Caitlin Clark and Indiana Fever defeat Angel Reese and Chicago Sky for first home win, 71-70 | News, sports, jobs

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark, 22, makes a move around the defense of Chicago Sky guard Lindsay Allen, left, during a WNBA basketball game Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark threw the ball high in the air as time expired Saturday. Veteran guard Kelsey Mitchell just started clapping.

Finally, after four straight home defeats, the Fever were celebrating.

In the final matchup between college rivals Clark and Angel Reese, and on a day when former South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso made her regular-season professional debut in front of another sold-out crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Clark finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists . in a 71-70 win over the Chicago Sky on Pride Day.

“It was great, and I think it came at a great time,” Clark said after winning the first match of the Commissioner’s Cup. “Our fans were great. They were energetic. You know as a team we really haven’t shot the ball well at all and you know sometimes that’s hard for the fans, like they get to see that. But I think they really appreciated our great defense tonight.”

Clark got plenty of help from her teammates even before Marina Mabrey missed the first of two free throws for the Sky with 6.6 seconds left to make it a one-point game before Clark’s ball throw.

Mitchell scored 18 points, NaLyssa Smith had 17 points and nine rebounds, while Kristy Wallace and Aliyah Boston each scored 10. Boston, Cardoso’s former teammate at South Carolina, also had eight rebounds as the Fever (2-8) posted a three-game losing streak. stripe.

However, this match was about much more than just scores or statistics.

It featured three of the top seven picks from this year’s draft – three players in a generational rookie class who could all become the new faces of the WNBA – and a week in which Fever fans were treated to seeing each of the top four draft picks and five of the top seven.

This time, Clark got the upper hand over two of the women who kept her from winning an NCAA championship, even taking a shoulder shot from Chennedy Carter before catching an inbounds pass in the third quarter. The officials called it a ‘away from the ball foul’.

Carter said she would not answer questions about Clark.

“I didn’t expect it,” Clark said initially. “It is what it is. It’s a physical game. Go take the free throw and run the offense, and I feel like that’s pretty much what we did.

Still, the rematches are between Clark, a two-time NCAA player of the year and a two-time national runner-up in Division I, against Cardoso, who won her second title with the Gamecocks in March, and especially Reese, who led LSU to a second-place finish. National title of 2023, fascinated the audience.

Reese did not answer questions from reporters after the game.

Before the game, Fever coach Christie Sides tried to heighten the rivalry between the two Midwestern teams, but the loud pregame ovation for Clark and some boos that were quickly drowned out by cheers for Reese during pregame introductions typified the showdown.

Reese finished with eight points and 13 rebounds in her final round against Clark, while Cardoso played for the first time since injuring her right shoulder in a preseason game on May 3. Cardoso had 11 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes, but was called for a foul that led to Boston’s three-point play with 1:19 remaining, proving the difference.

“First game back and she played pretty well too,” said Carter, who had 19 points and six assists to lead the Sky (3-4). “She hasn’t been in this position yet and closed out the game, so let’s give her some time.”

Marina Mabrey finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for Chicago.

Cardoso entered for the first time midway through the first quarter and wasted no time in making an impression. She had six points and four rebounds during a six-minute stretch in which the Sky erased a 22-16 deficit, took the lead and kept the momentum going to complete a 15-4 spurt after Cardoso left midway through the second quarter.

Clark helped spark Indiana’s response, a 9-0 run just before halftime that gave the Fever a 35-31 lead.

Chicago stormed back to tie the score at 37 early in the second half, but Indiana answered with six straight points to end the third quarter with a 54-49 lead. The Sky rallied again late after falling behind 68-58 and closed the match on a 12-3 run, but couldn’t quite come back.

“I thought earlier this season if we had shot like that, we wouldn’t have won the game because we didn’t have that resilience and we would have let it affect our defensive play,” Clark said. “So just proud of us, I thought we were really gritty.”


Sky: Take a quick break before hosting the New York Liberty on Tuesday.

Fever: Visit New York for the second time this season on Sunday.

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