MILWAUKEE — Freshman Paige Bueckers scored 30 points to lead No. 3 UConn to an 87-58 win on Friday night over Marquette in a battle for first place in the Big East.
Bueckers, who was coming off a season-high 32 points in a win Wednesday over St. John’s, has scored at least 20 points in her last four games.
“She’s being Paige,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “She’s being about as good a player as there is in the country right now.”
Christyn Williams added 18 points for the Huskies (13-1, 11-0 Big East), who tuned up for Monday’s showdown with No. 2 South Carolina by shooting better than 57% from the floor.
Lauren Van Kleunen had 13 of her 18 points in the first half to lead Marquette (13-2, 9-2), which lost for the first time in seven games. Camryn Taylor had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Selena Lott, who came into the game averaging 16.1 points per game, was held to just four points and seven shots.
Williams, who missed the Huskies’ last game with ankle injury, had eight first-quarter points and the Huskies jumped out to a 21-14 lead after 10 minutes.
UConn used a 14-2 second-quarter run to take control of the game. A reverse layup by Bueckers, high off the glass and a spinning layup from Aaliyah Edwards pushed the lead to 37-20.
The Huskies made 62% of their shots in the first half and Bueckers pull-up jumper sent the Huskies into the locker room with a 41-22 lead.
Bueckers’ 3-pointer from the right wing gave the Huskies their first 20-point lead at 46-24 and UConn cruised from there.
“They had too many points in the paint,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said. “So we kind of made the decision to, ‘OK can we pack the paint a little bit more, kind of dare them to shoot a few more 3s. And they hit six 3s in that third quarter. So, it was pick your poison a little bit.”
UConn freshman Nika Muhl scored eight points and had nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals. Auriemma said her intensity, especially on the defense end set the tone for the game.
“I wanted to come here and take the role of being the energy, especially on the defensive end,” Muhl said. “And I’m definitely getting the energy back from my teammates.”
PLAY OF THE GAME
Aaliyah Edwards (11 points on 4 of 4 shooting) blocked a 3-point attempt by Liza Karlen, grabbed the ball on the run, hit a layup and was fouled. Her 3-point play gave the Huskies a 65-44 lead in the third quarter and stopped any thoughts of a Marquette comeback. Edwards left the game in the fourth quarter after getting a head to the face from Camryn Taylor while taking a charge.
The Huskies improved to 10-0 all-time against Marquette. The teams had not met since 2013.
UConn: Bueckers came into the game hitting 58.3% of her 3-point shots. She improved on that, going 6 of 9 from behind the arc on Friday.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles were just 3 of 14 from 3-point range.