Sports Spectrum Magazine Summer 2021

Paige Bueckers drawing confidence from God as she leads No. 1 UConn

When Paige Bueckers showed up at UConn, no woman in the program’s storied history had ever recorded three straight 30-point games. The last time a freshman had led the Huskies in scoring was the 2011-12 season.

Just 16 games into her college career, Bueckers has already taken care of that first task, and she’s averaging 5.8 more points per game than anyone else on her team. And she produced the back-to-back-to-back 30-point outings earlier this month in style, the final of which came in a 63-59 overtime win against No. 1 South Carolina.

>> Subscribe to Sports Spectrum Magazine for more stories where sports and faith connect <<

Naturally, it was Bueckers’ 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring that sealed the win in the game’s final seconds.

After that game, Bueckers pointed to her faith in God as one of the reasons why she was so confident against elite opposition with the game on the line so early in her career.

“From God, from my teammates, from coaches, just knowing the work that I’ve put in gives me confidence,” Bueckers said in her postgame interview. “To know how hard I’ve worked for these moments. In close and tight games, I’ve really worked hard to sort of shine in those moments … When you have teammates that screen for you and pass the ball to you when you’re open, they really leave you no choice but to be confident and hit those shots.”

A native of Hopkins, Minnesota, Bueckers was widely regarded as the top recruit in the country last year and was named the 2020 Gatorade Female Athlete of the Year. She took to social media to express her gratitude to God for receiving the honor.

Back in June, Buckers wrote a first-person piece for the Minneapolis Star Tribune reflecting on the pandemic as well as the death of George Floyd.

“I have used this time to renew the relationships in my life, with God, my family and my friends,” she wrote. “Everybody should want to come out of this quarantine and this moment of change in Minnesota with new goals for how we treat each other and more appreciation for what we have.”

She finished by encouraging people to look for ways to learn from all the challenges that 2020 presented.

“I am a huge believer that everything happens for a reason,” Buckers wrote. “Something good just has to come out of all this. We can use this moment to be smarter about how we carry ourselves. We can come out of this stronger as a country.”

Bueckers was also featured on the cover of SLAM Magazine last year and discussed what she hopes to ultimately achieve on the basketball court.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Paige💕 (@paigebueckers)

“I’m so grateful and I thank God [for my accomplishments]. But at the same time, nobody talks about high school accomplishments or accolades,” Bueckers said in the story. “I don’t want to just be a high school legend. I want to be someone that does it at college and then the pro level. I don’t want to be a bust or somebody that just washes away.”

It’s safe to say the “doing it at college” piece is going quite well. Bueckers is averaging 21.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game while shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 55.4 percent from 3-point range for the Huskies, who claimed the No. 1 spot in the AP poll following the South Carolina game.

Bueckers and the Huskies are back in action Wednesday night when they take on St. John’s at 6 p.m. ET.

RELATED STORIES:
Notre Dame’s Abby Prohaska says ‘God’s got me’ after blood clot diagnosis
Baylor women’s basketball coach Kim Mulkey reaches 600 career wins, keeps her faith
PODCAST: Heidi Burge Horton & Heather Burge Quella – Former Pro Basketball Players
Maya Moore honors God as she fights for criminal justice while away from basketball
MAGAZINE: Las Vegas’ Kelsey Plum and A’ja Wilson are Aces in the Faith