HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — UConn star Paige Bueckers is back on the court, but still working on getting back to her old form.
The former National Player of the Year scored eight points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists in 21 minutes Wednesday night, helping the Huskies to a 102-58 rout of Dayton.
It was Bueckers’ first game since the Huskies loss to South Carolina in the 2022 national championship game, a span of 584 days. The redshirt junior missed all of last year and much of her sophomore season with two separate knee injuries.
She scored eight points in 21 minutes while on a coach-imposed minutes restriction. She also had seven rebounds, four assists and a steal.
Coach Geno Auriemma said he’s been harping on her not to try to do too much, too soon.
“She wants to get it all back on each possession,” he said.
Aaliyah Edwards led the Huskies with 23 points and nine rebounds, one of six UConn players in double figures. Azzi Fudd had 13 points, Aubrey Griffin added 12, Qadence Samuels scored 11 and Nika Muhl and Caroline Ducharme each added 10.
Ivy Wolf had 16 points to lead Dayton. The Flyers are coached by former UConn star Tamika Williams-Jeter, who won two national titles playing for the Huskies in 2000 and 2002
Bueckers got her first bucket of the season on a driving layup that made it 6-3, part of an opening 16-5 run.
“This is a process coming back from a major injury — getting my legs under me, getting the rhythm and flow back of playing basketball again,” she said.
A steal and layup by freshman KK Arnold gave the Huskies their first 20-point lead at 37-17. Edwards had 13 points in the first 20 minutes and the Huskies led 59-31 at halftime.
The Huskies dominated underneath, outrebounding Dayton 49-33 and outscoring the Flyers 44-20 in the paint.
The Huskies bench outscored Dayton’s 38-17.
Freshmen Samuels, Arnold (eight points), Ashlynn Shade (4 points) and redshirt freshman Ice Brady (3 points) all made their college debuts for the Huskies.
Dayton: The Flyers gave up just over 70 points per game to opponents last season and were picked to finish ninth in the Atlantic 10’s preseason poll, two spots above last season’s 11th-place finish.
Williams-Jeter said Auriemma told her the Flyers were 1,000% better than the team he saw on film last year.
“He wouldn’t say it unless it was true,” she said. “And for me, being a player under him and just playing and coaching this game, that means everything, especially to my team.”
UConn: The Huskies have a chance to move up to the top spot in the AP poll next week, with top-ranked LSU falling to No. 20 Colorado on Monday. The Huskies were last ranked No. 1 in March 2021.
UConn had a 2-0 lead before the opening tip after an administrative technical was issued on Dayton for providing officials with the wrong number for one of their players. Fudd hit the two free throws.
Dayton: The Flyers host Lindenwood on Sunday.
UConn: The Huskies play at North Carolina State on Sunday.
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