Columbia, S.C. –When UConn head coach Geno Auriemma traveled to Edina Minnesota to recruit Page Bueckers, he knew he was getting a very special player arriving in Storrs.
The Huskies women’s basketball defeated No. 1 South Carolina in overtime, 63-59 in Columbia, South Carolina. It was their first win in overtime since Dec. 2004.
The Gamecocks (23-1) came in 0-8 all-time against the Huskies, seven of those defeats with national championship coach Dawn Staley at the helm.
Sophomore center Aliyah Boston led South Carolina with 17 points and 15 boards. The Gamecocks committed 21 turnovers, only four fewer than their made field goals.
Page Bueckers carried UConn with 31 points, the third-straight game in which she scored 30-plus, and scored all nine of the Huskies’ points in overtime. She became the first Husky freshman to score 30 points in three straight games.
The contest was a defensive from the start, with the Huskies shooting 22 percent in the first quarter and the Gamecocks committing six turnovers to go up 14-10 after 10 minutes. UConn settled down in the second, tying the game with a jumper from Olivia Nelson-Ododa before Bueckers’ steal and score at the 1:02 mark that gave the Huskies a 22-21 advantage for its first lead of the night.
Halfway through the second quarter, Bueckers hit Edwards for a layup to increase Huskies’ lead to three points, but a long half-court shot at the buzzer from Zia Cooke tied things up going into the break.
The competition in the third went back and forth, Bueckers hit a little baby hook shot in lane to give the Huskies’ its first lead of the half, but the Gamecocks tied the contest up on the next play. Nika Muhl’s and-one put UConn up by three, and an Aaliyah Edwards layup put the Huskies ahead by six points, it was the largest lead of the game up to that point. Bueckers’ right hand runner at the buzzer gave UConn a 45-41 edge heading into the fourth.
Bueckers scored all nine points for the Huskies in overtime, including the final seven points of the contest. No other Husky finished in double-figures. Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Muhl both scored eight points while Olivia Nelson-Ododa played a key role on offense with a team-high six assists to go along with seven rebounds.
As a team, UConn took a season-high 73 shots but made just 29 (39.7%) from the floor. Connecticut only made two of its 15 attempts from down town as well.
Tyasha Harris, a senior who was a freshman starter on South Carolina’s national championship team in 2017, was 0-4 in her career against UConn (20-3). When the game ended, she thought about all the former Gamecocks who’d never celebrated a win in eight previous games over Connecticut.
“I see all the people who started before us, people who hadn’t beat UConn and I see how happy they are,” Harris said.
Harris had a double-double, too, with a game-high 11 assists. Zia Cooke, another freshman, had 15 points for South Carolina.
It was South Carolina’s 17th straight win and their ninth victory in 10 games against ranked opponents.
Since women’s basketball changed to quarters in 2015-16, UConn’s fewest points in a first quarter was eight points against Tulane in February 2016. The Huskies fewest in any quarter was six in a loss to Baylor earlier this year.
UConn will return to Big East play against Seton Hall on Wednesday at Gampel Pavilion.