Paige Bueckers sustains leg injury, UConn defeat Notre Dame 73-54
December 7, 2021
The UConn Huskies beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 73-54 on Sunday afternoon, but the victory cost the team last year's national player of the year Paige Bueckers' left knee.
Bueckers is a sophomore with the Huskies. She is widely considered one of the best college basketball players in the country. She had scored 22 points, four rebounds, and four assists before falling to the ground with just seconds left on the game.
Bueckers was dribbling the ball up the court in the very last minute of the game when she stumbled, twisted her ankle, and fell on her left leg. She was then carried out of the court.
Coach Geno Auriemma said the star player, who averaged 21 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.6 assists in her last five games, injured her left knee but did not show signs that she twisted her ankle. He also said, however, that the extent of the injury would only be revealed after scans are completed on Monday.
"You immediately put yourself in that kid's shoes," Auriemma said. "That's the part that really hits you in the pit of your stomach. The initial report is that she might have hyperextended it, but I think the first thing that goes through your mind is the worst thing."
Until her fall, Bueckers had played through all minutes of the game. Auriemma was asked why she was still on the court despite the Huskies already having a huge lead over their rival and her answer was almost as simple as an "I don't know".
"I don't have an answer for why she was in the game," Auriemma answered. "But yeah, I don't like our team without her on the court."
Meanwhile, Olivia Nelson-Ododa scored 14 points for the Huskies and 13 rebounds (5-1). The Huskies was dominating throughout the game, outrebounding the Fighting Irish 45-32 and outscoring them 28-16 in the paint.
UConn freshman Caroline Ducharme recorded 14 points, her best for the entire season of far, with Aaliyah Edwards producing an additional 10.
Freshman Sonia Citron, who just scored 29 points in the previous game against Michigan State, scored 19 points for Notre Dame (7-2). Despite the score, however, the Fighting Irish stopped leading in the first quarter at 10-9.
At halftime, the Huskies were leading by 10 points and by 12 in the first minutes of the second half. Heading into the fourth quarter, Notre Dame used a 6-2 run and cut the lead to 51-44.
However, UConn continued pushing and a 3-pointer from Bueckers allowed the Huskies to lead further, making it 56-44. The Huskies then furthered the lead by scoring the first 13 points of the final quarter, making it almost demotivating for the Fighting Irish to retaliate. They then continued until the score was final and Bueckers fell.
“We played competitively for three quarters," Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey said. “And in the fourth quarter they ran away with it. I think it’s a credit to UConn. They are a really great team. Unfortunately, we got outrebounded and I thought that was the difference.”
“We definitely celebrated the win, but we were definitely more concerned about Paige and just how she was feeling and her status right now,” Nelson-Ododa said. “You know, we're praying for the best and praying for good news and just kind of waiting for the outcome.”