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Paige Bueckers took over at the perfect time for No. 2 UConn on Monday night.
After a late South Carolina rally forced overtime in their marquee matchup at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut, Bueckers drilled seven straight points – including a clutch contested 3-point bucket — in the final seconds to give the Huskies a 63-59 win over the top-ranked Gamecocks.
"She's a player," South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said of Bueckers after the game, via The Atheltic's Charlotte Carroll. "She makes big shots when her number is called, time and time again."
UConn holds on after South Carolina run
The first half was a tight defensive battle, as each team went to the locker room at the break with just 24 points. The Huskies were held to 0-6 from the 3-point line, though they forced 13 South Carolina turnovers.
In fact, the only 3-pointer made by anyone in the first two quarters came at the buzzer, thanks to a wild half-court heave from Zia Cooke.
UConn pulled ahead slightly in the second half, taking a brief seven-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. Yet a quick 11-0 South Carolina burst brought the Gamecocks right back into control of the game.
South Carolina held UConn to just five points through the first eight minutes of the final period — though back-to-back buckets from Bueckers tied the game back up with just 49 seconds left in the contest.
With one final chance, the Gamecocks missed four different buckets on the final play — three of them layups right at the rim — and ended up sending the game into overtime.
Aliyah Boston led South Carolina with 17 points and 15 rebounds. Cooke and Destanni Henderson each added 11. The Gamecocks had a 22-game road win streak before Tuesday’s loss, too.
Bueckers finished with a game-high 31 points and five assists while snagging six steals in the win. She was the only UConn player to score in double figures.
"I'm always surprised when she shoots and the ball doesn't go in," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, via Carroll. "There's not much you can say. She's that player. She's that player that comes along and people talk about."
Super Bowl LV from Yahoo Sports: