UConn rolls past Georgetown despite absences of Bueckers, Makurat

STORRS — Geno Auriemma described it as choppy. Christyn Williams said it was lagging.

UConn’s offense in Saturday’s 72-41 victory over Georgetown at Gampel Pavilion wasn’t aesthetically pleasing. Then again, without Paige Bueckers or Anna Makurat on the floor, the third-ranked Huskies didn’t expect it to be.

“It’s difficult to play when you’re missing someone who’s such an integral part of your offense,” Auriemma said. “I thought they handled it overall. I think overall it was like a horrendous basketball game to watch. It was a very difficult game to watch, the choppiness of it.”

Four players accounted for 64 of the Huskies’ points, with junior Olivia Nelson-Ododa scoring a team-high 19, including 11 straight in the third quarter. Williams contributed 17 points, Aubrey Griffin had 15 and Evina Westbrook 13.

Bueckers, the team’s leader in scoring (17.1), assists (5.6) and minutes played (35.1), is day-to-day after spraining her right ankle in the fourth quarter of last Thursday’s victory over No. 25 Tennessee. Auriemma said there’s a “better chance than not” the freshman point guard is back for UConn’s next game on Thursday at No. 15 Arkansas.

“Paige is going to get evaluated again today,” Auriemma said. “We’ve got a couple days off, which is really good. Hopefully by Tuesday she’ll be ready to go, if not Wednesday, I hope.”

Makurat, a sophomore, was also absent due to a lower-right leg injury that has been bothering her for a couple weeks. Both she and Bueckers were on the bench wearing protective boots.

“They’ve been doing rehab and they’ve tried to keep her limited on how much time she’s out on the floor, but it’s been bothering her,” Auriemma said.

Minus two of their better passers, the Huskies’ offense didn’t operate as efficiently as Auriemma would’ve liked. Georgetown stuffed the paint, daring them to shoot from the perimeter. The Huskies attempted a season-high 29 3-pointers, but made only nine.

Making her first start in place of Bueckers, freshman Nika Muhl had six points and five turnovers.

“There didn’t seem to be that same flow,” he said. “Having two pretty good passers out of the lineup is definitely going to affect your ball movement, it’s definitely going to affect the continuity of your offense, and two pretty good shooters. It was a double whammy.”

Said Williams: “It was pretty difficult. … Without (Bueckers), our offense was lagging a little.”

Ultimately, it didn’t cost them. Not against Georgetown, one of the Big East’s worst teams.

UConn closed the first quarter on a 16-4 run to lead by 12. The Hoyas were outscored 18-2 in the second quarter and finished the half with more turnovers than points (13-11). They trailed by as many as 41.

While the Hoyas picked up the pace a bit in the second half, scoring 30 points, it didn’t matter much.

“This game kind of showed right now it’s not at the level that we want it,” Nelson-Ododa said of UConn’s defense. “I think today was messy. At times we had really good stops and we had great traps and high intensity, but other times it was lacking.”

Notes: Class of 2021 early enrollee Saylor Poffenbarger was in attendance, watching from the stands. She’ll be eligible to join the team this week, assuming she continues to test negative for COVID-19. … UConn has won 29 straight and 46 of 52 all-time meetings with Georgetown.

dbonjour@ctpost.com; @DougBonjour