Sarah Andrews ‘hungry’ for NCAA tourney

Senior guard Sarah Andrews shoots a pull-up jump shot over a Cougar defender during Baylor women's basketball's conference game at Houston on Feb. 4 in the Fertitta Center. Michael Haag | Sports Editor

By Micheal Haag | Sports Editor

Deciding to use her fifth-year of eligibility was a no-brainer for senior guard Sarah Andrews.

The decision was twofold: Get to stay with a Baylor women’s basketball program that she loves and continue to develop with her eyes set on the WNBA.

“I was just like, ‘If I’m blessed enough to have the opportunity to play for this fanbase and this program again, why not take it?’” Andrews said. “The [WNBA] is always my dream, but right now I have unfinished business in college that I want to take care of.

“I don’t think I’ve played the best basketball that I have. … When I tell you I have so much left in me and so much more that I want to show and prove that I’m hungrier than ever.”

Andrews is in the midst of her fourth year with the Bears, one that’s been shaky for the Irving native. When Baylor opened the season 14-0, she recorded double-digit points in 12 of those contests. But it’s been up-and-down play since, as she’s failed to hit double figures in four of the last six.

Those offensive woes don’t bother the team, though, as graduate student forward Aijha Blackwell said Andrews’ leadership is unmatched.

“She wants to work, like she put her head down and she hasn’t given up or been shy,” Blackwell said. “We believe in Sarah. And so with that pressure, she’s going to come [through].”

Andrews, who entered the season as the only Bear with more than two years of experience with the program, said she had to become more vocal as a leader this season. She used to have veterans like Caitlin Bickle (2022-23) or NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo (2021-22), but that responsibility fell on her shoulders.

And like anyone in a leadership position, she said there are days it’s not easy to have that presence.

“I’d be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t a challenge,” Andrews said. “I have bad games. I have bad days.”

But she added that it’s the “sisterhood” that keeps the team together most.

“Going into March, we’re probably the tightest we’ve ever been because I know that no matter what, they have my back,” Andrews said. “And when you lose, you have so many people on the outside that tell you what you should do. … But at the end of the day, I know who I’m in there fighting with in practice, in that locker room, and I know who I go to war with every day. And I know when I step on that court, as long as I have that staff and that team with me, I know everything’s perfectly fine.”

Senior guard Jana Van Gytenbeek said Andrews’ guidance is a huge reason the team feels confident going into the NCAA Tournament.

“We all look to her and everything she does, even if she doesn’t feel like it,” Van Gytenbeek said. “Sarah is just kind of a natural leader and because she’s so good, it’s very easy to follow her. … She’s funny and kind, she’s a baller and she does a really good job of keeping everybody together, and I admire her.”

The 5-foot-6 guard became the 40th player in program history to to hit 1,000 career points, something she accomplished against Southern on Nov. 6. Andrews is also a two-time all-conference pick that ranks second all-time in Baylor women’s basketball history with 229 made 3-pointers. Odyssey Sims holds the record at 258.

That type of experience is invaluable to Collen, who said Andrews has a real ability to play at the next level.

“She must not dislike me that much, to put up with me for a fourth year,” Collen quipped. “I’m definitely excited to have someone back who understands what we do, that knows how to play with the ball in her hands, that teams have to guard. It’s much easier to guard [a] ball screen with no threat to shoot behind it. Sarah gives you that triple threat off a ball screen. And I think next year, we’ll get her back to making her mid-range shot.”

The unanimous preseason All-Big 12 pick will look to lead the Bears past either Vanderbilt or Columbia in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 5 p.m. on Friday in Blacksburg, Va., on ESPNU.

Andrews said this year’s team is capable of hitting another gear and making a deep run.

“I don’t know what it is about us and top-25 matchups or whenever we’re the underdogs in situations, but we come out with a different type of firepower,” Andrews said. “I love this team and I think right now we’re hungry and we know it’s win or go home, so I feel there’s no doubt in my mind that we’re about to play our best basketball and we’re about to go try to cut down a net and bring it back to Waco.”

Michael Haag is a third year Journalism student from Floresville, a small town about 30 miles south of San Antonio. Haag is entering his third year at the Lariat and is hoping to continue developing his sports reporting skill set. After graduation, he plans to work on a Master’s degree in Journalism in order to one day teach at the college level. He does, however, plan on becoming a sports reporter for a publication after grad school.