Bueckers, No. 7 UConn Women Rout Hoyas in Big East Quarters – NBC Connecticut

UConn coach Geno Auriemma says sophomore star Paige Bueckers wasn’t where she wanted to be when she returned from knee surgery, but she’s getting there.

Bueckers came off the bench to score 16 points on Saturday and the No. 7 UConn routed Georgetown 84-38 in the Big East Tournament quarterfinals.

Last season’s National Player of the Year, who suffered a broken tibia plateau and torn meniscus in her left knee on December 5, played 18 minutes in her third return game. She shot 6 of 9 overall and 4 of 5 from 3-point range. She also had five rebounds and four assists.

“She impacts the game in so many different ways,” Auriemma said. “To be able to add someone like that to your team, I think it’s quite important. Not many people will be able to do that at this time of year. But she’s still a long way from where we need her.

Christyn Williams added 15 points, Aaliyah Edwards had 14 and Azzi Fudd scored 11 for the Huskies (23-5).

Mary Clougherty had 10 points for Georgetown, which had won three in a row and finished at 10-19.

“Right now it’s not about Georgetown or any other team in the Big East right now,” coach James Howard said. “It’s about them [UConn]. It’s about them finding their chemistry to move forward in this tournament and in the NCAA.

The Huskies took control early, scoring the final 19 points of the first quarter to take a 22-6 lead. Williams had 13 points in the period.

Nika Muhl, chosen as Big East Defensive Player of the Year on Thursday, capped that streak at 23-0 with a steal and layup that put the Huskies up 26-6. UConn held the Hoyas without a basket for nearly 15 minutes.

Bueckers’ first field goal of the game, a 3-pointer from left wing, made it 40-9 and UConn entered the halftime lead 43-9.

“If we start aggressively defensively, that takes us forward,” Williams said. “I just think we have to play all our games like that and with that mindset.”

Hoyas guard Kelsey Ransom, who was averaging 12 points per game, was on crutches and on the bench Saturday after twisting his right ankle in Georgetown’s first-round win over Providence. Forward Jillian Archer played 15 minutes before injuring her left ankle and sitting out the rest of the game.

BIG PICTURE

Georgetown: The Hoyas, who used a 33-2 run to help beat Providence 68-55 in the first round on Friday, lost their only regular-season meeting with UConn, 90-49, Feb. 20 at Hartford. Georgetown fell to 6-49 all-time against UConn. The Hoyas have lost their last 32 meetings with UConn and haven’t beaten the Huskies since 1993.

UConn: UConn has improved to 92-13 all-time in conference tournament play and has won 25 straight tournament games, dating back to its seven-year undefeated streak in the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies haven’t lost a conference tournament game since falling to Notre Dame in the 2013 Big East Tournament Finals.

DEFENSIVE SERIES

UConn has held four straight opponents to under 40 points. The last time they did was in November 2011. Edwards said nine players seeing meaningful minutes has a lot to do with maintaining defensive intensity.

“The coach insists that when you’re on the pitch, give it your all because someone is going to come in and match that same energy that you just produced,” she said. “So I think that’s the mindset of everyone in the team.”

SAVE IN FUTILITY

Georgetown’s nine points in the first half tied the Big East Tournament record for fewest in one half in a game. Boston College had nine in a loss to Villanova in 2005. The Hoyas finished with 14 baskets on 51 shots (27.5%).

FOLLOWING

UConn will face the winner of Saturday’s second quarterfinal between Marquette and DePaul.

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