UConn women’s basketball opened the NCAA Tournament with a 102-59 rout of the 16-seed High Point Panthers.
Nika Muhl left the game in the second quarter after twisting her right ankle. She went to the locker room on crutches at halftime and did not return. Muhl hurt her left ankle in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament but returned to play in the semifinals the next day.
“Nika is still getting looked at by our trainer,” acting head coach Chris Dailey said postgame. “She’s gonna go back to the hotel, get some treatment and we’ll know more in the morning.”
Paige Bueckers scored a game-high 24 points and added nine rebounds, six assists and four steals. Olivia Nelson-Ododa finished with 22 points and seven rebounds while Aaliyah Edwards earned a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards.
UConn dominated in the post with more points in the paint (62) than High Point had total points (59) and owned a 52-23 advantage on the glass. Nearly half (35 of 71) of the Huskies’ shots were layups as well. Overall, UConn shot 59 percent to the Panthers’ 33 percent.
The Huskies’ took advantage of their overwhelming size advantage and worked the ball inside from the opening tip with their first three possessions all going through Nelson-Ododa in the lane. In the first quarter, 20 of UConn's 25 points came in the paint.
On the other end of the floor, High Point took the opposite approach with 17 of its 30 first half shots coming from beyond the arc. The Panthers made 35 percent from three but just 25 percent overall from the floor for the quarter.
It took over six minutes for Bueckers to even take her first shot. She had just two points in the first quarter but quickly made up for lost time with 11 points in the second.
The Huskies steadily built their lead despite not scoring more than eight points in a row and went into the locker room up 53-29.
UConn out-scored High Point by just two points in the third but opened the final quarter with a 15-1 run to turn the game into a rout. The Huskies ultimately came away with a 43 point victory.
Chris Dailey improves to 11-0 as acting head coach. UConn has scored at least 100 points in the first round of the last five NCAA Tournaments.
Next, the Huskies will face 8-seed Syracuse in the second round on Tuesday, March 22 at 9 p.m. on ESPN.