June 13, 2024

Brighton Journal

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Fever defeated Sky, 71-70 in first WNBA meeting between Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese

Fever defeated Sky, 71-70 in first WNBA meeting between Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese

Angel Reyes and Kaitlyn Clark faced each other for the first time on a WNBA court on Saturday, but it was veteran Kelsey Mitchell who stole the show in the Indiana Fever’s 71-70 win.

The seventh-year guard scored 18 points to lead the Fever. Surprisingly, Mitchell went scoreless in the first quarter but picked it up in the second and fourth frames, becoming more aggressive going to the basket. Nalyssa Smith added 17 points and nine rebounds for the Fever, which won its first home game of the season and second overall.

Chindi Carter led all scorers with 19 points for the Sky on 8-for-12 shooting with six rebounds. The four-year veteran was a dominating presence on the floor, attacking Fever players and aggressively screening them defensively.

Marina Mabrey added 15 points for Chicago, but missed a free throw with 6.1 seconds left that could have tied the score at 71-71. Indiana was able to prevent the Sky from fouling with a pass into the backcourt that allowed the clock to run out.

Clark scored 11 points with eight rebounds, but struggled with her shot after hitting her first two 3-pointers. She also had five turnovers, which continues to be an issue as Clark and her teammates learn each other’s tendencies on the court.

Reese finished with eight points, shooting 2-for-9 from the floor. But she made her presence felt defensively as Clark ran down the lane, most notably with an elbow on her opponent while boxing in a rebound in the fourth quarter.

Saturday’s game was the season debut for Cardoso, the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft out of national champion South Carolina. Playing against former Gamecocks teammate Aliyah Boston, the 6-foot-7 center quickly established herself near the basket, scoring six points on 3-for-3 shooting.

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The Fever had difficulty dealing with Cardoso in the post, but got away with getting the ball passed to her after that great start. NaLyssa Smith scoring lower and stronger defense by Boston likely played a role in that.

Cardoso finished with 11 points and six rebounds, shooting 5-for-7 from the floor, and left no doubt as to whether she could make an impact for the Sky right away.

After Thursday’s loss to the Seattle Storm, Clark told reporters“I feel like I’m being beaten.” Failure to call opponents for fouls contributed in part to Clark’s technical fouls. With three players out for the season, she is now about halfway through the seven technicalities that would impose an automatic one-game suspension under WNBA rules.

The Sky continued the strategy of going hard on Clark, probing her hard as she walked across the aisle and worked for the position. Late in the third quarter, Carter tackled Clark to the ground while waiting for an inbounds pass. She was called for a common foul on the play, but many thought she deserved the flagrant foul 1.

The Fever next hits the road for a Sunday evening matchup with the New York Liberty (6-2). Notification is at 7 p.m. ET. The Sky (3-4) host Liberty on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on NBA TV.