SAN ANTONIO — It didn’t take long for newcomer Lia Kioa to fit comfortably in a Rattler uniform as she led St. Mary’s in its 20-point victory over Harding University on Saturday.
Kioa (Jr., Phoenix) was lights out against the Bisons, hitting 50 percent from the floor with two 3-pointers for a season-high 18 points in St. Mary’s 78-58 victory.
Kioa was one of four Rattlers to break double-digits as Morgan Pullins (So., Franklin, Mich.) brought in 16 points and four steals, and Felicia Jacobs (Sr., San Antonio) and Dezirae Ellis (Fr., Chandler, Ariz.) both added 12 apiece.
“These girls are definitely easy to love,” said Kioa, who shot 8 of 16, of her transition onto the Rattlers. “Once we really click our team is going to be amazing. I love St. Mary’s and I love the chemistry I know we are about to build.”
In a game of contrasting halves, the Rattlers (4-2) were down two at the half to Harding (1-2), 33-31, before a guard-game took hold in the second as the Rattlers went on a non-stop run to bump their lead to 20 points 11 minutes in at 60-40. Shooting hot for the Rattlers was Kioa, who scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half alone, becoming the spark for the Rattlers’ victory.
“Second half we just really came together and started playing as a team,” said Kioa of the heavy lead picked up after halftime. “We started making the extra passes that we weren’t doing (in the first) and we were really just having fun and playing together.”
Although she tallied plenty of points, Kioa’s play is all but selfish as she also tied for the team-lead with five assists for the night.
“I don’t ever want to force anything,” said Kioa, who has 15 assists so far on the season, the second-most on the team. “I’m looking for my shot but if I see an open teammate with a better shot or a higher-percentage shot then I’m looking to dish it out.”
Adding another playmaker and sharp shooter in Kioa to the roster has fared well so far for the Rattlers to an already stacked team. Liz Boyd (Sr., San Antonio) was the other five-assister Friday and also added eight points. Boyd and Jacobs led at the boards, with each pulling down seven rebounds apiece.
The Rattlers play their third straight home game against Tarleton State University at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Bill Greehey Arena.
St. Mary’s University, as a Catholic Marianist University, fosters the formation of people in faith and educates leaders for the common good through community service, integrated liberal arts and professional education, and academic excellence. The University has six athletic national titles: men’s basketball (1989–NAIA), baseball (2001–NCAA Div. II), softball (1986–NAIA and 2002–NCAA Div. II) and an individual national champion in men’s golf (2006–NCAA Div. II) and a national academic championship in men’s golf (2009–NCAA Div. II). St. Mary’s also had more than 40 percent of its athletes named to conference, regional and/or national honor rolls this past year. St. Mary’s student–athletes graduation rate is 65 percent, higher than the NCAA Division II average of 55 percent. To learn more about St. Mary's, visit www.stmarytx.edu/athletics.