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No. 3 UConn routs No. 14 Jackson State, 86-64, in first round of NCAA Women's Tournament

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Paige Bueckers scored 28 points and freshman Ashlynn Shade added 26 as No. 3 seed UConn celebrated coach Geno Auriemma’s 70th birthday with an 86-64 win over Jackson State in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

“Happy birthday Grandpa,” Bueckers said at the post-game press conference, as her coach flicked water from his drinking cup in her direction.

Aaliyah Edwards, wearing a mask after missing two games with a broken nose, had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies (30-5), who won in the opening round of the tournament for a 30th straight time.

Ti’Ian Boler scored 25 points and Angel Jackson had 13 for 14-seeded Jackson State (26-7), which lost for the first time in 22 games.

The Tigers’ Miya Crump opened the game with a jumper and Jackson State led briefly at 4-2.

But Bueckers sparked a 17-0 Husky run by scoring eight of UConn’s first 10 points. She gave Connecticut its first lead at 5-4 on an up-and-under layup and foul shot.

UConn led 22-8 after 10 minutes and took its first 20-point lead at 39-19 on a 3-pointer from Bueckers, who also pulled down 11 rebounds and had seven assists in the game.

“Paige, when she starts off like that, it makes everybody feel a lot more confident,” Auriemma said. “They can breath a little bit easier knowing that she’s pretty much taken control of the game.”

Boler’s 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer sent the teams into the half with UConn leading 49-28.

A 3-pointer from Nika Muhl as the third quarter expired put the Huskies up 72-50 and Connecticut cruised from there.

UConn shot 50% from the field and finished with nine 3-pointers, five of them from Shade.

“It was such a surreal moment to be out there,” the freshman said of her first NCAA Tournament game. ”It was just really exciting.”

The Huskies improved to 13-1 in games played on their coach’s birthday.

BIG PICTURE

Jackson State: This was Jackson State’s third NCAA Tournament appearance in the last four years, but they have never advanced past the first round.

UConn: The Huskies have appeared in 35 straight NCAA Tournaments and are 31-2 in first-round games. They last lost an opening-round contest in 1993, when they fell by three points to Louisville in Storrs. ... This is the 27th time the Huskies have won 30 games in a season.

UP NEXT

UConn will face the winner of Saturday’s second game between No. 6 seed Syracuse and No. 11 Seed Arizona