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Indiana Fever Week 3 Recap: Indiana Fever earns first home win, but Caitlin Clark ends up on the other end of some brutal shots

The WNBA season has been a mix of frustration and patience for the Indiana Fever. Their draft pick, Caitlin Clark of Iowa, was a game changer, but she’s also adapting to the competition.

In short, the entire Fever team is adapting to playing with each other. And patiently waiting for progress to manifest.

May 28: Los Angeles Sparks at Indiana

This was the second time this season that these two teams faced each other; The first time, the Fever scored their first win of the season.

Only this time, Los Angeles had the upper hand at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

In what could be considered her best game yet of her rookie season, Clark showed her potential by dropping a whopping 30 points, adding six assists and grabbing five rebounds. Despite the loss, Clark’s performance was a highlight of the match.

Veterans of the Sparks were the big players, with Kia Nurse and Aari McDonald both showing up. Nurse scored 22 points, while McDonald added 21 points. Dearica Hamby contributed 17 points, 10 rebounds and five assists for the Sparks.

It was a rally of a game with the Sparks pulling through the final minutes.

What drew the most media attention in this game was when McDonald rushed Clark to guard her between free throw attempts. McDonald accidentally rushed to defend Clark while she had one free throw left. It was an accurate representation of the crowds Clark draws on the court with her opponents.

The Fever struggled offensively, shooting just 38.2% from the field. Even though the Sparks committed 19 turnovers, their three-point shooting was impeccable as they posted a season-best 14. While the Fever started the third quarter on an 11-0 run, it didn’t last long as the Sparks went on a run in the final quarter.

Aaliyah Boston faced foul trouble throughout the game, but scored 17 points and six rebounds. Kelsey Mitchell continued her standout season with 15 points.

Striker Temi Fagbenle suffered a left foot injury during the match. The team announced she would miss at least 2-3 weeks. Fagbenle is averaging 9.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 23.1 minutes per game.

Even though the Fever had their star players putting up big numbers, it wasn’t enough. The Sparks defeated the Fever on their home court 88-82.

May 30: Seattle Storm in Indiana

The Fever faced the red-hot Seattle Storm, who are led by four WNBA All-Stars, in a match where the Fever struggled to keep up the pace.

Jewell Loyd scored 22 points, Skylar Diggins-Smith added 18 points and nine assists for the Storm, and Nneka Ogwumike added 17. It was an excellent performance for Seattle as the team scored 103 points on the season.

Fever coach Christie Sides kept Clark in the game for all but four seconds. Clark made the most of her time on the floor, scoring 20 points and nine assists.

It was a close game at halftime as Seattle led 47-41, but the Fever defense fell apart early in the second half as the Storm got within 12-2. The Storm sank 12 of 17 shots in the third quarter and outscored the Fever 34-18.

The Fever’s defense was the main reason they couldn’t keep up with the Storm. The team committed 13 turnovers and 16 personal fouls. It didn’t help that the Storm shot 56% from the field and 42.1% from deep.

NaLyssa Smith found herself back in the starting lineup due to Fagbenle’s injury. Smith scored a team-high 23 points and grabbed 10 rebounds.

“Our goal is to win here,” Smith said after the game. “I’m just ready to win. It’s not a good feeling to lose all these games.”

After falling apart defensively in the second half, the Fever fell to the Storm 103-88.

June 1: Chicago Sky in Indiana

After four consecutive defeats at home, the Fever finally broke the streak.

Clark faced her college rivals Angel Reese and Kamilla Cardoso as the Chicago Sky traveled to Indiana. It was Cardoso’s professional debut to a sold-out crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. It was also the Fever’s first game of the WNBA Commissioners Cup.

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Chicago Sky’s Angel Reese (5) defends against Indiana Fever’s NaLyssa Smith (1) during the second quarter at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Saturday, June 1, 2024 in Indianapolis. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images/TNS)

Mitchell dropped 18 points, Smith had 17 points and nine rebounds, Kristy Wallace and Boston each had 10 points, and Clark finished with 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. It was quite an effort by the Fever to put on a show for the crowd.

The game featured three of the top seven picks from this year’s draft, and most importantly, the top three players in a rookie class that the WNBA has changed this season. But this match also meant a lot to Clark as she sought revenge on two of the players who kept her from winning an Iowa title the past two seasons.

Clark did get revenge, but was also caught on the other end of some cheap shots by Sky players.

Before an inbounds pass during the third quarter, Sky’s Chennedy Carter took a shoulder shot at Clark, knocking her directly to the ground, which ultimately was just called a “away-from-the-ball” foul and nothing more.

After the game, Carter declined to answer questions about Clark. Reese also did not answer reporters’ questions after the game.

“I didn’t expect it,” Clark initially said after the game. “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.

Reese finished with eight points and 13 rebounds, while Cardoso had 11 points and six rebounds in her WNBA debut. Carter finished the game with a team-high 19 points and six assists.

Indiana went on a 9-0 run, sparked by Clark before halftime, giving the Fever a four-point lead at the half. Chicago stormed back early in the second half and continued to rally with the Fever as the third quarter progressed.

The Sky closed the game on a 12-3 run, coming into a 10-point deficit that the Fever held. Marina Mabrey had a chance to tie the game at the free throw line in the final seconds, but failed to make either shot.

It allowed Clark to throw the ball high in the air as time expired, ultimately giving the Fever the 71-70 victory against the Sky.

June 2: Indiana at New York Liberty

In her early games in the W, Clark has had some special “welcome to the league” moments. But Sunday night’s game against the New York Liberty could be her “welcome to the league” game. Clark had just one basket and three points in probably her worst game of her pro career. She was closely guarded all night by Betnijah Laney-Hamilton and Kayla Thorton.

And once again for the Fever they fought mightily. Laney-Hamilton scored 20 points and Jonquel Jones had 18 for the Liberty.

It was a tough period in the Fever’s season after they started with eleven games in twenty days. It was also the third time they played New York early in the season. The Liberty took advantage of the depleted Fever and took a 31-13 lead after just one quarter. At halftime, New York led 55-37. Indiana was able to get within 12 early in the third quarter until the Liberty ran away with the game.

Mitchell led Indiana in scoring, dropping 21 points. Smith had 17 points and eight rebounds, as the Fever shot 37% from the field and 25% from long range. On the other hand, the Liberty scored the most points in a game this season as they shot 57.6% from the field. All five of Liberty’s starters had at least four assists, while the entire team also had 30 combined.

Near the end of the brutal defeat at the hands of the Liberty, Boston and Clark both left the game: Clark due to apparent ear discomfort and Boston after an awkward fall. Both No. 1 picks did not return to the game after heading to the locker room.

Next up for the Fever is a much-needed weeklong rest until next Friday when they travel to Washington to take on the Mystics.


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