Caitlin Clark and Indiana Fever edge Angel Reese and Chicago Sky for first home win, 71-70 – Metro US

Caitlin Clark and Indiana Fever edge Angel Reese and Chicago Sky for first home win, 71-70

Sky Fever Basketball
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 tossed the ball high into the air as time expired Saturday. Veteran guard Kelsey Mitchell just started clapping.

Finally, after four consecutive home losses, the Fever were celebrating.

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

“It was great, and I think it came at a really great time,” Clark said after winning the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup game. “Our fans were awesome. They were energized. You know we really didn’t shoot the ball well at all collectively as a team and you know sometimes that’s hard for the fans, like that’s what they come to see. But I think they really appreciated our great defense tonight.”

Clark had 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 toss.

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) snapped a three-game losing streak.

This contest was about much more than scores or stats, though.

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 on two of the women who prevented her from winning an NCAA championship even as she took a shoulder shot from Chennedy Carter before an inbound pass during the third quarter. The refs called it an away-from-the-ball foul.

Carter said she wouldn’t take any questions about Clark.

“I wasn’t expecting it,” Clark said initially. “It is what it is. It’s a physical game. Go make the free throw and execute on offense, and I feel like that’s kind of what we did.”

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

Reese did not take questions from reporters following the game.

Before the game, Fever coach Christie Sides attempted to play up the rivalry between the two Midwestern teams, but the loud pregame ovation for Clark and a smattering of 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 latest round against Clark while Cardoso played for the first time since injuring her right shoulder in a preseason game 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 left, which proved 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, closing 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 making an impact. She had six points and four rebounds during a six-minute stint in which the Sky erased a 22-16 deficit, took the lead and sustained the momentum to complete a 15-4 spurt after Cardoso departed midway through the second quarter.

Clark helped ignite Indiana’s response, a 9-0 run just before halftime, to give the Fever a 35-31 lead.

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

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


Sky: Get a short break before hosting the New York Liberty on Tuesday.

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

This story has been corrected to show that NaLyssa Smith had 17 points, not 18, for the Fever and that Marina Mabrey, not Dana Evans, missed a free throw with 6.6 seconds remaining.

AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball