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HomesportKaitlyn Clark shines in her WNBA preseason debut as Indiana Fever fall...

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

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The Caitlin Clark era is off to a rocky start.

In front of a sell-out crowd in Dallas in her first WNBA game, though she was an impactful preseason, Clarke was just as impactful as she has been over the past four years at Iowa (perhaps in part because of all the familiar Big Ten foes in stadium). Although the Indiana Fever lost to the Dallas Wings 79-76, in which Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale made the go-ahead 3-pointer with three seconds to play, Clark finished with a team-high 21 points and made five 3-pointers.

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

Clark started alongside Erica Wheeler, allowing the former Iowa State star to play both on and off the ball. On her first possession as the de facto point guard, she delivered a perfectly executed pass to forward NaLyssa Smith down the court. After Smith’s attempt at the rim was blocked, Clark went into shooting mode, hitting a deep inside 3-pointer for her first professional points.

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

Clark didn’t venture much to the rim early, but her shooting was WNBA-ready, including one mid-range shot near the end of the second quarter. In the first half, Clark scored 16 points, leading both teams.

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However, there was a lot that could be improved upon Friday night’s performance. Clark finished with a game-high five turnovers and was whistled for four fouls. She said afterward that Fever could have come into her attack better and there is room to understand more about when to move forward in transition and when to slow down the pace of the game. She also said the team’s passing could have been better.

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

“This is a process, right? We just started practicing on Sunday,” Fever coach Christy Sides said. “We’re still learning each other. You worked so hard to get some shots that you don’t have to work hard for them anymore.

Aliyah Boston, last year’s Rookie of the Year, 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 boards. Fellow rookie Celeste Taylor finished the game with five rebounds in 11 minutes.

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

Jesse 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 pre-season game will be scheduled for Friday, May 10.

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Reese finished one rebound shy of a double-double in his debut

Former LSU star Angel Reese also made her preseason debut on Friday night, as the Chicago Sky took on the Minnesota Lynx. Reese started the contest, making a layup attempt by Minnesota forward Naphesa Collier just three minutes into the game. Although Reese did not score in the first quarter, she settled down during the second quarter, scoring a goal and also showing offensive chemistry with center Camila Cardoso.

With 3:49 to play before halftime, Reyes found Cardoso cutting to the basket for a layup, a hoop that Chicago forward Brianna Turner said looked 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 Alyssa Bailey made her preseason debut for the Lynx, but struggled offensively, making just one of her seven shot attempts in 13 minutes of action.

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(Photo: Cooper Neal/NBAE via Getty Images)

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