Bueckers makes all the difference in UConn’s win

Dec. 4—It became one of the best known refrains in UConn women’s basketball history: “We have Diana and you don’t.”

Well, Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma came up with something new Friday night following the second-ranked Huskies’ 74-49 Big East win over Seton Hall at historic Walsh Gymnasium in South Orange, New Jersey.

“We’ve got Paige and it’s not enough,” he said on SNY.

UConn 74, Seton Hall 49

UCONN (4-1)

Edwards 6-11 0-0 12, Nelson-Ododa 5-10 0-0 10, Bueckers 11-18 0-0 23, Westbrook 1-6 3-3 5, Williams 8-16 0-0 17, Juhasz 2-4 0-0 5, Muhl 1-5 0-0 2, Ducharme 0-1 0-0 0, McLean 0-0 0-2 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 34-71 3-5 74


Armstrong 1-5 0-0 2, Cooks 5-15 2-2 13, Harris 0-2 0-0 0, Jackson 5-17 2-2 14, Park-Lane 5-17 8-10 20, Bembry 0-2 0-0 0, Robinson 0-0 0-0 0, Cummings 0-0 0-0 0, Treadwell 0-0 0-0 0, Team 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 16-58 12-14 49

UConn 16 23 14 21 — 74

Seton Hall 17 6 13 13 — 49

3-Point Goals_UConn 3-16 (Edwards 0-1, Bueckers 1-4, Westbrook 0-4, Williams 1-3, Juhasz 1-1, Muhl 0-2, Ducharme 0-1), Seton Hall 5-31 (Armstrong 0-3, Cooks 1-9, Jackson 2-11, Park-Lane 2-8). Assists_UConn 16 (Bueckers 7), Seton Hall 9 (Park-Lane 5). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_UConn 48 (Juhasz 4-10), Seton Hall 30 (Team 3-6). Total Fouls_UConn 17, Seton Hall 13. Technical Fouls_None. A_1,320.

It was against the Pirates as Paige Bueckers had 23 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and five steals. But when UConn (4-1, 1-0 Big East) plays better teams — say No. 24 Notre Dame (7-1) on Sunday — the reigning national Player of the Year will need more help than she gets.

“She was all over the court,” Auriemma said. “But she’s smart. She knows where the ball is going all of the time. She’s not late. She commits dumb fouls like any other player does. She’s got a bunch of things going for her. She’s so smart offensively that when she’s on defense she knows exactly where they’re trying to go with the ball.

“You have to hustle your butt off and she does. She’s diving on loose balls when we’re up 25. Some guys don’t dive on loose balls when they’re down five.”

The Huskies’ win was their 34th straight over Seton Hall (3-3, 0-1), breaking a tie with South Florida for UConn’s longest winning streak against any opponent. And the Huskies’ run of consecutive games without back-to-back losses goes to 1.028 dating back to the start of the 1993-94 season. They have won 67 in a row following a loss.

Bueckers was 11-for-18 from the floor in her 34 minutes of action. She did not have a turnover.

She even got the final 1:44 off.

Christyn Williams added 17 points for UConn. Aaliyah Edwards chipped in 12 points and seven rebounds, three on the offensive end. The sophomore had one offensive rebound in UConn’s first four games.

“She worked harder than in any game this season and the results showed,” Auriemma said. “Work hard, compete hard, this is what happens.”

Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 10 points while Dorka Juhasz had five points and 10 rebounds in 14 minutes off the bench.

“Dorka was exactly what we needed her to be,” Auriemma said. “She’s a big body. She can bang around in there. She plays good defense for the most part. She kind of understands the game so that’s a big help.”

The Huskies were without freshman Azzi Fudd (foot) for the first time and junior Aubrey Griffin (back) for the fifth straight game.

Auriemma used Caroline Ducharme first off the bench and the freshman struggled. After three minutes she was out and she did not return until the game was decided.

Sophomore Nika Muhl played 17 minutes. She had her moments including a steal and layup that gave UConn some breathing room in the first half. But she also committed four fouls.

“Four fouls in 17 minutes. She had more fouls than assists and steals combined,” Auriemma said. “That’s not the winning edge. We need Nika’s minutes, We don’t need Paige playing 40 minutes. That would help a big deal, a lot, a lot.”

Lauren Park-Lane led Seton Hall with 20 points. Andra Espinoza-Hunter, the Pirates’ second-leading scorer, did not play as the former UConn player was suspended for one game by coach Tony Bozzella for a violation of team rules.

“Did it change our game plan? Not really,” Auriemma said. “Obviously it hurt Tony’s team.”

Seton Hall led 17-16 after one quarter but the Huskies opened the second with a 16-2 run that included eight points by Williams and four each by Bueckers and Nelson-Ododa. It was 39-23 at halftime.

It was 55-36 following a Bueckers’ basket to open the fourth quarter. The Pirates cut it to 12 and had possession, but a steal and layup by Evina Westbrook started a 12-2 spurt that allowed the Huskies to coast home.

The Huskies dominated on the boards (48-30) and in points in the paint (50-12) and also in points off of turnovers (26-9) and fast-break points (19-0). UConn shot 47.9 percent from the floor but had only 16 assists on 34 baskets.

“We haven’t been good on offense the entire season yet,” Auriemma said. “It will come. But right now, it’s not good. I have to go home and figure that out.”

The Huskies and Pirates will play at Gampel Pavilion on Jan. 21.

For coverage of all sports in the JI’s 18-town coverage area, plus updates on the UConn women’s basketball team and head coach Geno Auriemma, follow Carl Adamec on Twitter: @CarlAdamec, Facebook: Carl Adamec, and Instagram: @CarlAdamec.

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