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.
Naturally, it was Bueckers’ 3-pointer with the shot clock expiring that sealed the win in the game’s final seconds.
UConn's Paige Bueckers with a WILD shot in OT to seal the win over No. 1 South Carolina!
— Stadium (@Stadium) February 9, 2021
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.
This is CRAZY!! First all Glory to God He has helped me achieve things I couldn’t even dream of. A huge thank you to Gatorade for naming me fit for this award. There were so many people that deserved this award just as much as me. So it’s a blessing to be the one chosen! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/1PC9lKZdIQ
— Paige Bueckers (@paigebueckers1) July 24, 2020
GOD IS GOOD. Today has been a crazy day to say the least! A huge blessing and something I only dreamt of as a kid. A huge thank you to @gatorade, @karltowns, and everyone involved for making my dreams come true❤️🤞🏼 pic.twitter.com/Udpu3xR2SL
— Paige Bueckers (@paigebueckers1) March 9, 2020
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.
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“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.
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