UConn freshman Paige Bueckers (5) had 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists in a win over High Point in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament Sunday in San Antonio. Photo by UConn Athletics
March 22 (UPI) -- Paige Bueckers continued her dominant freshman campaign with another record, as she scored the most points in school history in an NCAA women's basketball tournament debut in UConn's thrashing on High Point.
Buecker's lit up the Panthers for 24 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the 102-59 triumph Sunday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The top-seeded Huskies move on to face No. 8 Syracuse in the second round of the tournament Tuesday in San Antonio.
"I'm just excited to get out here," Bueckers told reporters. "We've been practicing for March Madness since August. We are just really excited for it to be happening. We are just blessed to be here through the ups and downs of this year."
Junior forward Olivia Nelson-Ododa chipped in 22 points in the win. Freshman forward Aaliyah Edwards chipped in 17 points and 12 rebounds for the 25-1 Huskies.
UConn dominated the first-round matchup despite playing without coach Geno Auriemma, who missed the game because he recently tested positive for COVID-19.
"We are just blessed to have this tournament, so we are trying to make it as fun as possible," Bueckers said. "We don't really know anything different. We are trying to come in with a positive mindset.
"Whatever team handles this the right way is going to come out on top."
Nelson-Ododa scored the first points of the game 15 seconds into the contest, but Skyler Curran answered with a 3-pointer to give the No. 16 Panthers a 3-2 lead. The Huskies responded with an 8-0 run and never trailed again.
UConn ended the quarter on a 10-2 run and led 25-12 to start the second quarter.
Bueckers then scored 11 points in the second quarter and led the Huskies to a 53-29 lead at the break. She scored another 11 points in the second half. The Huskies outscored the Panthers 59-30 over the final two quarters.
Curran led High Point with 14 points and eight rebounds. Jenson Edwards chipped in 11 points in the loss.
The Huskies face Syracuse in the second round at 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday on ESPN.