UConn eases past Jackson State on Geno Auriemma's 70th birthday

Paige Bueckers notches 28-point double-double in tournament return (2:05)

Paige Bueckers puts up 28 points and 11 boards to power UConn to a win in her return to the women's NCAA tournament. (2:05)

STORRS, Conn. -- Paige Bueckers scored 28 points and freshman Ashlynn Shade added 26 as No. 3 seed UConn celebrated coach Geno Auriemma's 70th birthday with an 86-64 win over Jackson State in the first round of the women's NCAA tournament on Saturday.

"Happy birthday Grandpa," Bueckers said at the postgame news conference, as her coach flicked water from his drinking cup in her direction. "It's a lot better feeling when you win it, especially on a special day for him, you want it to be a special day."

Aaliyah Edwards, wearing a mask after missing two games with a broken nose, had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskies (30-5), who won in the opening round of the tournament for a 30th straight time.

Ti'Ian Boler scored 25 points and Angel Jackson had 13 for 14th-seeded Jackson State (26-7), which lost for the first time in 22 games.

The Tigers' Miya Crump opened the game with a jumper, and Jackson State led briefly at 4-2.

But Bueckers sparked a 17-0 Husky run by scoring eight of UConn's first 10 points. She gave Connecticut its first lead at 5-4 on an up-and-under layup and foul shot.

UConn led 22-8 after 10 minutes, and took its first 20-point lead at 39-19 on a 3-pointer from Bueckers, who also pulled down 11 rebounds and had seven assists in the game.

"Paige, when she starts off like that, it makes everybody feel a lot more confident," Auriemma said. "They can breath a little bit easier knowing that she's pretty much taken control of the game."

Boler's 3-pointer from the right corner at the buzzer sent the teams into the half with UConn leading 49-28.

A 3-pointer from Nika Muhl as the third quarter expired put the Huskies up 72-50, and Connecticut cruised from there.

UConn shot 50% from the field and finished with nine 3-pointers, five of them from Shade.

"I just felt like it was a dream," the freshman said of her first NCAA tournament game. "It was such a surreal moment to be out there. It was just really exciting."

The Huskies improved to 13-1 in games played on their coach's birthday.

UConn will face the winner of Saturday's second game between No. 6 seed Syracuse and No. 11 seed Arizona.

This was Jackson State's third NCAA tournament appearance in the past four years, but the Tigers have never advanced past the first round.