Caitlin Clark, Fever move past tough opener, host Liberty

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Caitlin Clark will look to put her less-than-spectacular WNBA debut in her rearview mirror on Thursday night when the Indiana Fever host the New York Liberty in Indianapolis.

Sure, Clark scored a team-high 20 points in the Fever’s 92-71 setback to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday. However, the top overall pick of the 2024 WNBA Draft and the NCAA’s all-time Division I scoring leader also committed 10 turnovers and four fouls to prevent Indiana (0-1) from sustaining any sense of a rhythm in its loss in Connecticut.

Alas, Clark put the setback in perspective shortly after the final whistle.

“I’m disappointed, and nobody likes to lose, but I don’t think you can beat yourself up too much about one game,” she said. “I don’t think that’s going to help this team.

“Just learn from it and move on.”

Clark made just 5 of 15 shots from the floor — including 4 of 11 from 3-point range.

“She’s a rookie,” Indiana coach Christie Sides said. “This is the best league in the world. We’ve got to teach her. We’ve got to teach her what these games are going to look like for her every single night. And we’ve got to eliminate some of that pressure for her, and that’s on me.”

NaLyssa Smith collected 13 points and nine rebounds for the Fever.

The Liberty (1-0) won their season opener on Tuesday by escaping the nation’s capital with an 85-80 victory over the Washington Mystics. That said, New York coach Sandy Bordello took issue with her team’s generosity, as the Liberty committed 20 turnovers that led to 19 points by Washington.

“We mixed up defense in the fourth quarter, which kind of helped us get the victory today and I think that’s the versatility of this team,” Bordello said. “But yeah, turnovers, that’s way too many and gave them too many offensive rebounds (10).”

Jonquel Jones scored 25 points and Betnijah Laney-Hamilton added 20 for the Liberty.

Sabrina Ionescu recorded 15 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and two blocks to offset a tough night for reigning WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart, who scored just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting.

Stewart erupted for 45 points and 12 rebounds in New York’s 90-73 victory over Indiana on May 21 of last season. She added 42 points in a 100-89 win on Aug. 13 to help the Liberty complete a four-game season sweep of the Fever.

–Field Level Media

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