Paige Bueckers tries to put the fear out of her mind.

But it’s there when the 2021 AP national player of the year makes a cut or comes down hard on her surgically repaired left leg.

Bueckers is back on the court with her teammates — though not fully participating in practice games yet — 10 months after suffering the second major knee injury of her college career.

And she occasionally wonders, could it happen again?

“I believe that everything happens for a reason,” Bueckers said Wednesday following a team workout. “Anybody can be scared of getting injured. You don’t have to have a prior injury to do that. I think the fear is always there, but I try not to let it consume me and just go out there and have fun.”


Well, have fun and get in shape to lead UConn on a run at a 12th national title and its first since 2016, she said.

Bueckers was all-everything as a freshman, averaging 20 points, 5.8 assists and 4.9 rebounds a game.

But in December of her sophomore season, during the closing seconds of a win over Notre Dame, she twisted her left leg while dribbling upcourt and went down, suffering a tibia plateau fracture and torn meniscus.

She missed 19 games in 2021-22, but came back from that injury late in the season and led UConn to its 14th straight Final Four.

Then, last August, during a preseason workout, she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in that same knee and missed the entire 2022-23 season. The team still went 31-6, but lost in the Sweet 16 to Ohio State.



EASTERN LEAGUE: The Portland Sea Dogs were rained out at Binghamton, New York, and will play a doubleheader starting at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Joe Jones (0-0, 4.05 ERA) will start the opener for Portland and CJ Liu (4-3, 3.93 ERA) will start the second game. Binghamton will start Luis Moreno and Christian Scott.


WNBA: Dearica Hamby had 23 points and eight rebounds, Nneka Ogwumike added 20 points and 10 rebounds, and the visiting Los Angeles Sparks beat the Dallas Wings, 79-61.

Hamby scored 14 of her points in the third quarter to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 61-51 entering the fourth. The Sparks held Dallas to 10 fourth-quarter points.

Ogwumike reached 20-plus points for the fifth time in her last six games. Ogwumike also had two steals to pass Lindsay Whalen for 16th on the WNBA’s career list with 501.


Kalani Brown set career highs with 21 points and 11 rebounds for Dallas, which lost its first home game of the season.


OBIT: An Olympic ski jumper from McHenry, Illinois, has died in a motorcycle crash, officials confirmed.

Twenty-four-year-old Patrick Gasienica, who competed in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, died Monday afternoon in a crash while returning home from work.

Gasienica was transported to Northwestern Medicine McHenry Hospital, where he was pronounced dead from blunt force trauma, the McHenry County coroner’s office reported.

The McHenry County sheriff’s office is investigating.



STUTTGART OPEN: Third-seeded Frances Tiafoe overcame stubborn resistance from Jiri Lehecka to beat the Czech player 7-6 (2), 6-4.

Tiafoe, 25, next plays sixth-seeded Lorenzo Musetti in the quarterfinals. The Italian player defeated Gregoire Barrere 6-3, 6-3 in their second-round match. Musetti saved all seven break points he faced.

Also, in a meeting of two big-serving players, former Wimbledon semifinalist Hubert Hurkacz won 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) against qualifier Yosuke Watanuki

Hurkacz goes on to play Christopher O’Connell in the quarterfinals after the Australian beat Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 (5), 6-3.

NOTTINGHAM OPEN: Top-seeded Maria Sakkari and former champion Donna Vekic were eliminated at the last-16 stage in England.


Sakkari was beaten 6-1, 6-4 by Alize Cornet and Vekic, the winner in 2017 and the runner-up in ’19, lost Viktorija Golubic 6-4, 6-1.

WIMBLEDON: The total prize money at Wimbledon this year will rise by more than 11%, with the winners of the singles each getting 2.35 million pounds ($3 million).

The total prize fund at the championships will be 44.7 million pounds ($56.5 million), the All England Club said. That is an increase of 17.1% compared to 2019, the last Wimbledon before the pandemic.

The earnings for the winners of the singles competitions are back to the levels they were in 2019. The prize for the singles champions had dipped to 1.7 million pounds in 2021, after the tournament was canceled in 2020, and was 2 million last year.


RETIREMENT: Olympic swimming bronze medalist Sarah Wellbrock is retiring from the sport a year before the Paris Games because of longstanding health issues, she said.

The German swimmer won her medal in the 1,500-meter freestyle as Sarah Köhler at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 in a race won by Katie Ledecky. Wellbrock was in second place before being overtaken for the silver medal by American swimmer Erica Sullivan near the end.

“The sport of swimming was part of me for almost my entire life and determined my daily schedule for the last 18 years,” Wellbrock wrote in a farewell post on Instagram. “But for more than two years my body has no longer been able to put up with the strain. I gave everything for an Olympic medal and I was rewarded but now, for my own good, I have to draw a line.”

The 28-year-old Wellbrock, whose medal in Tokyo was the first for Germany in the pool since 2008, said she shed “countless tears” before making her decision to retire.

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