UConn Huskies guard Paige Bueckers had her dreams of a national championship controversially ended with a borderline offensive foul call during her team’s narrow 71-69 Final Four loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Bueckers, who opted to play an extra year in UConn colors, also has to deal with some of her teammates moving on and one of her closest friends, guard Nika Muhl, announced a few weeks ago that she would not be returning to Storrs.

UConn stars Paige Bueckers and Nika Muhl

The UConn star posted a picture of the duo on her Instagram stories with the caption:

“I love you more than my life,” Paige Bueckers wrote. ” This me fr now that you leaving.”

Paige Buecker's IG

Nika Muhl the glue of UConn

Nika Muhl is a defensive machine and has helped the UConn Huskies close out several tough games with her defensive awareness.

Muhl has won the Big East Defensive Player of the Year twice in her college basketball career and in the Final Four clash against the Iowa Hawkeyes, she competently kept star Caitlin Clark in check for the first half.

Clark finished 3-for-11 from the field and 0-for-6 from deep for 6 points in a difficult half against the determined Nika Muhl. The Huskies led 32-26 at the half.

Coach Geno Auriemma explained the strategy of using Nike Muhl as a defensive weapon to ESPN’s courtside reporter Holly Rowe at halftime.

“We’re trying to get (Clark) to go to some spots where maybe she’s not comfortable with and give (Muhl) as much help as we can,” Auriemma said.

UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards explained just how vital Muhl was to the Huskies’ setup after the game.

“She’s just the steady beat that really helps us go, helps us slow down, helps us just play at the pace that we need to play at on the defensive end,” Edwards said.

Paige Bueckers shows maturity in Iowa loss

Paige Bueckers was dissatisfied with how the game against the Iowa Hawkeyes ended with 10 seconds remaining after a disputed offensive foul was thrown on forward Aaliyah Edwards, allowing Iowa to win.

During her postgame news conference, Bueckers focused on the bigger picture and refused to be drawn into the controversial nature of the call that ended UConn’s dreams of a national championship.

“Everybody can make a big deal of that one single play, but not one single play wins a basketball game or loses a basketball game,” Bueckers said.

“I feel there were a lot of mistakes that I made that could have prevented that play from even being that big or causing the game.”

Coach Geno Auriemma will be delighted with standout Paige Bueckers’ growth and maturity as she seeks to restore her reputation as the top dog in women’s college basketball by playing an extra year for the Huskies.