Caitlin Clark shines in WNBA preseason debut as Indiana Fever fall to Dallas Wings

The Caitlin Clark era got off to a rocky start.

In front of a sold-out crowd in Dallas for her first WNBA game, even though it was preseason action, Clark made as much of an impact as she has in the past four years in the Iowa (perhaps in part because of all the familiar Big Ten foes on the field). ). Although the Indiana Fever lost to the Dallas Wings 79-76, with Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale scoring a go-ahead 3-pointer with three seconds left, Clark finished with a team-high 21 points and scored five 3-pointers.

“I thought we played really hard. It’s just a good atmosphere for women’s basketball,” Clark said after the game on the Bally Sports broadcast. “I think it’s a good kickoff to the WNBA season.”

Clark started alongside Erica Wheeler, which allowed the former Iowa star to play both with and without the ball. On her first possession as the de facto point guard, she delivered a perfect pass to advance NaLyssa Smith the length of the court. After Smith’s attempt at the rim was blocked, Clark went into shooting guard mode, hitting a deep 3-pointer in bounds for her first professional points.

The triples continued to come in the first half. Clark matched the Wings’ total with four 3-pointers before intermission, including one that required some dazzling footwork against former Defensive Player of the Year Natasha Howard. Howard turned to Clark on the perimeter, and the No. 1 pick created just enough space with a hesitant dribble then a step-back to his left to drain the jumper.

Clark didn’t venture to the rim much early, but her shooting was WNBA-ready, including a mid-range shot late in the second quarter. In the first half, Clark had 16 points, leading both teams.

There was, however, much room for improvement from Friday night’s performance. Clark finished with a game-high five turnovers and was whistled for four fouls. She said that afterward, Fever could have tackled its offense better and that it was possible to better understand when to push in transition and when to slow down the pace of the game. She also said that the team’s passes team could have been better.

“Overall, there’s a lot to learn,” Clark said. “These are good learning experiences for us. It doesn’t count. Go back and watch the movie, the movie doesn’t lie and learn from it.

“It’s a process, isn’t it? We just started practicing on Sunday,” Fever coach Christie Sides said. “We continue to learn from each other. She worked really hard to get shots that she doesn’t have to work so hard for anymore.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year Aliyah Boston finished with eight points and eight rebounds in her preseason debut, while Smith, the No. 2 pick in the 2022 WNBA Draft, finished with 20 points and six rebounds. Fever rookie Celeste Taylor finished with five rebounds in 11 minutes.

Ogunbowale’s 3-pointer was her only made triple of the game, although she finished with 19 points. Rookie guard Jaelyn Brown led the Wings with 21 points.

Jacy Sheldon, the No. 5 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, played 13 minutes off the Wings bench and recorded two assists.

The Fever’s second and final preseason game will take place on Friday, May 10.

Reese finishes rebound before double-double in debut

Former LSU star Angel Reese also made his preseason debut Friday night, as the Chicago Sky took on the Minnesota Lynx. Reese started the contest and saw a layup attempt blocked by Minnesota star forward Napheesa Collier just three minutes into the game. Although Reese didn’t score in the first quarter, she settled in during the second quarter, both getting on the scoresheet and also showing offensive chemistry with center Kamilla Cardoso.

With 3:49 left before halftime, Reese found Cardoso driving to the basket for a layup, a hoop that Chicago forward Brianna Turner said looked even better in person.

Chicago lost 92-81, but Reese finished with 13 points and was aggressive around the rim. She attempted 10 free throws and made nine. She also added a game-high nine rebounds. Cardoso, the No. 3 pick in last April’s draft, came off Chicago’s bench and finished with six points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of action.

Former Utah star Alissa Pili made her preseason debut for the Lynx, but struggled on the offensive end, making just one of her seven shot attempts in 13 minutes of action.

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(Photos: Cooper Neill/NBAE via Getty Images)

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