Bueckers, No. 7 UConn women rout Hoyas in Big East quarters

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Connecticut's Paige Bueckers, left, talks with official Maj Forsberg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Georgetown in the quarterfinals of the Big East Conference tournament at Mohegan Sun Arena, Saturday, March 5, 2022, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – UConn coach Geno Auriemma says star sophomore Paige Bueckers isn't where she wants to be in returning from knee surgery, but she's getting there.

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

Last season's national player of the year, who suffered a tibia plateau fracture and torn meniscus in her left knee on Dec. 5, played 18 minutes in her third game back. She shot 6 of 9 overall, and was 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 somebody like that to your team, I think that's pretty significant. Not very many people are going to be able to do that at this time of the year. But she's still a ways away from where we need her to be.”

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.

“At this time, this ain't about Georgetown or about 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 go forward in this tournament and the NCAA.”

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

Nika Muhl, chosen Thursday as the Big East’s defensive player of the year, capped that run at 23-0 with a steal and layup that put the Huskies up 26-6. UConn held the Hoyas without a field goal for almost 15 minutes.

Bueckers' first basket of the game, a 3-pointer from the left wing, made it 40-9 and UConn went into halftime leading 43-9.

“If we start off aggressive on the defensive end, it gets us going,” Williams said. “I just think we need to play all of 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 a right ankle during Georgetown’s opening-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 opening round on Friday, lost their only regular-season meeting with UConn, 90-49, on Feb. 20 in Hartford. Georgetown fell to 6-49 all-time against UConn. The Hoyas have lost their last 32 meetings with UConn and have not beaten the Huskies since 1993.

UConn: UConn improved to 92-13 all-time in conference tournaments and have won 25 straight tournament games, dating to their undefeated seven-year run in the American Athletic Conference. The Huskies have not lost a conference tournament game since falling to Notre Dame in the 2013 Big East Tournament finals.

DEFENSIVE STREAK

UConn has held four straight opponents to fewer than 40 points. The last time they did that was in November, 2011. Edwards said having nine players see significant minutes has a lot to do with keeping up the defensive intensity.

“Coach emphasizes that when you are out there on the court 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 for everyone on the team.”

RECORD IN FUTILITY

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

UP NEXT

UConn will play Marquette on Sunday. The Golden Eagles beat DePaul 105-85 on Saturday.

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