The Latest: Caitlin Clark makes her WNBA regular-season debut for the Indiana Fever


UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The latest on Caitlin Clark’s WNBA regular-season debut (all times local):

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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

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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.

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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.

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Connecticut players say they have a plan to limit Clark in her WNBA debut.

DiJonai Carrington is expected to draw the primary defensive assignment and says the idea is to be physical and make Clark work hard for every point she gets and stay on her for 94 feet.

“The first shot that she gets can’t be a wide open 3, you know what I mean?” Carrington said. “It has to be tough. And then eventually she might get one. But it’s going to be after she sees three or four that don’t go down. You know what I mean? So if you make your first few shots, the basket gets really big for you. So we definitely have to come out being super aggressive in getting her off her spots.”

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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.

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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.

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Caitlin Clark’s hopes of playing in the Paris Games will depend on her early play in the WNBA.

The U.S. women’s roster for the Olympics in July won’t be determined before June 1. Unable to attend the U.S. training camp last month, Clark will have the start of her WNBA career to show the U.S. women’s basketball selection committee whether she deserves a spot on the team. Selection committee chair Jennifer Rizzotti said she’ll be watching.

“You always want to introduce new players into the pool whether it’s for now or the future,” Rizzotti told The Associated Press. “We stick to our principles of talent, obviously, positional fit, loyalty and experience. It’s got to be a combination of an entire body of work. It’s still not going to be fair to some people.”

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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.

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



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