By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor freshmen Sarah Andrews and Hannah Gusters have a strong connection on the court, and it’s no surprise. Andrews and Gusters were high school teammates at MacArthur High School in Irving. That longtime friendship has continued to benefit the dynamic duo in Waco.
“It plays a big role in the chemistry we have,” Andrews said. “We’ve played together so many years, so I know where [Gusters] excels best. I know where to get her the ball. I know what she does best, and she knows what I do best.”
Gusters, the No. 9 overall player in her class, was the first of the two to decide on Baylor, committing in May of 2019. Andrews, the nation’s No. 7 player, would join Gusters as a commit in November of 2019, but there was never a joint decision between the two.
“[Andrews] decided that on her own,” Gusters said. “I had made my decision a whole summer before she committed, and I didn’t even know that’s where she was going.”
While their college team-up may have been something of a surprise, both Andrews and Gusters have found ways to excel as freshmen on a team still defending a national title. Gusters is averaging over eight points a game while shooting over 70% from the floor. She’s been the model of consistency this season, with a high point coming during a four-game stretch in the season where she averaged 15.5 points per game. As Gusters has come into her own, head coach Kim Mulkey noted that she falls right in line with past Baylor greats.
“We’re known for our post play,” Mulkey said. “But we’re also known for our posts that get up and down the floor, because we’re not walking it up.”
Andrews has also found success putting the ball in the bucket, averaging over five points a game, while shooting 35% from downtown. In a January game against TCU, Andrews erupted for 18 points, all of which came in the fourth quarter. It’s clear both players are developing rapidly, something they credit the Baylor program for.
“I knew coach Mulkey was going to keep it real no matter what the circumstances [were],” Andrews said. “She wasn’t going to tell me what I wanted to hear. She was going to tell me what I needed to hear, and I knew that they could take my game to the next level.”
Gusters echoed Andrews’s sentiment about growth, noting how far she’s come since being at Baylor
“I feel like [my game] has come a long way already,” Gusters said, “just having to get used to getting in shape, playing hard all the time, just doing different things that in high school you’re not used to doing. I definitely still have a long way to go, but I’ve come so far in such a short period of time.”
Looking toward the rest of this season, both Gusters and Andrews will be heavily relied upon if the Lady Bears want to make a deep tournament run. Both players routinely play over 15 minutes a night, over 37% of the game. Their development is crucial for this Baylor team, especially since Andrews and Gusters play the same positions as seasoned veterans like DiDi Richards, Moon Ursin and NaLyssa Smith.
Should any of those players get into foul trouble in a tournament game, the freshmen will be called upon to step up and lead the team. Even this early, Andrews thinks she’s getting to that point. After her breakout performance against TCU, her confidence surged.
“I went through a slump, missed a couple shots,” Andrews said. “Coach Mulkey looked at me on the sidelines and said, ‘Body language!’ It’s all about confidence and knowing that I can knock the shot down every time.”