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Caitlin Clark’s home debut: Star rookie struggles in loss to New York Liberty

Caitlin Clark continued to take some rookie chunks in just the second game of her WNBA career in a 102-66 Indiana Fever loss to the New York Liberty. The No. 1 pick in the 2024 Draft was held to 9 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in the first game of the regular season in front of her home crowd on 2-of-8 shooting from the floor.

The task was big: playing against a Liberty team led by reigning WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart, who scored 31 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in the win.

Clark and the Fever will have to regroup quickly, with their next match being the back half of a home-and-home with the Liberty in Brooklyn on Saturday night.

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  • Subs are here as New York, which returned all five starters from its second-place finish in the finals, picks up a win to move to 2-0. Clark ends her night with nine points (2-8/1-7/4-4), seven rebounds, six assists, three turnovers, one block and five fouls. It is her first game in which she has scored fewer than 20 points since the 2022-2023 season at Iowa. But she impacted the game in other ways and there were glimpses of potential for the whole team. These two meet again on Saturday and we’ll see what Sides and crew do leading up to the rematch. There wasn’t much time to work on adjustments, which Sides said was one of her biggest frustrations after the loss to the Sun. Fever drops to 0-2.

  • 4Q: New York 67, Indiana 56

    Caitlin Clark came back in to loud cheers, grabbed a rebound and hit her first home 3-pointer a few minutes later. The defense got some stops and suddenly it’s an 11-point game. Clark settled on the final possession and made another nice pass to Smith, but it’s a little late on the clock. Clark is approaching a triple-double with nine points, seven rebounds and six assists. THAT is the kind of line that will make a difference in the game’s outcome, as we see here over three quarters. It may not mean a win against the Liberty, but ultimately the Fever will be playing against teams not at the top of the table. She is only 2-6 (1-5 of 3).

  • Caitlin Clark does Caitlin Clark things to try to pull the Fever from a big second half deficit against the Liberty.

  • Caitlin Clark’s college coaches are home for her first home game in Indiana

  • Caitlin Clark makes her fourth foul (another on Stewart) 29 seconds into the second half. She gets six in the W and Sides leaves her there with Wheeler, Smith, Boston and Samuelson. AKA, today’s starters.

  • Six seconds left, Stewart was shooting free throws and Betnijah Laney-Hamilton was STILL over Clark on his way to the other end of the court. Some good feeds from Clark to Boston to end the quarter, but the Fever trail, 48-31. Stewart has 20 points for New York. Fever’s defenses can’t stop her.

  • Fever takes a timeout with 3:37 until halftime. Indiana head coach Christie Sides gave some starters long breaks on the bench. Boston re-entered at 5:55 am. Samuelson at 4:24. Mitchell also came back in. And Clark is back on the field after the timeout. She left at 7:55 am.

  • 1Q: New York 25, Indiana 16

    It was a frustrating quarter from a game flow standpoint, but a much better quarter for Indiana and Clark than the season opener. They look more settled together. Clark is 1-of-4 for two points and three turnovers, but she also has three assists and three rebounds. At the professional level, scoring a lot of points won’t lead to wins as easily as at the college level (although Iowa often lost when scoring > 40). Her ability to impact the game in other ways is crucial.

    Stewart is 5-11 for 11 points for New York. Sabrina Ionescu has nine. Katie Lou Samuelson has eight points for Indiana.

  • OH?! A few words between Jonquel Jones and Aliyah Boston, and it looks like a few more players got involved in the confrontation. Jones called for a foul on Boston and it is being reviewed for a hostile act. These two teams play each other again on Saturday in Brooklyn (1:00 PM ET tip-off, so a very quick turnaround).

  • That little scoop pass to Katie Lou Samuelson is exactly what Clark is good at and something Samuelson may not be ready for because they haven’t played together much yet. That will clear up as the season progresses.

  • Greetings from Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, where Clark is minutes away from his first home induction. Even with fans filling in here, it’s a stronger performance than last season. Their 2023 average was 4.056 and the high was 7.356 against the Connecticut Sun in Aliyah Boston’s home debut.

  • In the pregame presser before her first regular-season home game, Caitlin Clark spoke about her awareness of the fans who spend big money to come see her and the sense of responsibility she has taken on since her days at Iowa as the greatest star on the field.

  • Caitlin Clark looks on, Indianapolis

  • The scene in Indianapolis

  • How Caitlin Clark’s debut is stacking up

  • WNBA says all teams will fly to games on charter by May 21, after rough schedule rollout

    The WNBA’s rollout of their new charter flight program has not gone as smoothly as it could have, but the situation will be rectified within the week.

    After some teams had to take commercial flights for their first few games, a WNBA spokesperson told The Athletic on Thursday All teams will fly with a charter for their away games from May 21. The only exceptions are the Chicago Sky/Indiana Fever and Connecticut Sun/New York Liberty games. Due to the proximity, these are bus rides.

    Read the full story here.

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