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As UConn Defeats G’town to Win Its 22nd Big East Tournament, Bueckers Shines

Paige Bueckers made a comeback a year after missing the Big East Tournament due to an injury to ensure the UConn Huskies finished with a trophy in hand and confetti all over their heads.

The No. 10 Huskies defeated Georgetown 78-42 on Monday night to capture their 22nd Big East Tournament championship. Bueckers contributed 27 points and five blocks to the victory.

“A year ago I would have done anything to be in basketball shoes instead of streetwear and to be playing in the most important month of basketball,” stated Bueckers, who suffered an ACL injury. “I wanted to embrace it and have fun. I’m extremely grateful and happy to be playing basketball.”

The Huskies, who haven’t lost in a conference championship game since 2013, when Notre Dame defeated them to win the Big East, claimed their 29th overall championship.

After returning to the Big East in 2020–21, UConn (29–5), which had participated in 20 straight conference tournament championship games, had won all four of its previous titles while playing in the American Athletic Conference.

With five Huskies players out for the season due to injury, coach Geno Auriemma stated that this title was particularly meaningful given everything the team had gone through this season.

“I don’t think any of them were quite as challenging for this team and these kids,” Auriemma stated.

For the first time in school history, Georgetown was playing in the championship game.

Darnell Haney, the Georgetown coach, remarked, “This group is legendary.” “They were the first to do it.”

With 21 wins already, the Hoyas have surpassed the 2011–12 squad, which had 23 wins. The last time the school qualified for the NCAA Tournament was that year. They are a long shot to qualify for the NCAAs despite making the title game and having a very weak non-conference schedule.

“I never thought we’d be in the Big East championship, be a (postseason) tournament team,” Hoyas guard Graceann Bennett (12 points) remarked.

For the title game, Georgetown staff members wore pink in remembrance of Hoyas coach Tasha Butts, who passed away on October 23 due to breast cancer. Sunday would have been her 42nd birthday.

Throughout the tournament, UConn’s defense was excellent. Throughout the last 14:49 of the semifinal victory, the Huskies held Marquette without a point. Before scoring, Georgetown trailed 11-0 after failing to score during the first 4:09 of the game.

The Hoyas’ situation didn’t get much better. With 1:24 remaining in the first quarter, Bueckers, who was selected as the tournament’s most outstanding player for the second time, made a four-point play that put UConn ahead 25–9.

The Huskies’ following possession saw them swoop the ball around the court with five players touching it, and then rookie KK Arnold made a 3-pointer from the corner. After one quarter, UConn was ahead 28–11.

Halfway through the second quarter, the Hoyas scored 10 goals in a row to narrow their deficit to 19 points, but the Huskies had increased their lead to 44-15.

After a lengthy scoring drought for the Huskies, Ashlynn Shade eventually broke through with a wing 3-pointer, and UConn led 47-25 at the half.

In the second half, Georgetown never really made an attempt to pull closer.

Play was momentarily halted in the third quarter due to an unintentional shot to Bueckers’ face. When she came back, her nose was bleeding, so she played for a little while with gauze protruding from her left nostril to stem the bleeding. Bennett also had gauze from a previous nosebleed, which occurred before the half.

There was a gap in both players’ post players. After breaking her nose in the quarterfinals against Providence, Aaliyah Edwards missed her second consecutive game due to injury. Brianna Scott, who injured her knee with 1:13 remaining in Georgetown’s semifinal victory over Creighton, was not participating in the match. She had a huge brace on her right knee and was using crutches.

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