December 5, 2021 

Bueckers helped off the court in UConn win over Irish

Bueckers injury dampens UConn victory over long-time rival

STORRS, CT– Connecticut guard Paige Bueckers was helped off the court after her knee appeared to buckle in the waning moments of a 73-54 Uconn victory over rival Notre Dame. A sold-out Gampel Pavilion was hushed to near silence as Bueckers collapsed to the floor surrounded by teammates.

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Bueckers was carried to the bench where she sat in visible pain for the final few seconds of the game. Team staff helped her navigate the handshake line and then helped her to the locker room.

After the game, Uconn head coach Geno Auriemma confirmed the knee injury. He shared that trainers completed an exam that suggested that the knee injury was more of a hyperextension than a twist. A full MRI will confirm more in the next few days.

“You immediately put yourself in that kid’s shoes…that’s the part that really hits you in the pit of your stomach,” Auriemma said. “Initial report is that she might have hyperextended it, but I think the first thing that goes through your mind is the worst thing.”

Auriemma wants Bueckers on the floor

UConn was up by 18 points with under 40 seconds remaining in the game when Paige went down with her injury. She had been pushed around a bit throughout the game and was slow to get up more than once. Why was Bueckers still on the floor?

“She never wants to come out,” Auriemma told The Athletic’s, Charlotte Carroll. “She’s a pain in the ass to have on the bench ’cause all she does is complain about why she’s not playing. And we’ve made a concerted effort in the last three or four games to get her some rest during the game.”

At 36.3 minutes per game, Bueckers doesn’t get too much rest. Before leaving this afternoon’s game she had played the entire game. She had a team-high 22 points in addition to 5 steals and 4 assists.

Auriemma later admitted, “I don’t like our team without her on the court.”

The coming days will reveal whether or not the Huskies will be without Bueckers on the court for any period of time. South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley shared her well wishes to the UConn guard. In a post-game Twitter post, she called Bueckers a “generational player.”

A rivalry renewed

Sunday’s Notre Dame-UConn’s match-up marked the first time Niele Ivey faced off against the Huskies as a head coach. Ivey, in her second season at the helm of her alma mater, took over the program when former Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw stepped down as head coach of the Fighting Irish on April 22, 2020.

Uconn-Notre Dame has been a premier rivalry in sports for the past two decades. The 2020-21 season was the first time since 1994-95 that the two teams didn’t face off. It’s fitting that the two former BIG EAST foes resumed their rivalry on the opening weekend of BIG EAST women’s basketball play. Both teams played for the BIG East Conference until 2013. At that time, Notre Dame moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), where they remain today. UConn played in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) from 2013-2020 before returning to the BIG EAST for the 2020-21 season.

Written by Tee Baker

Tee has been a contributor to The Next since March Madness 2021 and is currently a contributing editor, BIG EAST beat reporter and curator of historical deep dives.

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