Sports

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

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

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Clark, Indiana fall to Connecticut 92-71

Clark had 20 points and three assists, but made just five of her 15 shots from the floor as Indiana fell to Connecticut 92-71.

Clark hit four of her 11 shots from beyond the arc and turned the ball over 10 times, for a less-than-desirable double-double.

Bonner had 20 points for Connecticut and became the fifth-leading scorer in WNBA history.

Carrington and Harris each added 16 points for the Sun. Thomas put up her 12th career triple-double with 13 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds.

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Not what Clark was looking for

With 10 turnovers, Clark committed the most by an WNBA player in four years, according to Sports Reference.

She’s among only 13 players in the league’s 27-year history with a double-digit turnover game.

Clark shouldn’t take that to heart. WNBA greats Diana Taurasi, Chamique Holdsclaw and Becky Hammon also are on the list.

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Sun running away with it

A missed 3-pointer from Clark is rebounded by Thomas, giving her a triple-double tonight and bringing the crowd to its feet.

The Sun are leading 81-67 with 3 1/2 minutes left. Thomas has 13 points, 13 assists and 10 boards.

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Connecticut leads Indiana 65-57 heading into 4th quarter

A Harris jumper to close the third quarter has Connecticut leading Indiana 65-57.

Caitlin Clark has 12 points for Indiana, but is just 3 of 10 from the floor with eight turnovers.

Bonner and Carrington each have 16 points for Connecticut, but Carrington was forced to leave the game late in the third quarter with apparent leg cramps.

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Bonner climbs all-time points list

DeWanna Bonner has surpassed Candice Dupree for 5th on the WNBA all-time points list with 6,897 points.

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Boston and Clark have a chat on way to locker room

Boston, the No. 1 draft pick in 2023 by the Fever, appeared to give the struggling Clark a pep talk as they walked from the court to the locker room at halftime.

Boston hooked her right arm around Clark’s left as they began walking and pointed and shook her left index finger for emphasis.

Clark appeared to offer a counterpoint to what Boston was saying. Boston patted Clark on the back as the conversation ended, and they slapped hands as they entered the locker room.

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Sun lead Fever 49-39 at the break

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 hits first 3-pointer

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

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Carrington isn’t letting anything come easy for Clark

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 scores first points

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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End of the first quarter

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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Geno Auriemma in the house

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 Fever Bandwagon Cam

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 arrives for WNBA debut

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

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Wait, did Kate Martin call next?

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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Betting odds on Clark to win Rookie of the Year

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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Sun planning ‘super aggressive’ defense vs Clark

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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No surprise, Clark’s debut is a sellout

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’s preseason is over. Now, the real play begins

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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With Paris roster still TBD, US women’s basketball watching Clark closely

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 soaring to new heights

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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