Bueckers scores 27 points and short-handed UConn beats Marquette 58-29 in the Big East semifinals

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Injury-decimated UConn needed Paige Bueckers even more than usual on Sunday.

The Big East Player of the year came through, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to lead the No. 9 Huskies to a 58-29 win over Marquette in the Big East Tournament semifinals.

Bueckers ended the third quarter with a long buzzer-beating 3-pointer. She dribbled across halfcourt, then behind her back, before making a move to her right and launching a contested deep 3-pointer from the wing. She ran to the bench and chest bumped guard KK Arnold as the team celebrated.

Her shot made it 47-29.

Freshman forward Ice Brady, making just her second start, added 10 points for the short-handed Huskies (28-5) who had just seven available players after losing star center Aaliyah Edwards to a facial injury after she was struck in the nose in the win over Providence on Saturday.

Injuries had already put five other players out for the season.

“It’s remarkable the way players like Paige can summon up what’s needed in any given game and then execute it,” coach Geno Auriemma said.

”She’s different, he added. "That’s it. She’s different.”

Liza Karlen had 12 points and nine rebounds to lead Marquette (23-8), which made just 12 baskets on 54 shots (22%) and scored its last points with 4:49 left in the third quarter.

UConn never trailed in the game.

Bueckers took Edwards' place for the opening tip, won it, flexed toward the bench and then hit a layup.

The Huskies opened the game on a 9-0 run, holding Marquette without a point for the first six minutes of the game. The Golden Eagles missed their first 11 shots.

“I thought we had open shots and just didn’t see it, and then when we got them, we weren’t able to make them,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said.

The Huskies led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter and 31-20 at the break.

UConn extended that in the third period and Bueckers' long 3-pointer as the quarter expired gave the Huskies a 47-29 lead and firm control of the game.

“From the opening tip ... you just felt the hunger, the passion and the energy that we had,” Bueckers said. “It helped to get a strong start like that, but it continued throughout the whole entire game.”

Bueckers finished 11 of 16 from the floor. She also had four assists, four blocked shots and three steals. She left the game with three minutes left to a standing ovation.

INJURY UPDATE

Auriemma said Edwards nose is “way broken” and she is doubtful for the final, but should be ready for the NCAA Tournament. He said she did not suffer a concussion, but must be able to breath freely and be comfortable before he will let her take the floor.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: This was the fourth straight season UConn has eliminated Marquette from the tournament. UConn also won this season's previous two meetings, 94-64 in Hartford on New Year's Eve and 85-59 on Jan. 23 in Milwaukee.

UConn: The Huskies most recently lost a conference tournament game in 2013, when Notre Dame beat them for the Big East title. UConn has won all three titles since rejoining the Big East in 2020-21 after taking seven straight during their run in the American Athletic Conference

UP NEXT

The Huskies will play Monday night in the Big East title game against No. 6 seed Georgetown. The Hoyas defeated No. 21 Creighton 55-46 in the day's second semifinal.

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AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball