Paige Bueckers’s first N.C.A.A. tournament game was like many of her regular-season games; dominant and historic.
She led the game in points, scoring 24 in first-seeded UConn’s 102-59 win over No. 16 seed High Point. She also had nine rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks. She led the team with 36 minutes.
“You work your whole life for March Madness,” Bueckers said in her postgame interview on ESPN. “It’s just awesome to be a part of it.”
Bueckers’s point total is believed to be the most for a UConn freshman making their tournament debut.
It was her 12th game with at least 20 points in her historic season. She finished 9 of 13 from the floor, one from behind the arc, and was 5 of 6 from the free-throw line.
“Paige absolutely has another gear,” said UConn associate head coach Chris Dailey, who was filling in for Geno Auriemma after his positive coronavirus test. “And when she gets to that point, it’s tough to stop her.”
UConn shot 59 percent from the field while dominating the rebound battle 52-23 and scoring an astounding 62 points in the paint to the Panthers’ 18.
It’s the sixth consecutive tournament in which UConn has reached the 100-point mark at least once. It’s the fourth time this season the Huskies got 100, and the first since a Jan. 4 contest against DePaul.
After Baylor totaled 101 points earlier Sunday, UConn set the new bar for most points in a tournament game this year.
It wasn’t all good news, though; freshman point guard Nika Muhl left the game midway through the second quarter with a right ankle sprain and did not return. She previously injured her left ankle in the Big East tournament quarterfinals. She was seen leaving on crutches.