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Caitlin Clark struggles in first home game, as Indiana Fever lose to New York Liberty, 102–66

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A sellout crowd of 17,424 filled Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis to see Caitlin Clark‘s home debut for the Indiana Fever against the New York Liberty, last season’s WNBA Eastern Conference champions.

Unfortunately, Clark struggled in her second WNBA game, scoring only nine points in front of the home crowd (which included Iowa coaches Lisa Bluder and Jan Jensen). She shot 2-for-8 from the field (including 1-for-7 on three-pointers), but added seven rebounds and six assists in a 102–66 loss to the one of the best teams in the league.

Reigning WNBA MVP Breanna Stewart was the player who put on a show, scoring 31 points to lead the Liberty. Stewart completely overmatched Indiana’s frontcourt, shooting 12-for-21 from the field while grabbing 10 rebounds with four assists.

Sabrina Ionescu finished with 14 points for New York with seven rebounds. Jonquel Jones added 14 points, 10 rebounds and four assists, while Betnijah Laney-Hamilton scored 12. The Liberty also got 22 points from their bench, led by Kayla Thornton‘s nine.

New York improved to 2–0 for the season, while Indiana dropped to 0–2.

The home sellout was the Fever’s first since October 2012 when they played in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. The crowd was also the second-best for a home opener in franchise history (behind 18,345 in 2003) and the third-largest attendance for a regular season game (17,704 in 2016).

Unfortunately, Clark didn’t provide the home fans much to cheer about in the first half. She scored only two points on 1-for-5 shooting (and 0–for-4 on three-pointers) and committed three turnovers, while facing tough defense from the Liberty’s Courtney Vandersloot and Ivana Dojkic.

The former Iowa star did add four rebounds and five assists, but struggled to find her shot in an Indiana offense that often appeared uncertain and played her off the ball. Seven of Clark’s nine points came in the third quarter.

Clark also had difficulties on the defensive end, getting into foul trouble which seemed to affect her aggressiveness. She finished with five personal fouls for the night.

Aliyah Boston led the Fever with 12 points and seven rebounds in a tough matchup with Jones. Katie Lou Samuelson added 10.

Clark’s tough home opener followed her WNBA debut on Tuesday versus the Connecticut Sun. Her scoring numbers looked good with 20 points, but she shot 5-for-15 from the field (including 4-for-11 from 3).

Facing strong defense from the Sun’s DiJonai Carrington, the rookie also finished with 10 turnovers – the most in league history by a player in her first game – and just three assists. Pressure from faster, stronger and taller players might be the largest adjustment Clark has had to make thus far.

Clark also dealt with foul trouble in her first game, picking up two quick fouls in the first quarter that led to her sitting down for much of the opening frame.

“Disappointed and nobody likes to lose, that’s how it is,” Clark said to reporters after the game, via the Associated Press. “Can’t beat yourself up too much about one game.”

However, Clark has now faced two tough games to begin her promising WNBA career.

Up next for Clark and the Fever is another matchup with the Liberty, this one in New York on Saturday. Tip-off is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game will be televised on ABC.

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