WSU reaps benefits of duo's island telepathy

PULLMAN -- Long before there was the Tia & Lia Show there was the Dawnyelle & Lia Extravaganza. And for those who focus solely on headlines and point totals in Cougar women's hoops, it may come as a surprise that the Dawnyelle & Lia tandem -- which traces back to middle school on Hawaii's Big island -- is still going strong on the Palouse.

Junior Lia Galdeira and senior Tia Prelsey are second and third in the Pac-12 in scoring this season and are on path to finish their careers as the two greatest point makers in WSU history.

So the attention that's directed at them is easy to understand.

But that only tells part of the multi-faceted story of Cougar women's basketball.

One of the less-obvious, but critical, subplots is Galdeira's near-telepathic connection with Dawnyelle Awa, the junior point guard who is well on her way to leading the team in assists for a third-straight season.

"We call it the Hawaiian connection," says Cougar head coach June Daugherty. "They call each other sister, but there are times when there's been plays made where that would have never happened if those two hadn't played together for the last nine years, never would have happened."

Daugherty says there's a trust and familiarity between Awa and Galdeira that allows them to throw passes blind and know the other person will be there to catch it.

The two think of each other as family, and that bond has made it easy to team up for multiple baskets per game, they say. A simple eye movement, Galdeira notes, can dictate a big play between the two.

"Honestly, it just happens. (Dawnyelle) knows where I'm going to be, and every pass she throws, I know that I'll get it because she's that good out there. Her IQ is just unbelievable," Galdeira says.

Adds Awa, "It's cool to have someone here that knows how I play, knows me, so we hang out all the time and it's really cool."

The two began playing together in middle school in the shadow of Mauna Loa on the west side of the Island of Hawaii.

They clicked immediately, Galdeira says, and onlookers assumed they had known each other since they were babies based on how well they gelled.

Led by Dawnyelle's mom Bobbie, the head coach at Konawaena High, the tandem grew into an unbeatable combo. KHS won three state championships in their four years. Their sophomore year -- when Galdeira was injured -- was the only one without a title.

"She should be coaching at the next level. She's amazing," Galdeira says of Awa's mom.

The younger Awa was destined from birth to be a basketball player. Not only is mom a coach, but so is dad, who leads the Konawaena boys' team.

That parental influence is easy to spot in her point guard, says Daugherty.

"Dawnyelle is very well coached, and she's a product of both her mom and dad. She's grown up in the gym. She didn't grow up on the beach, she grew up at the gym, which is unusual for Hawaiian kids."

That heavy gym time might offer a clue to Awa's on-court demeanor.

"Whether we're up 20 or down 20, Dawnyelle is no different. She's got a lot of poise, she's able to stay in the moment, she doesn't panic, and she leads her group on both ends of the floor, no matter what's going on," Daugherty says.

Galdeira grew up about an hour away from Konawaena High but opted to go to school there because of the renowned program Bobbie Awa was running.

Between the demands of school and basketball, Galdeira spent more time at the Awa's house than her own, remembers Bobbi.

"It was crazy. It felt like a dream sometimes. It was tough at times, but it was a very different experience. I don't even know to explain it. It was just rough," Galdeira said of living in Konawaena with teammates.

Galdeira and Awa came to Pullman partly because of the tireless recruiting of WSU associate head coach Brian Holsinger. He flew to Hawaii multiple times to talk to the two players when they weren't responding promptly via text messages and Facebook. Holsinger's efforts made them realize the Pullman community was a family, too, Galdeira says.

Both received offers from WSU, Saint Mary's and Hawaii. After visiting WSU together, Galdeira made the commitment to WSU first. Awa needed a little time to discuss it with her family before deciding the Dawnyelle & Lia Show needed to continue through college.

NOTABLE NOTES
  • The Cougars, now 12-6 overall and 3-4 in Pac-12 play after downing Utah last night, play host to Colorado (9-9, 2-5) at 1 p.m. on Sunday. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks.

  • Last season the Cougs swept Colorado.

  • Galdeira has nine 20-point games this season, and 25 in her WSU career.

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