UConn’s Bueckers suffered fracture, may miss up to 2 months

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Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers, center, is helped off the court by Amari DeBerry, left, and Evina Westbrook in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Notre Dame, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — UConn star Paige Bueckers suffered a fracture just below her left knee and will be sidelined for up to two months, the school said Tuesday.

Last season’s women’s college basketball player of the year was dribbling up the court with under 40 seconds left in Sunday’s 73-54 victory over Notre Dame when she stumbled and came down awkwardly. She had to be carried off the court.

The school said an MRI and CT scan showed she suffered a tibial plateau fracture, which is a break of the tibia bone that extends into the knee joint. It has a recovery time estimated at between six and eight weeks.

UConn coach Geno Aureimma said the school will not rush Bueckers back to the court.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Bueckers is averaging 21.2 points, 6.2 assists and 5.5 rebounds for No. 3 UConn.

Dr. Michael Miranda, the director of orthopedic trauma at Hartford Hospital, who is not treating Bueckers, described a tibial plateau fracture as the femur, or thigh bone, banging into the spongy top of the tibia, a bone in the lower leg, as the result of an acute stop.

“It gets pinched, very much like Styrofoam, and that’s the impaction injury that she has,” he said.

Skiing star Lindsey Vonn suffered a similar injury in 2016. Miranda said such injuries typically don’t require surgery and heal relatively quickly with proper rehabilitation.

“It sounds terrible, but she’s actually very lucky, because the rehab from this bony injury is a lot quicker than the rehab from an ACL (tear),” he said. “You hate to see an athlete injured in any way, but at the same time, an ACL versus an impaction injury to the tibial plateau, this is the much better injury.”

The Huskies (5-1) visit Georgia Tech on Thursday. They are also without freshman Azzi Fudd. The nation’s consensus top recruit last year is resting a stress injury to her right foot and is expected to be out at least two weeks.

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More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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