Women's basketball: Paige Bueckers leads No. 2 UConn over No. 1 S. Carolina

Women's basketball: Paige Bueckers leads No. 2 UConn over No. 1 S. Carolina
UConn freshman Paige Bueckers made a 3-pointer with 10 seconds remaining in overtime to seal a victory over South Carolina on Monday in Storrs, Conn. Photo by Stephen Slade/UConn Athletics

Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Freshman Paige Bueckers scored 31 points and made a series of clutch shots to help the UConn women's basketball team topple top-ranked South Carolina in a dramatic overtime scuffle in Storrs, Conn.

Bueckers also scored the final 13 points for UConn, the No. 2 team in the coaches poll, in the 63-59 win on Monday at Gampel Pavilion. The No. 1 Gamecocks entered the contest on a 12-game winning streak.


"I went to UConn to play in huge games like this," Bueckers told reporters. "It means a lot for me to play for this program and to play in huge games like this. It was really fun out there."

Tuesday's game had seven lead changes and was tied 10 times.

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"I think the most impressive thing about Paige is that she plays at the same pace the entire game," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said.

"That usually comes a bit later for most players, but she's got it at such a young age. She makes the game slow down for her. I'm always surprised when she shoots and it doesn't go in."


South Carolina led 14-10 after the first quarter before the Huskies outscored the Gamecocks 14-10 in the second quarter to tie the game 24-24 at halftime.

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Bueckers then scored 10 points in the third quarter to help the Huskies take a 45-41 advantage into the final frame. The Gamecocks then fought back to tie the score and took a four-point lead with 2:37 remaining in regulation.

Bueckers responded with back-to-back jumpers to tie the game and force overtime. The UConn freshman began the bonus period with two made free throws to give the Huskies a 56-54 lead before Gamecocks sophomore forward Aliyah Boston gave her team a 57-56 lead with a layup with 2:38 remaining.

Junior guard Destanni Henderson then gave the Gamecocks a three-point advantage with another layup on the next possession. Bueckers responded with back-to-back jump shots to give UConn a 60-59 advantage before she iced the game with a clutch 3-pointer.

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Bueckers began the final sequence with a dribble inside before she passed to Olivia Nelson-Ododa. The Huskies forward then passed back to Bueckers, who launched a shot from downtown.

The shot hit the back iron of the rim before it bounced high above the backboard and fell back through the net with 10 seconds remaining.


"It felt good when it left my hand," Bueckers said. "Then seeing it hit the back and it shot straight up so I said this has got to go in. It looked good, felt good, but yeah, I would say that's just a really nice bounce."

Bueckers made 14 of 26 shots in the win. She also had six steals, five assists and four rebounds for the Huskies. Aaliyah Edwards and Nika Muhl scored eight points apiece for UConn.

Boston led the Gamecocks with 17 points and 15 rebounds.

UConn (14-1) will hosts Seton Hall at 6:30 p.m. EST Wednesday at Gampel Pavilion. South Carolina (15-2) will hosts Missouri at 7 p.m. EST Thursday in Columbia, S.C.

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