PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Around 7 p.m. on Jan. 14, you could hear a pin drop in the Chiles Center.
“Those next 48 hours just waiting for the results were the worst. I don’t think I slept very much,” recalled Portland point guard Haylee Andrews.
On a non-contact play against Gonzaga, Andrews crumbled to the ground. There was hope she had not torn her ACL for the second season in a row.
Unfortunately, her worst fear was confirmed, and the worst part about it? Her eligibility was exhausted. There would be no opportunity to put on the purple and white again.
“The hardest part was just knowing I was never going to play in the Chiles Center again for the Portland Pilots,” said Andrews, who was on track to break UP’s all-time assists record before the injury.
Admittedly, this time around it took Andrews a bit longer to accept that her role on this team would have to be from the bench, but she got there.
During the WCC Tournament championship game, she gave an impassioned speech at halftime that helped rally her team back from an 11-point deficit against Gonzaga.
After winning that game, Andrews was the person the team wanted to place their team’s sticker as the last squad standing on the bracket.
“It just feels very special to me to see how much they really care,” said the Aussie. “They’re just amazing people. The whole team has just been amazing through this whole process again. I’m glad they’ve got my back and I’ve also got theirs.”
That’s certainly evident when you talk to Haylee’s teammates.
“We’re going to have Haylee on the side with us. She’s going to be there to coach us. We’re all going to listen to what she says. There’s just such an emotional connection that we have with her being out and her wanting to be on the court. We’re doing this for her,” said WCC Tournament MVP Alex Fowler.
“She would die to be on the floor right now. We’re doing everything for her. She’s a leader off the court and just because she’s not on the court doesn’t mean her influence is not felt, so this is all for Haylee,” said fellow starter Maisie Burnham.
Still, being in the NCAA Tournament but not actually playing in the NCAA Tournament will understandably be tough for Andrews.
She’s determined, though, to take the emphasis off the bitter and put it on the sweet.
“It’ll definitely be hard. I still have my moments,” said Andrews, pausing. “But just to know that we’re going anyway, and I get to be right with my team on the bench, every little bit involved as I would be on the court, just makes me really happy.”