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Caitlin Clark struggles in WNBA debut as Connecticut Solar dominate Indiana Fever

Smothering defense by the Connecticut Sun torpedoed the much-anticipated pro basketball debut of Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark. Clark, the two-time national college player of the year, struggled for much of her first WNBA regular-season game as Clark labored for each of her 20 points in Connecticut’s convincing 92-71 victory. “There’s a lot to learn

Caitlin Clark struggles in WNBA debut as Connecticut Solar dominate Indiana Fever

Smothering protection by the Connecticut Solar torpedoed the much-anticipated professional basketball debut of Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark.

Clark, the two-time national college player of the year, struggled for a lot of her first WNBA regular-season sport as Clark labored for every of her 20 factors in Connecticut’s convincing 92-71 victory.

“There’s so much to be taught from; it is the primary one,” Clark instructed reporters after the sport. “There’s going to be good ones, there’s going to be dangerous ones.”

In the Sun’s first home-opener sellout since 2003, followers at Mohegan Solar Enviornment in Uncasville divided their allegiance by cheering for each the hometown crew and Clark within the most celebrated pro introduction in women’s basketball historical past.

The constructing roared when Clark drilled every of her 4 3-pointers, however highlights have been laborious to return by. Connecticut pressured her right into a game-high 10 turnovers, amongst 25 Fever giveaways, and stored her to only a trio of assists.

“Clearly too many turnovers — that’s not going to get the job performed,” Clark mentioned. “There’s loads of issues to be taught from.”

She added: “I might have favored to have performed a bit higher tonight.”

She picked up a pair contact fouls within the first quarter, resulting in an early break on the bench. And when she was on the ground, Connecticut’s DiJonai Carrington and her teammates gave Clark, the 2024 No. 1 draft pick, little room to function.

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Clark did not rating her first factors till there was 5:24 left within the second quarter. She obtained a bit extra offensive footing within the second half, scoring 13 factors after intermission.

However turnovers have been nonetheless a difficulty, with 5 giveaways in every half.

“I believed it took me a short while to settle into the sport,” Clark mentioned. “I believed the second half was so much higher minus a number of the turnovers.”

Fever coach Christie Sides mentioned Clark wasn’t guilty for all 10 turnovers.

“We have got to assist her out. We have got to do a greater job of coming again to the ball,” Sides mentioned.

Carrington insisted Tuesday’s defensive lockdown of Clark was simply one other day on the workplace, irrespective of the nationwide highlight that shined on Mohegan Solar Enviornment.

“That is what they count on from me each night time, whether or not it is Caitlin or whoever we’re taking part in,” she mentioned. “That is the expectation. That is the usual.”

Sides mentioned she’s assured Clark will be capable of regulate to the peak and velocity of elite defenders like Carrington.

The Solar “had a sport plan in opposition to her, and it is simply going to take a while for her to determine that velocity and quickness and physicality out,” Sides mentioned. “We attempt to rep it and mimic that at our practices with our observe guys as a lot as we might. But it surely’s simply not the identical.”

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Carrington’s robust sport was marred solely by leg cramps that despatched her to the locker room for a part of the second half.

“I obtained to hydrate higher, in order that’s on me — much less espresso,” she mentioned, laughing.

In the meantime, Connecticut veteran DeWanna Bonner scored 20 factors and climbed to No. 5 on the WNBA’s all-time scoring listing.

Indiana is pinning its hopes on Clark because it seeks to enhance on a conference-worst 13-27 report final season.

The Fever’s residence opener is about for Thursday in opposition to final 12 months’s WNBA runner-up, the New York Liberty, at 7 p.m. ET at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

That sport will likely be streamed on Amazon Prime and aired regionally on NBC affiliate WTHR in Indianapolis and WWOR in and round New York Metropolis.

David K. Li

David Okay. Li is a senior breaking information reporter for NBC Information Digital.

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