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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. (AP) — Paige Bueckers had 23 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and five steals to lead No. 2 UConn past Seton Hall 74-49 in the teams’ Big East opener on Friday night.
“She was all over the court. She’s smart. She knows where the ball’s going all the time,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She’s got a bunch of things going for her. She’s so smart offensively that when she’s on defense, she knows exactly where they’re trying to go with the ball. I’ve always said that the best offensive players can also be the best defensive players if they feel like it. Because once you understand the offense, you know what the other team is trying to do and you’re always ready for it.”
The Huskies (4-1) bounced back in their first game since losing on Nov. 22 to No. 1 South Carolina at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas.
“We haven’t played in 11 days, so just getting back into the game flow was huge for us,” Bueckers said.
Christyn Williams added 17 points for UConn, Aaliyah Edwards scored 12 points and Olivia Nelson-Ododa had 10.
Lauren Park-Lane led Seton Hall (3-3) with 20 points and five assists. Mya Jackson scored 14 points and Sidney Cooks had 13.
UConn went on a 23-6 run to close the second quarter and led 39-23 at halftime. The Huskies went ahead by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, and it was 53-36 heading into the fourth. Seton Hall didn’t get closer than 12 points the rest of the way.
“I was aggravated that we were only 12 points with six minutes to go because I thought we should have been tied,” Seton Hall coach Anthony Bozella said. “We don’t play for moral victories at Seton Hall.”
UConn gave no reason for AP Top 25 voters to move it down in the poll.
UConn: The loaded Huskies played their first game without star freshman Azzi Fudd, who will be sidelined for at least the next two weeks with an injured right foot. Fudd, a former national player of the year, was the consensus top recruit in the nation coming out of high school. She has averaged 7.5 points and 2.3 rebounds in her first four games for the Huskies, who could use her in the long run, but have more than enough talent to survive for the time being.
Seton Hall: The Pirates were without second-leading scorer and top rebounder Andra Espinoza-Hunter, who was suspended one game for a violation of team rules. Espinoza-Hunter, a graduate transfer from Mississippi State, had started all five games and is averaging 18.2 points and 7.0 rebounds. She and Park-Lane will be expected to lead the Pirates in Big East play.
UConn: Hosts No. 24 Notre Dame on Sunday.
Seton Hall: At St. John’s on Sunday.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25