Caitlin Clark, Fever edge Angel Reese, Sky for first home win

INDIANAPOLIS – NaLyssa Smith scored 18 points and Caitlin Clark had 11 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists Saturday as the Indiana Fever earned their first home win of the season, 71-70 over the Chicago Sky.

Indiana (2-8) ended a three-game losing streak and improved to 1-4 at home on Pride Day and in the inaugural Commissioners Cup game. The Fever closed out the game with Erica Wheeler running the final 6.6 seconds before passing to Clark, who threw the ball high in the air.

Clark turned the tables on two of her college rivals: former LSU star Angel Reese and former South Carolina star Kamilla Cardoso, who each beat Clark’s Iowa Hawkeyes in the team’s last two national championship games. Division I.

Chennedy Carter had 19 points and six assists to lead the Sky (3-4). Marina Mabrey finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. Reese finished with eight points and 13 rebounds, and Cardoso had 11 points and six rebounds in his professional regular-season debut.

Dana Evans had a chance to force overtime, but missed the first of two free throws with 6.6 seconds left. Chicago never got the ball back.

But this competition went well beyond scores, statistics or tournament results during the season.

It featured three of the top seven picks from April’s draft — three players from a generational draft class, each capable of becoming the new face of the WNBA. It also capped a week in which Fever fans had the pleasure of seeing this year’s top four draft picks and five of the top seven up close at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

But these are the rematches involving Clark, two-time NCAA Player of the Year and two-time Division I national runner-up, against Cardoso, two-time national champion with South Carolina, and especially Reese, 2023 national champion with LSU , which captivated the crowd. Cardoso hadn’t played since injuring her right shoulder in a preseason game on May 3.

Although Fever coach Christie Sides tried to play up the rivalry between the two Midwest teams, the loud pregame ovation for Clark and a handful of boos that were quickly drowned out by cheers from Reese’s pre-match presentations characterized the confrontation.

Cardoso came on for the first time midway through the first quarter and made an immediate impact. She had six points and four rebounds during a six-minute stint in which Sky erased a 22-16 deficit, took the lead and maintained momentum to complete a 15-4 spurt after the Cardoso’s departure midway through the second quarter.

Clark helped spark Indiana’s response, a 9-0 run just before halftime, to give the Fever a 35-31 lead.

Chicago fought back to tie the score at 37 early in the second half, but Indiana responded with six straight points and closed the third quarter with a 54-49 lead. The Sky rallied again late after falling into a 68-58 deficit, but could not fully come back.

The Sky enjoys a short break before hosting the New York Liberty on Tuesday.

The Fever visit Liberty for the second time this season on Sunday.

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