Paige Bueckers scored eight points in 12 minutes Friday night, returning from a left knee injury that kept her out for more than two months and helping No. 7 UConn to a 93-38 rout of St. John’s.
The sophomore guard was cleared to play against St. John's at the XL Center in Hartford Friday night, according to UConn.
The reigning national player of the year had not played since Dec. 5, when she suffered a tibial plateau fracture and torn meniscus in her left knee during the final seconds of the Huskies’ win over Notre Dame.
Bueckers didn’t start this one, but checked in with 3:41 left in the first quarter to a standing ovation with the Huskies already leading 19-4.
The fans were on their feet again after Bueckers made a couple of juke moves and drained her first shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer. The Huskies led 30-8 after 10 minutes.
“It’s been challenging, hard, just having to watch the team, not being able to play and help them in practice and in game — all the rehab,” she told television network SNY before the game. “It’s been a mental challenge for sure, a physical challenge as well. But, I’m just so excited and I don’t think words can explain how excited I am to be out there.”
Freshman Azzi Fudd led the Huskies (21-5, 15-1 Big East) with 19 points. Aaliyah Edwards added 16 and Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Caroline Ducharme each scored 13.
Camree Clegg and Kadaja Bailey each had nine points for St. John’s (11-17, 7-11), which had won four of its previous five games.
The Red Storm was never in this one. UConn scored the game’s first 17 points, led 51-19 at the half and 78-28 after three quarters.
Earlier this week, UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said he didn't think Bueckers would be able to play until the post-season. That changed and she was cleared to play.
St. John’s: The Red Storm came in averaging 73.8 points points per game. They were held to 26.4% shooting in this one.
UConn: Bueckers averaged 21.2 points, 6.2 assists and 5.5 rebounds in the six games she played before her injury. UConn went 15-4 without her, falling out of the top 10 for a short time, which was the first time that had happened since 2005. She was one of eight UConn players to miss at least two games this season. Edwards and Evina Westbrook have been the only players to make an appearance in every game this season.
St. John’s: The Red Storm finish the regular season at Marquette on Sunday.
UConn: The Huskies are 21-5 overall. They'll close the regular season on Sunday when they return to campus to host Providence.