On Sunday, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team faced off against the University of Arkansas in their first real game of the season, following last week’s scrimmage. The Huskies claimed the win by a relatively narrow margin, 95-80, on the back of an exceptional performance from Paige Bueckers.
Arkansas came into the game 2-0 following wins over Tarleton State University and University of Arkansas Pine Bluff this week. UConn came in 0-0, their only game so far being a scrimmage last week which they won with more than double the points of their opponent.
UConn came out of the game with reaffirmed confidence in star Paige Bueckers, but there are also questions. Bueckers was exceptional, scoring a career-high 34 points with six rebounds and four assists. There is no question that last year’s Big East Player of the Year is coming to play this season.
Christyn Williams also had a good game, with 18 points and four rebounds while playing 36 minutes of the game, second just to Bueckers who played the entire 40 minutes. It was a good start to the season for the duo, whom the team will be looking to see perform well for the rest of the games.
“When you go 15-for-19, that’s a pretty good night. There isn’t any place on the floor she can’t play. There isn’t any place on the floor that she’s not comfortable. There isn’t any situation that she finds herself in that she doesn’t know what to do next,” said head coach Geno Auriemma after the game, according to an ESPN article.
On the other hand, new star recruit Azzi Fudd has been quiet through the first games of the season. She played 20 minutes, but got just seven points and went 1-4 for three pointers. If she heats up alongside teammates like Williams and Bueckers, this team could show up in big ways later in the season.
On the Arkansas side, Amber Ramirez was the driving force with 20 points in 29 minutes played. She had help from her teammates, including Sasha Goforth who scored 17 points and went 5-5 in free throws, but her team was unable to repeat their win over UConn from January in which they scored 90 points to UConn’s 87. All things considered, it was perhaps a closer game than fans had hoped considering Arkansas is currently unranked while UConn is number two, but it was still a win for UConn and that is what UConn fans expected.
Now, the team turns ahead to look toward next weekend. They will travel to the Bahamas to play against the University of Minnesota at the Battle 4 Atlantis Women’s Tournament, which is also attended by teams like the University of South Carolina, the University of Oregon and the University of South Florida. Considering all of those teams are currently ranked in the top 25, and that South Carolina is number one, this is going to be an intense three-day tournament that could set the stage for what this season looks like for some of the top teams in the country.
UConn won’t play again in Connecticut until December. That’s the next time most fans will get to see Paige Bueckers and her teammates light up the court in-person. But today, in just the first game of the season, Bueckers proved that her freshman year performance was far from a fluke and that there’s a real chance she’s just getting started with where she can carry this team.