Sun beat Fever 92-71 in Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut


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Clark missed her first four shots before finally getting on the board midway through the second quarter.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The Caitlin Clark era in the WNBA has officially begun, although it got off to a slow start.

Clark went scoreless for nearly the first 15 minutes, before getting more comfortable and finishing with 20 points in the Indiana Fever’s 92-71 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night.

She missed her first four shots before finally getting on the board midway through the second quarter. The NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader stole the ball around the foul line and drove the length of the court before laying the ball in. Clark had said before the game that she thought her first basket would come on a layup since it was a “high-percentage” shot.

Clark later added two free throws and hit a 3-pointer with 29.9 seconds left in the first half to finish the opening 20 minutes with seven points, hitting two of her seven shot attempts.

She carried some of that momentum into the third quarter when she scored five of her points to try and rally the Fever, but it just wasn’t enough.

Before her first basket, Clark struggled and got into early foul trouble. Her first shot was a drive to the basket that bounced hard off the glass and into Aliyah Boston’s hands for a putback. Clark missed a runner in the lane, and then her 3 from the left wing just rimmed out. She did have an assist on one basket and threw a nifty behind-the-back pass to teammate Boston, but last season’s Rookie of the Year was called for a traveling violation.

RELATED: Indiana Fever matchup at Connecticut Sun leads to sellout crowd for season opener

Meanwhile, Clark was called for two fouls on the defensive end. The second one drew loud boos from the sellout crowd. The crowd gave the No. 1 pick in the draft a loud ovation when she was announced in the pregame introduction.

Before the game, Clark admitted she was eager for her WNBA debut. It was one of four games on the league’s opening night to tip-off the WNBA’s 28th season. New York, which was runner-up in the WNBA Finals, visited Washington to start the evening.

She sat around most of the day at the hotel and had to wait to get on the court when her team arrived nearly two and a half hours before tipoff.

“I just want to get out there and play,” Clark said. “I got plenty of time to sit and think about it. Still this is exciting. This is fun. … There’s just a different buzz in the air.”

Even before playing a WNBA game, Clark has left her mark in the pros. The league’s draft had record viewership, and her No. 22 Indiana Fever jerseys have been flying off the shelves. There were hundreds of fans walking around the arena in Clark jerseys and t-shirts.

Three WNBA teams have already moved their games to bigger arenas to keep up with the demand for tickets to watch her play. Her debut in Connecticut is sold out — the first sellout for the Sun in a season opener since they played their inaugural game at Mohegan Sun Arena in 2003 after moving from Orlando. There’s also a huge media turnout with nearly four-times the number of credentials issued for this game than a normal Sun contest.

Clark and her teammates took the court in a morning shootaround at the empty arena. She said afterward that she planned to watch more film during the day in her hotel room.

“I don’t feel nervous or really anxious,” Clark said. “I think I’m just excited more than anything and just embracing it.”

RELATED: How to watch Indiana Fever games on WTHR, re-scan your TV for a clearer signal

Clark said she’s not going to get too caught up on her play in her first game.

“If something isn’t perfect, my life’s not going to end,” she said. “If, you know, we lose the game tonight, my life’s not going to end. I’m just going to learn from it and come back on Thursday and try to help us win.”

This was the second sold-out crowd Clark has played in front of in her extremely young WNBA career. Her preseason game in Dallas was sold out, too. More than 13,000 fans also turned up for her only home preseason game.

Clark’s home debut will be Thursday, when the Fever host the New York Liberty.

Box score

Samuelson 1-2 2-2 5, Smith 5-12 2-2 13, Boston 2-6 0-0 4, Clark 5-15 6-6 20, Wheeler 3-3 1-1 8, Fagbenle 2-2 0-0 4, Berger 2-3 0-0 4, K.Mitchell 2-4 4-6 8, Wallace 2-3 0-2 5. Totals 24-50 15-19 71.

Bonner 8-14 4-5 20, Thomas 4-8 5-8 13, Jones 2-4 4-6 8, Carrington 6-15 3-3 16, Harris 6-11 0-0 16, Ndour-Fall 0-0 0-0 0, Nelson-Ododa 1-2 0-0 2, Banham 3-7 1-1 10, Jefferson 1-1 0-0 3, T.Mitchell 1-4 2-2 4. Totals 32-66 19-25 92.

Indiana            13    26    18    14    —    71

Connecticut    19    30    16    27    —    92

3-Point Goals: Indiana 8-20 (Clark 4-11, Wheeler 1-1, Samuelson 1-2, Wallace 1-2, Smith 1-3, K.Mitchell 0-1), Connecticut 9-21 (Harris 4-6, Banham 3-7, Jefferson 1-1, Carrington 1-3, T.Mitchell 0-1, Bonner 0-3). 

Rebounds: Indiana 28 (Smith 9), Connecticut 30 (Thomas 10). 

Assists: Indiana 16 (Clark, Samuelson 3), Connecticut 20 (Thomas 13). 

Total Fouls: Indiana 21, Connecticut 22. 

Attendance: 8,910 (9,323).

Fever on WTHR and WALV 

The Fever open the regular season on Tuesday, May 14 at Connecticut.

As the Local TV Home of the Indiana Fever, WTHR/WALV will broadcast 17 Fever games during the upcoming season. 

The broadcast schedule will include the home opener against the New York Liberty on Thursday, May 16.

Ten of the games will be shown for free over the air on WTHR, and seven of the games will be on WALV, which carries MeTV programming and is on Channel 13.3 and 46.1.

RELATED: Where to find WALV on cable/streaming

  • Thursday, May 16 — 7 p.m. New York — WTHR
  • Wednesday, May 22 — 10 p.m. @ Seattle — WTHR
  • Saturday, May 25 — 9 p.m. @ Las Vegas — WTHR
  • Thursday, May 30 — 7 p.m. Seattle — WTHR
  • Saturday, June 1 — 1 p.m. Chicago — WALV
  • Sunday, June 2 — 7 p.m. @ New York — WALV
  • Monday, June 10  — 7 p.m. @ Connecticut — WTHR
  • Thursday, June 13 — 7 p.m. Atlanta — WTHR
  • Sunday, June 23 —  6 p.m. @ Chicago — WALV
  • Thursday, June 27 — 10 p.m. @ Seattle — WALV
  • Wednesday, July 10 — Noon Washington — WTHR
  • Monday, Aug. 26 — 7:30 p.m. @ Atlanta — WTHR
  • Wednesday, Sept. 4 — 7 p.m. Los Angeles — WALV
  • Sunday, Sept. 8 — 4 p.m. Atlanta — WTHR
  • Wednesday, Sept. 11 — 7 p.m. Las Vegas — WALV
  • Sunday, Sept. 15 — 3 p.m. Dallas — WALV
  • Thursday, Sept. 19 — 7 p.m. @ Washington — WTHR

Also, 36 Fever games will be broadcast nationally this season.

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Sun beat Fever 92-71 in Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut

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