Paige Bueckers’ UConn basketball career has had its ups and downs

When healthy, Paige Bueckers has been among the best players in college basketball. In fact, even when she’s not healthy — like when she injured her ankle in her freshman year against Tennessee — she’s still among the best players in all of college basketball.

But the UConn women’s basketball point guard, the nation’s top freshman player, suffered a devastating injury this week that will sideline her for the 2022-23 season. Bueckers tore her ACL in her left leg while playing a basketball game on Monday. The tear follows a fractured tibial plateau and a torn meniscus last year – an injury that sidelined Bueckers for 10 weeks last season.

It was a career, albeit only a two-year career, of ups and downs for Bueckers. She and the Huskies were set to return to the national title game with a team hoping to fully recover from injury.

Instead, UConn will be without its junior star.

Here’s a look at the ups and downs of his career so far:

Strong points

Begin

The freshman entered the UConn court for the first time with a 17-point performance in a 79-23 UMass-Lowell blowout on Dec. 12, 2020, at Gampel Pavilion. She also finished with nine rebounds, five steals and five assists. Sure, it was UMass-Lowell, but it was obvious the freshman guard, who started, was ready to step into the spotlight and make on-court decisions that were wise beyond his years.

Twisted ankle? no problem

Bueckers rolled his ankle three minutes from time but saved it and came back in time to hit a 3-point shot with 28 seconds on the clock to help the third-ranked Huskies defeat the No. 25 in the Tennessee 67-61 on Jan. 21. 2021. She finished with nine points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The game, played in Knoxville, was part of We Back Pat Week, honoring legendary Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who died in 2016. It was also UConn’s first visit to Tennessee since 2006.

The injury persisted for the rest of the year, however. Bueckers would undergo surgery after the season.

For victory

Shortly after that ankle injury, UConn and Bueckers faced the No. 1-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. The No. 2 team Huskies were led by Bueckers, who had 31 points, six steals , five assists, four rebounds and one block.

The biggest moment of the night, of course, was a 3-pointer in the dying seconds of overtime, earning the victory for the Huskies, who passed South Carolina to take first place.

First-year impact

Bueckers’ first season was eye-opening.

She became the first freshman to win the Wooden Award and the Naismith Trophy while also being named AP and USBWA Player of the Year.

In 29 games, Bueckers averaged 20 points per game, scoring 581 while going over 20 points 13 times. During a three-game streak in early February 2021, she went over 30 points three times, scoring 93 overall while shooting .601 from the floor.

The Huskies finished the season 28-2 and lost to Arizona 69-59 in the Final Four.

Happy to see you again

A tough 2021-22 season ended with a return to the NCAA title game for the first time since 2016, after double-seeded UConn won five straight tournament games and knocked out a header No. 1 seed, Stanford, 63-58 in the semifinals.

Bueckers was turned off in the Elite Eight, scoring 27 points in a 91-87 overtime win over NC State to get the Huskies into the Final Four. She finished the tournament with 94 points in six games.

Lowlights

First big injury

UConn started the 2021-22 season 5-1, but at the end of a 73-54 win over Notre Dame on Dec. 5, Bueckers went to the ground with an injury.

An MRI and CT scan revealed she had suffered a tibial plateau fracture and torn meniscus in her left knee and, after surgery, she had missed 10 weeks of her second campaign.

Two series end

During Buckers’ absence in the 2021-22 season, UConn suffered an injury and went 15-4, at one point even dropping out of the top 10 for the first time since the 2005 season.

The Huskies also had two long streaks that ended.

A 57-44 loss to Georgia Tech in Game 1 after Bueckers’ injury ended UConn’s 240-game winning streak against unranked opponents, and a 72-69 loss to Villanova ended a streak. of 169 wins against conference opponents.

Defeat in the final

UConn’s run to the 2022 NCAA Finals was filled with highlights, but ended on a negative note when the Huskies were defeated by South Carolina 64-49 in the Finals.

UConn trailed 22-8 in the first quarter and never really recovered, though they outscored South Carolina 19-13 in the second frame, closing the halftime lead to 35-27.

The loss left the Huskies still in search of their first national championship since 2016.

Devastation again

Bueckers suffered an ACL tear in his left knee during a pickup game on Monday and will miss the entire 2022-23 season, according to a statement from UConn.

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