At one point in the third quarter UConn had five freshmen on the floor, adding Mir McLean (seven points, four rebounds, three assists) and Saylor Poffenbarger, who joined the Huskies last month after graduating high school early.
“They looked like they knew what they were doing and Paige looked like their ring leader,” Auriemma said. “They seemed to have some fun out there and played some, really, really good minutes.”
St. John’s Leilani Correa fell two points shy of her career high, putting up 33 to lead the Red Storm (5-10, 2-8).
The Huskies played without guard Christyn Williams (16.8 points per game), who sat with a left ankle injury and sophomore Aubrey Griffin played just two minutes after banging her right knee in practice.
“Obviously Christyn, her being a big scoring threat, having her out, I knew I had to step it up a little big more,” Bueckers said.
UConn opened the game on a 10-2 run, with six points from Edwards, who got open early and often in the lane. The Huskies led 22-12 after 10 minutes, closing the first quarter on a 9-0 run.
St. John’s shot 50% from the floor, including 52% in the first half, but trailed 44-24 at intermission.
“We need to play better defensively, that’s the reason why we were down,” St. John’s coach Joe Tartamella said. “We didn’t defend, rebound or take one free throw.”
Bueckers, who hit her first five shots from the floor, had 18 first-half points.
St. John’s: The Red Storm’s leading scorer, Qadashah Hoppie, recently had shoulder surgery and will miss the rest of the season. The injury limited her to eight games, where she averaged 18 points and was shooting 40% from 3-point range.
UConn: Bueckers 32 points were the most by a UConn freshman since Tina Charles set the record with 34 against South Florida in 2007. … Williams tested her ankle about an hour before the game but did not come back out with her team for final warmups.
STATS OF THE NIGHT
UConn had 27 assists on 35 baskets and scored 37 points off of 27 St. John’s turnovers.