STORRS - Paige Bueckers was dribbling into the frontcourt and dribbling out the clock of the UConn women’s basketball team’s win over Notre Dame Sunday.
The next thing she knew she was on the Gampel Pavilion court in pain holding her left knee.
The reigning national Player of the Year was helped to the bench with 38.5 seconds left and helped to the trainer’s room after the final buzzer of No. 2 UConn’s 73-54 win over No. 24 Notre Dame. She will have an MRI, perhaps Monday.
“The doctors did a quick examination,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “They’re going to wait for the ice to come off and they’ll know more. They’ll do an MRI.
“On the replay it looked like it probably hyper-extended, best-case scenario. Nothing twisted, the doctor said. So hopefully we’ll get some good news tomorrow.”
Bueckers had not been out of the game when she was hurt. She had 22 points, four rebounds, four assists, and five steals.
Auriemma was asked why Bueckers was still in the game with the Huskies (5-1) leading by 18 and under a minute left.
“She never comes out. She never wants to come out,” Auriemma said. “She’s a pain in the butt to have on the bench because all she does is complain about why she’s not playing. And we’ve made a concerted effort in the last three or four games to get her some rest during the game.
“You’re right, I don’t have an answer for why she was in the game. I mean, that could happen anytime. It could happen in practice. It could happen in a game. I don’t like our team without her on the court. I mean, I might have to like it if she misses any time, but I don’t like the way our team looks when she’s not on the floor.”
Bueckers averaged 35.8 minutes in the Huskies’ first five games and had played 38 or more minutes in three of the first five.
She set a school single-season record averaging 36.2 minutes per game her freshman year.
UConn used a 10-2 run to close the first half to take a 35-25 lead at the break. Notre Dame (7-2) hung around and was within seven after three quarters.
But Olivia Nelson-Ododa (14 points, 13 rebounds) opened the fourth with a layup and Bueckers followed with a 3-pointer. Freshman Caroline Ducharme followed with the first five of her 14 fourth-quarter points. A Bueckers free throw and a Ducharme hoop put it out of reach at 64-44.
Minutes later, the sellout crowd left Gampel Pavilion in silence and now the Huskies wait for news on their sophomore standout.
“We definitely celebrated the win, but we were definitely more concerned about Paige and just how she was feeling and her status right now,” Nelson-Ododa said. “We’re praying for the best, praying for good news and just kind of waiting for the outcome.”