Bueckers takes over in OT to lift No. 2 UConn past top-ranked Gamecocks

Bueckers takes over in OT to lift No. 2 UConn past top-ranked Gamecocks
Connecticut guard Paige Bueckers (5) drives the ball against South Carolina guard Zia Cooke (1) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Storrs, Conn., Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (David Butler/Pool Photo via AP) (Source: David Butler II)

STORRS, Conn. (WIS) - Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers continued to make a name for herself Monday night.

The freshman scored all nine of the Huskies’ points in overtime to help No. 2 take down top-ranked South Carolina 63-59.

Both teams started off slow to begin the contest, but Destanni Henderson and Brea Beal each came away with four points as South Carolina (15-2) took the early 14-10 lead in Storrs.

However, Carolina struggled to score in the second quarter and UConn (14-1) took advantage of the Gamecocks’ offensive woes in the second quarter. With 2:26 to go, Aubrey Griffin’s layup gave the Huskies their first lead of the night at 22-21. However, Zia Cooke would give Carolina just the lift they needed by nailing a half-court shot to end the half tying the game 24-24.

Cooke and Henderson each finished the half with five points. However, the Gamecocks entered the locker room with 12 first-half turnovers.

The Huskies made their move in the third quarter. Tied at 34, Connecticut put together a 9-2 run Bueckers leading the way pushing the home team up 41-36 with 2:34 left in the quarter. The Huskies would enter the fourth with a 45-41 lead.

But UConn’s offensive output slowed in the fourth and Carolina roared back. Down by seven, Aliyah Boston scored five of her team-high 17 points in the quarter to spark an 11-0 run, putting the Gamecocks back on top 54-50 with 2:37 to play.

Again, Bueckers took over. She scored UConn’s final four points of the quarter to tie it at 54 with 48 seconds to play.

With 22 seconds to play, Carolina looked to win it. Henderson pulled up for a mid-range jumper and missed. The Gamecocks came up with three offensive rebounds under the basket but weren’t able to score, which sent the game to overtime.

After a pair of free throws by Bueckers in overtime, the Gamecocks made one final charge. Carolina took a 59-56 lead with less than two minutes to go on a layup by Henderson.

In the end, Bueckers couldn’t be stopped. She scored Connecticut’s final three baskets, including a difficult three-pointer near the top of the key to seal the win for the Huskies.

Bueckers led all scorers with 31 points.

Boston also had 15 rebounds in the loss to record another double-double for the Gamecocks. Cooke and Henderson each had 11.

In total, Carolina recorded 21 turnovers in a loss that snapped the team’s 12-game win streak.

South Carolina will host Missouri on February 11 at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena.

The game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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