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'Disappointed' Caitlin Clark makes WNBA debut, scores 20 points in Indiana loss

Associated Press
The Detroit News
Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) reacts during the second quarter of a WNBA game against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday in Uncasville, Conn.

Uncasville, Conn. – The latest on Caitlin Clark's WNBA regular-season debut:

Connecticut 92, Indiana 71

▶ Caitlin Clark struggled early in her WNBA debut before finishing with 20 points and 10 turnovers as the Indiana Fever fell to the Connecticut Sun 92-71 on Tuesday night.

Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with 13 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds, registering the 12th triple-double of her career. DeWanna Bonner added 20 points and DiJonai Carrington had 16. Carrington also was a major reason for Clark's early offensive struggles, hounding the guard.

“Disappointed and nobody likes to lose, that’s how it is,” Clark said. “Can’t beat yourself up too much about one game.”

"Punched us in the mouth"

▶ The NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader, who finished the game 5 for 15 from the field, went scoreless in the first quarter. She missed her first four shots before finally getting on the board midway through the second quarter.

“Caitlin was able to get her some looks, able to knock them down. our spacing was not great,” Indiana coach Christie Sides said. “Connecticut came in and punched us in the mouth tonight. We’ll be in the gym tomorrow watching a lot of video trying to figure out how not to turn the ball over 25 times.”

Not what Clark was looking for

▶ With 10 turnovers, Clark committed the most by an WNBA player in four years, according to Sports Reference.

She’s among only 13 players in the league’s 27-year history with a double-digit turnover game.

Clark shouldn’t take that to heart. WNBA greats Diana Taurasi, Chamique Holdsclaw and Becky Hammon also are on the list.

Down the stretch

▶ Connecticut leads Indiana 65-57 heading into 4th quarter

A Harris jumper to close the third quarter has Connecticut leading Indiana 65-57.

Caitlin Clark has 12 points for Indiana, but is just 3 of 10 from the floor with eight turnovers.

Bonner and Carrington each have 16 points for Connecticut, but Carrington was forced to leave the game late in the third quarter with apparent leg cramps.

Bonner climbs all-time points list

▶ DeWanna Bonner has surpassed Candice Dupree for 5th on the WNBA all-time points list with 6,897 points.

Boston and Clark have a chat on way to locker room

▶ Boston, the No. 1 draft pick in 2023 by the Fever, appeared to give the struggling Clark a pep talk as they walked from the court to the locker room at halftime.

Boston hooked her right arm around Clark’s left as they began walking and pointed and shook her left index finger for emphasis.

Clark appeared to offer a counterpoint to what Boston was saying. Boston patted Clark on the back as the conversation ended, and they slapped hands as they entered the locker room.

Sun lead Fever 49-39 at the break

▶ The Sun had the better of Clark and the Fever in the first half of their WNBA opener, leading 49-39 at the break.

Clark hit her first 3-pointer with 31 seconds left in the half from the left wing, but had just seven points on 2-of-7 shooting from the floor.

Carrington had 14 points to lead the Sun. Smith led Indiana with 11 points.

Clark hits first 3-pointer

▶ Clark made her first career 3-pointer before the half, giving her seven points in the game.

Carrington isn’t letting anything come easy for Clark

▶ DiJonai Carrington has been the primary defender on Clark, and ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said she’s done a good job being physical and forcing her to go right instead of her preferred left.

She stole the ball from Clark’s pocket and made a layup to make it 46-31 late in the first half.

Clark scores first points

▶ Clark scored her first basket with about five minutes and 17 seconds to go in the second quarter.

She made a steal on the other end of the court and dribbled down for a studder-step layup.

She had missed her first four shots. The basket cut the Connecticut lead to 32-23.

End of the first quarter

▶ Clark had an inauspicious start, going 0 for 3 from the floor in the first quarter, missing her only 3-point attempt and committing two fouls in just five minutes.

The Sun led 19-13, behind nine points from former South Carolina star Ty Harris. Nalyssa Smith had seven points for Indiana.

Geno Auriemma in the house

▶ UConn coach Geno Auriemma is among those in attendance at the game.

“This is like a freakin’ Taylor Swift concert,” he said as security led him through the back of the arena and out to his seat.

The Fever Bandwagon Cam

▶ The Sun organization embraced the hundreds of fans showing up for Clark and the Fever, putting up the Fever Bandwagon Cam on the jumbotron, with the caption, “Loyal Fever fan since 2024.”

The cam showed images of fans in Clark T-shirts. “Come on,” said Sun hype man Conor Geary. “That one still has the tag on it.”

Clark arrives for WNBA debut

▶ Clark, dressed in all black, was all smiles as she arrived at the arena about two hours ahead of tipoff.

Wait, did Kate Martin call next?

▶ Sure, Clark’s garnering most of the attention. But it’s former Iowa teammate Kate Martin who sportsbooks believe could get the first championship ring.

Martin and the two-time defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces are +100 favorites to threepeat this season, according to BetMGM Sportsbook.

Martin was drafted 18th overall by the Aces in April.

Betting odds on Clark to win Rookie of the Year

▶ There is almost no betting value on Clark to win Rookie of the Year.

She was -750 at BetMGM Sportsbook last week. Angel Reese was at +3000.

There is, however, money to be made on a Fever championship. The heavy money on the Fever caused them to go from +2500 to win the championship to +1800.

Clark's debut is a sellout

▶ No surprise, Clark’s debut is a sellout

Connecticut sold 8,910 tickets for Tuesday’s game, the first sellout of a season opener for the Sun since the team played its inaugural game at Mohegan Sun Arena in 2003 after moving from Orlando.

The Sun lost that game 82-73 to the Los Angeles Sparks, who were led by Lisa Leslie’s 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Clark’s preseason is over. Now, the real play begins

▶ Clark had 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Fever’s final preseason game last week.

They beat the Atlanta Dream 83-80, with Clark playing 31 minutes.

The Fever had to open the third deck of their home arena to seat all of the fans who came out to watch.

That was after Clark scored 21 in her preseason debut, a 79-76 loss to the Dallas Wings.

The WNBA is soaring to new heights

▶ The WNBA is working behind the scenes to organize charter flights for its teams – and players are pumped.

The league announced last week its athletes will be flying charter this season.

That means no more commercial security lines, bodyguards in public spaces, cramped legroom or layovers for the professional athletes who have been lobbying for better travel long before Clark’s celebrity brought newfound interest to the league.