STORRS, Conn. (AP)UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Wednesday his team has lost a third guard to injury a day after learning that star Paige Bueckers likely will be out up to two months with a left leg fracture.
Nika Muhl is expected to miss about three weeks dealing with pain and a stress problem in her right foot, which has been bothering her since she suffered a sprain against High Point in the NCAA Tournament last season, Auriemma said.
The sophomore from Croatia was expected to see extended playing time filling in for Bueckers and freshman Azzi Fudd, who is dealing with a similar right foot stress injury, and won’t be back for at least a couple of weeks.
”When you lose somebody like Paige, but if you have Nika available it takes some of the sting off,” Auriemma said. ”If you have Azzi available it takes some of the sting off. But when you throw in all three of that, that’s a real gut punch.”
Bueckers suffered a tibial plateau fracture,which is a break of the tibia bone that extends into the knee joint, in the waning moments of the Huskies’ win Sunday over Notre Dame. Last season’s national player of the year is expected to miss between six and eight weeks.
The No. 3 Huskies are also without forward Aubrey Griffin, who has yet to play this season because of ankle and back injuries. Auriemma said the junior tried to practice Tuesday, but it did not go well.
The coach said he hopes the healthy members of his team will deal with the adversity by rallying around each other.
”We’re going to stick together, it’s been an adjustment in practice,” senior guard Christyn Williams said. ”Everybody’s trying to figure out their new role and that’s expected, but it’s going to take a team effort to fill the gap.”
The injuries leave UConn with just three healthy guards, Williams, senior Evina Westbrook and freshman Caroline Ducharme, who scored 14 points in a breakout performance during the Huskies’ 73-54 win over the Irish.
UConn (5-1) is on the road this week with a game Thursday in Atlanta against Georgia Tech before playing UCLA on Saturday in Newark, New Jersey.
”We have to be able to grow up, still be there for our teammates aren’t being able to play, but at the same time we have to get it done on the court,” Westbrook said.
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