Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers is helped off the court by Amari DeBerrym, left, after injuring herself late in the Huskies’ win over Notre Dame on Sunday in Storrs, Connecticut. Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Paige Bueckers, the University of Connecticut sophomore who is the reigning national Player of the Year in women’s college basketball, is expected to miss six to eight weeks with a tibial plateau fracture, a left knee injury she suffered Sunday afternoon.

Bueckers went down with a noncontact injury with 38 seconds left in the Huskies’ 73-54 victory over Notre Dame, silencing the crowd at Gampel Pavilion as she grabbed her knee in apparent pain. Teammates Amari DeBerry and Evina Westbrook helped her from the court.

“Obviously, we’re all extremely disappointed for Paige and that she suffered this injury,” Coach Geno Auriemma said in a statement released Tuesday. “It would be really hard to describe how much basketball means to Paige and how much her teammates mean to her. Not being able to do the thing that she loves to do, to be there for her teammates, is really difficult for her. We’ve had players get injured in the past and my philosophy here is, I’m not interested in how fast we can get someone back; I’m interested in what’s best for them long term. Every decision made will prioritize what’s best for Paige and her career. Everyone involved with this program will be there to support Paige through her healing process.”

Although the No. 3 Huskies’ lead was only seven points at the beginning of the fourth quarter, they were ahead by 18 with less than a minute left when Bueckers went down, prompting a question for Auriemma during his postgame news conference about why she was still in the game.

“She never wants to come out (of a game). … We’ve made a concerted effort in the last three or four games to get her some rest during the game,” Auriemma said.

Bueckers has been on the court for 38 or more minutes in all but two of UConn’s games this season, and she was headed for her second 40-minute game Sunday when her left leg gave way.

“I don’t have an answer for why she was in the game. I mean, that could happen any time. It could happen in practice. It could happen in a game,” Auriemma said. “But I don’t like our team without her on the court. I mean, I might have to like it if she misses any time, but I don’t like the way our team looks when she’s not on the floor.”

Bueckers had scored 22 points in her fourth 20-point game of the season for the 5-1 Huskies.

“You just kind of shake your head and hope that what you saw wasn’t as bad as you think it might be or as it appeared,” Auriemma said, “but you immediately put yourself in that kid’s shoes and, ‘What are they thinking? How are they feeling right now? What’s going through their mind when something like that happens?’ And that’s the part that I think really hits you in the pit of your stomach.”

Even as a freshman, Bueckers hassled Auriemma about her playing time. Late in a game last spring, with the Huskies enjoying a comfortable lead and a teammate at the free throw line, Bueckers noticed a sub preparing to enter for her and told her teammate to miss the free throw to keep the substitution from occurring.

“Then she came off and checked the stat sheet,” Auriemma told The Washington Post in March. “And she goes, ‘You owe me two more minutes tomorrow, because I didn’t get to play my average (minutes).’ . . . I love her and everything, but there’s something not quite right about her.”

(20) OHIO STATE 94, MOUNT ST. MARY’s 50: Jacy Sheldon scored 13 of her 19 points in the first half and host Ohio State (7-1) jumped out early and cruised to a victory over Mount St. Mary’s (1-6).

BOWDOIN 69, UM-FARMINGTON 43: The Polar Bears (9-1) opened with a 13-0 run and went on for the win over the Beavers (6-3) in Farmington.

Sydney Jones had 19 points, Sela Kay added 12 points and Tori Beck finished with seven points for Bowdoin. Jones was 9 of 17 (53 percent) from the field and also had eight rebounds and four steals.

Reserve Molly Folsom led UMF with 10 points, followed by Alex Bessey with nine, and Tia Day and McKenna Brodeur with eight apiece.

WOMEN’S HOCKEY

BOWDOIN 3, SOUTHERN MAINE 0: Zoe Wilson, Brett Stoddard and Izzi Stoddard scored and Meg Miranda stopped 17 shots as the Polar Bears (4-3) shut out the Huskies (6-6) in Brunswick.

Wilson scored 6:10 into the game and Brett Stoddard made it 2-0 36 seconds later. Izzi Stoddard scored on a power play at 9:21 of the second period.

Haley McKim stopped 37 shots for the Huskies.

MEN’S BASKETBALL

(8) KANSAS 78, UTEP 52: Ochai Agbaji scored 23 points, Christian Braun added 20 and host Kansas (7-1) tuned up for this weekend’s return of the Border War with a blowout of UTEP (4-4).

David McCormack and Mitch Lightfoot added eight points apiece for the Jayhawks, who led by 21 at halftime and weren’t threatened the rest of the way.

Now, the Jayhawks turn their attention to Saturday’s showdown with Missouri. The bitter rivals have not played a regular-season game since the Tigers bolted for the SEC nearly a decade ago.

(10) KENTUCKY 76, SOUTHERN 64: Oscar Tshiebwe scored 18 of his 23 points after halftime despite being in foul trouble, TyTy Washington Jr. added 14 points and both keyed small runs to help host Kentucky (7-1) top Southern (3-6) for its seventh consecutive victory.

Jayden Saddler had 18 points, Brion Whitley added 14 points and Tyrone Lyons 12 for Southern, which dropped its second consecutive game.

TEXAS TECH 57, (13) TENNESSEE 52: Terrence Shannon, Jr. had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Texas Tech (7-1) continued its run of Jimmy V Classic upsets in an overtime win over Tennessee (6-2) at New York.

Texas Tech knocked off No. 1 Louisville in 2019.

FOOTBALL

PITT: Offensive coordinator Mark Whipple resigned, the school announced. He is not expected to coach Pitt in the Peach Bowl against Michigan State on Dec. 30.

Whipple’s decision — which was family-related, sources told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — comes three days after Pitt’s 45-21 win over Wake Forest in the ACC championship. Whipple is also a candidate to become Nebraska’s new coordinator, according to a report from the Lincoln Journal Star.

Whipple, 64, was the architect of college football’s third-highest scoring offense, averaging 43 points per game in his third season with the Panthers. He was also named one of 15 semifinalists for this year’s Broyles Award, given to the top assistant coach in the country.

AWARD: Michigan offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Josh Gattis is the Broyles Award winner for the nation’s best assistant college football coach.

Under Gattis’ direction, Michigan ranks 10th nationally in yards rushing per game, 13th in scoring with 37.7 points per contest and 18th nationally with 451.9 yards per game.


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