Fever miffed over 'unacceptable' foul on Clark

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INDIANAPOLIS — No. 1 WNBA draft pick Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever secured their first home win and second of the season with a 71-70 victory over the Chicago Sky and fellow rookie star Angel Reese on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

After harping on defense amid early-season struggles, Indiana (2-8) put together its best effort on that end of the floor, overcoming shooting woes (39.1% from the field) as it held Chicago to a 40.6% clip and just 2-for-12 from the 3-point arc.

“We were connected defensively more than we’ve been all year,” Indiana coach Christie Sides said.

Reserve Chennedy Carter had a game-high 19 points for the Sky, but also drew attention with a play toward the end of the third quarter when she shoulder checked Clark before the basketball was inbounded. The call was not reviewed and was deemed a common foul.

When asked about the play afterward, Carter said “next question” and declined to address the foul.

“It is what it is,” Clark said. “I feel like I’m just at the point where you accept it and don’t retaliate. … I’m trying not to let it bother me.”

Sides said the Fever have been sending plays where Clark has been “getting hammered” to the league for review. She said the team will probably do so again after Carter’s foul.

Later Saturday, in addressing the league in a post on X, Sides called Carter’s foul on Clark “unacceptable” and wrote, “When will the consistent complaints be heard?!? Something has to be done!”

In her postgame interview Saturday, Sides lauded Clark for keeping her composure through all the physical play this season.

“We’re just going to keep sending these possessions to the league, and these plays, and hopefully they’ll start, you know, taking a better look at some of the things that we see happening, or we think is happening,” Sides said. “Just more happy that Caitlin handled it the way she did. You know, it’s tough to keep getting hammered the way she does and to not get rewarded with free throws or foul calls. She’s continued to fight through that. Appreciate that from her. Really, really proud of her for doing that.”

Saturday’s contest served as both teams’ first game in the Commissioner’s Cup, the WNBA’s in-season tournament.

The Fever led the majority of the contest, pulling ahead by as many as nine with 3:36 to play before the Sky used a late run to make it a one-point game with 1:35 left. Aliyah Boston’s clutch and-1 with 1:19 was the difference. Chicago’s Marina Mabrey missed a critical free throw with 6.1 seconds remaining.

“I’m proud of our group,” said Clark, who finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. “I thought earlier in the season, to this point, if we would have shot like this, we wouldn’t have won the game because we didn’t have that resiliency and we would let it affect the defensive end for us. So just proud of us. We were really gritty on defense. Even when they were making runs, we always found a way to respond.”

Clark became the first WNBA rookie to record 150 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists in a 10-game span.

Kamilla Cardoso, the Sky’s pick at No. 3, returned from a preseason shoulder injury to make her WNBA debut, scoring 11 points and corralling six rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

Two months ago, Clark and Cardoso faced off in the national title game, which Cardoso’s South Carolina squad won. Cardoso is a former college teammate of the Fever’s Boston (who finished with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks) and played alongside former SEC foe Reese for the first time since they were drafted by Chicago in April. Clark and Reese’s battles when they were at Iowa and LSU, respectively, garnered national headlines and record ratings and helped spur an uptick in interest and growth of women’s basketball.

Saturday’s contest was the Fever’s 10th in 19 days, and they will travel to play New York on Sunday night. Their 11 games in 20 days is the most in a span since the 2011 Washington Mystics weathered a similar schedule. After New York, Indiana is off until Friday.

“Anytime you win, that makes everything a lot better,” Sides said. “These guys, they’re clawing and they’re fighting. And that’s all I can ask them to do. They did that ’til the end tonight, and they’ll do it again tomorrow regardless of the competition.”

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