both can play great together, it’s great for the team. It’s never been a competition at all of who can score more, or getting mad if one’s hot and the other’s not. It’s just the better we both can play together, the better our team will do, so we try to focus on that.”

Daugherty says the terrific tandem brings another, intangible element to the court. "Not every player in our program or any program is as confident as those two are, and that confidence is contagious, and it’s a good thing."

THE SIBLING-LIKE RELATIONSHIP between the two is captured succinctly by Galderia. “I’m more like the little brother, and she’s an annoying older sister that I want to punch in the face,” she says. “That’s why we’re so close. There’s nothing that can distract us on or off the court. When it’s game time, it’s game time, whether we’re fighting or not.”

The thing that turned off Presley during Galderia's official visit three years ago -- the unabashed spirit -- is a source of admiration today.

“I can always count on (Lia) to come out there and provide energy for the team, and I think that’s something we really need on our team, is people who play with constant energy, and who are always excited to be out on the floor and who are always competing,” Presley said.

Daugherty says she's hopeful improved post play for the Cougars this season will create more lanes and space for Presley and Galdeira.

“We are really looking for more consistency inside with our scoring," Daugherty said. "I think that Lia and Tia have worked really hard on their timing of getting the ball entered into the post in a position and a place and time where our front line is comfortable about scoring. I can tell you right now that Lia and Tia would love for our front line to have double figures in rebounding and scoring every night, and they’re not afraid to give the ball to them to get that done.”

  • The Pac-12 preseason coaches’ poll forecasts the Cougars to finish eighth in the conference -- despite returning leading scorers Presley and Galdeira, leading rebounder Dheensaw (223) and assists leader Dawnyelle Awa (115). “I’m not quite sure how we got picked eighth,” Presley said. “I guess all we can do is prove all the people that voted that wrong this year. I guess I’d rather be picked lower and pass everyone’s expectations than be picked high and not be able to live up to it, so I think we’re going to have a great year and I’m not too worried about the eighth pick at all.”

  • The 2-0 Cougs received 10 votes in the AP poll released yesterday, effectively placing them 36th in the country. They also received nine votes in the coaches' poll. With a win at home tomorrow night over No. 16 Nebraska it would seem near-impossible to keep WSU out of the poll next week. Indeed, with a win Wednesday night, WSU will have beaten two top 25 teams in its first three games.

  • Presley said she and Galdeira have never played HORSE together or faced off seriously in a one-on-one setting. However, Presley said that needs to happen at some point before she graduates.

  • This week the CouGals host No. 16-ranked Nebraska on Wednesday (8 p.m., Pac-12 Networks) and Seattle U on Friday (8:30 p.m.).


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