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Daughter of Cook Islands is a first in women’s basketball on the #1 team

Baton Rouge, LOUISIANA —A young Polynesian woman from Melbourne, Australia is a first on the U.S. women’s college basketball circuit — playing for the team that just won its first-ever National basketball title in the March Madness final on April 2, 2023. Her team is Louisiana State University and her name is Last-Tear Poa.

Poa came off the LSU bench in the March Madness final game producing solid defense against Iowa's Caitlin Clark and then came up with a couple of big 3 pointers. 

Poa started playing basketball when she was 10 years old and after finding success in Australia decided to take her game to the U.S.

Last year she played for Northwest Florida State College and led her team to a NJCAA championship during her freshman season.

She then transferred to LSU for this season and earned a spot in the regular rotation of players.

Her family is originally from the Cook Islands and her given name pays homage to her great-grandmother. Although Poa never met her great-grandmother who died shortly before she was born, shedding one last tear from her left eye just before she died.

“And, I have a beauty mark just beneath my left eye in the same spot where my great-grandmother's tear fell," Poa told The Advocate in an interview recently. "So I am named in her memory. It is a part of our culture."

The 5-foot-11 Poa said while she enjoys life in Baton Rouge and appreciates the culinary options, particularly a burger with mac and cheese from The Chimes (with a brownie as dessert), she misses the food she knows best. She cooks Polynesian cuisine in Louisiana, but she also considers herself a pasta girl and prepares a mean chicken Alfredo before every game.

"Before games, I sit and eat my chicken Alfredo by myself and call my siblings, Heavenly and Kingston, back home," The Advocate quoted her saying, "I love being a big sister."

Poa said she sees the parallels between being a big sister and being a teammate.

"On this team, we believe in helping each other out," she said. "If you're down, someone will pick you up."