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Freshman Caroline Ducharme has burst on the scene for UConn women’s basketball

Caroline Ducharme (left) had 24 points against Louisville Dec. 19.Jessica Hill/Associated Press

Nothing is promised to members of the Connecticut women’s basketball team. Call it fuel to freshman Caroline Ducharme’s fire.

Dubbed “the silent assassin” by UConn star Paige Bueckers over the summer, the Noble & Greenough alum from Milton is now making significant noise, a clap of thunder during a summer storm.

“I wanted to come here to be challenged,” said Ducharme, a 6-foot-2-inch guard. “I knew it was going to be hard. Everyone says they’re OK with that, but to really be in that opportunity where you’re forced to learn, grow, and adjust, that was big for me.”

After playing a combined 25 minutes and scoring 4 points over UConn’s first four games, Ducharme has broken out. First, a 14-point fourth quarter in a victory over No. 24 Notre Dame. Again 14 points in a win over UCLA two games later. She followed that with a career-high 24-point, 8-rebound effort in a loss to current No. 3 Louisville and 17- and 18-point performances to open league play.

Overall, Ducharme is averaging 9.3 points per game for the 10th-ranked Huskies (8-3, 3-0 Big East).

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ESPN’s No. 5 player nationally for the Class of 2021, Ducharme won back-to-back Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year awards after missing 18 months during the first half of her high school career because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament and a torn labrum. She committed to UConn following her junior year of high school.

“Actually getting here was definitely surreal,” Ducharme said. “Now I’m more comfortable, but it’s still definitely really exciting to be here and finally get to play.”

Ducharme capitalized on her opportunity when a rash of injuries hit the Huskies. Bueckers got hurt in the Notre Dame game. Guard Nika Mühl missed three games and 2021 top-ranked recruit Azzi Fudd has been out since late November, leaving Ducharme as one of just three healthy guards on the roster.

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The start of the season served as a learning opportunity in which Ducharme soaked up all she could from her teammates and coaching staff. She watched film on her own and set up a weekly session with coaches, building off the video sessions she often led at Nobles. Ducharme locked in on the things she did best, quickly understanding her role on the team.

“There was a mental toughness part that I find very rare in today’s players,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma told reporters earlier this year about recruiting Ducharme. “She has it, and then she has a sneaky way of getting points on the board.”

Ducharme’s parents, Todd and Chrissy, never miss a game. She’s in constant contact with siblings: Ashley, a senior on the basketball team at Brown, and Reid, a junior at Brewster Academy (N.H.) who counts UConn among his eight college basketball offers.

Reid Ducharme is not surprised at his sister’s success.

“She wins no matter what she does,” Reid said. “It was just a matter of time. She got that opportunity and didn’t waste it. She definitely likes to work at everything, she’s always trying to do something to get better and is super focused.”

“She’s just not going to be denied,” Ashley said. “That’s always been her motto.”

The attention surrounding the UConn program is a lot different from Nobles. They are the top dogs in their media market, the most followed program in women’s college hoops.

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“We just try to stay within ourselves and our team, focusing on our program, team, and staff,” Ducharme said. “It’s definitely cool to be in a place where women’s basketball is talked about so much and cared about so much.

“It’s put on this big platform, and that’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come here.”

Jones is on point

It didn’t take Sydney Jones long to assert herself as a critical member of the No. 21 Bowdoin team. A 5-6 guard and a high school teammate of Ducharme’s at Nobles, Jones is averaging 12.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and a team-high 2.5 steals for the Polar Bears (11-3, 1-1). She took advantage of an opportunity at point guard when teammates went down with injury.

“Having the ball in my hands has been really beneficial to me finding my place on the court,” Jones said.

Jones, whose father, Joe, is the men’s coach at Boston University, is one of five Massachusetts natives on the roster. A perennial Division 3 power in the loaded NESCAC, Bowdoin has a championship mentality.

“It’s really important for us to prove to ourselves that we’re up there with the top teams in the country,” said Jones, who won the 2020 NEPSAC Class AA title with Nobles. “I know this team is competitive and looking for a championship.”

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Honor roll

Maria Gakdeng (Boston College), Claudia Soriano (Northeastern), and Harmoni Turner (Harvard) are all three-time Rookies of the Week in their respective conferences … Holy Cross senior Avery LaBarbera dominated in a key win over reigning Patriot League champ Lehigh with career highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds … BC senior Cam Swartz tied a program high with 39 points in win at Clemson.