Home College BasketBall Paige Bueckers Leads UConn Past Seton Hall 74-49

Paige Bueckers Leads UConn Past Seton Hall 74-49

Photo Credit:4.0 Sports

South Orange, NJ—Seton Hall coach Anthony Bozzella knew he had his hands full against Connecticut prior to any suspensions.

The pirates suspended second-leading scorer and top rebounder Andra Espinoza-Hunter for Friday night’s home game against No. 2 UConn Huskies.

Bozzella announced the suspension of Esinoza-Hunter for a violation of team rules. The move came just hours before the Big East Conference contest.

She began her college career at UConn, where she saw limited action in seven games during her freshman season before bolting the program. Espinoza-Hunter came to SHU last year as a graduate student from Mississippi State.

Everyone was anticipating the head-to-head between Espinoza-Hunter and Paige Bueckers but witnessed Lauren Park-Lane & the Bueckers show.

The Huskies hasn’t played in two weeks and it showed in the first half of the Seton Hall’s contest. It looked like they were showing some ill effects from their loss to top-ranked South Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship last Monday in the Bahamas.

But coach Geno Auriemma has sophomore Paige Bueckers on his team and she can do super natural things on the court. Bueckers scored 23 points along with nine boards, seven assists, for No. 2 Connecticut, who handled their business defeating the Pirates, 74-49 at Walsh Gymnasium.

“She was all over the court. She’s smart. She knows where the ball’s going all the time,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “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. I’ve always said that the best offensive players can also be the best defensive players if they feel like it. Because once you understand the offense, you know what the other team is trying to do and you’re always ready for it.”

Senior guard Christyn Williams chipped in with 17 points and amped up the defensive pressure Park-Lane in the second half making it difficult for her to maneuver along the perimeter.

The Huskies were out of rhythm in the first quarter, turning the ball over six times and they couldn’t buy a basket, the Pirates on the other hand, shot the lights out in Walsh Gym connecting on some bombs early downtown. The Huskies were down 17-16 at the end of the first, Bueckers had nine points keeping UConn in striking distance and Edwards’ follow up off a miss gave the Huskies the lead at the 1:13 mark.

“I was aggravated that we were only 12 points with six minutes to go because I thought we should have been tied,” Seton Hall coach Anthony Bozella said. “We don’t play for moral victories at Seton Hall.”

UConn (13) Christyn Williams goes up two against Seton Hall (15) Katie Armstrong at Walsh Gymnasium. Photo Credit/4.0 Sports

The Huskies went on a 23-6 run to close the second quarter and led 39-23 at the break. Connecticut went ahead by as many as 19 in the third, and it was 53-36 going into the fourth quarter. The Pirates didn’t get closer than 12 points the rest of the game.

Graduate student Dorka Juhász added five points and 10 rebounds, while senior Olivia Nelson-Ododa chipped in a season-high 10 points.

“Dorka lived her life today,” Auriemma said. “‘I rebound, try to get a bucket inside and I make a 3 once in a while.’ So today Dorka was exactly what we need her to be. That needs to be accentuated a little bit going forward.”

The Huskies beat up the Pirates on the glass, 48-30, and on the blocks, 50-12.

Lauren Park-Lane (20 points) was the top scorer for Seton Hall (3-3, 0-1) and her counterpart Mya Jackson had 14.

“Basketball’s a game of runs,” Bueckers said. “They went on theirs, but obviously it was huge for us to stop those runs, whether it be with a bucket or a stop. And you can definitely hear the crowd when they’re getting amped up and into it. At some point, you’ve got to make them be quiet.”

The difference in the outcome of the game, the Huskies found success in transition, they had 19 fast-break points and 26 points off turnovers were pivotal, while their half-court offense was stagnate — the Pirates’ defense had a lot to do with that. The Huskies shot an abysmal 3-for-16 from beyond the arc and that was one of the reason the kept the Pirates in the contest.

“I never felt the flow offensively. I just didn’t feel it,” Auriemma said. “We struggle in our offensive sets because we just don’t make enough outside shots. So everybody is playing us to put it on the floor and get to the lane.

“Right now, our transition game is better than our half-court game, and that’ll help you win a lot of games, but that won’t help you in the biggest games.”

The Pirates was 16-for-58 (27.6%) from the floor for the game, while the Huskies was 34-for-71 (47.9%). SHU was 5-for-31 (16.1%) from three-point range, while UConn were 3-for-16 (18.8%).

Coach Bozzella is great motivator and he knows how to get the best out of his players. So don’t count the Pirates out of the Big East race yet, there is still a lot of games to be played.

Next Up:

UConn takes on Notre Dame at Gampel at 12 noon

Seton Hall travels to Queens to take on St. John a 2:00 pm start time