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WNBA’s best Sun dismantle Fever, as Caitlin Clark, 3 more starters benched in blowout loss

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  • Caitlin Clark scored 10 points and was a team-worst -30 in +/- rating.
  • Aliyah Boston led Indiana with 14 points and 12 rebounds.

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The Indiana Fever suffered a blowout loss at the hands of the Connecticut Sun on Monday night, falling 89-72 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

The Fever drop to 3-10 on the season, while the Sun improve to 10-1 — the best record in the league.

Here are three observations:

Defending without fouling

Fever coach Christie Sides emphasized pregame her team needs to defend without fouling — the Sun shot shot 30 free throws in their 88-84 win in Indiana earlier this season, and that ended up deciding the game.

“Defending without fouling, I mean, we put them on the line 30 times at home in that game, so we could just cut that in half,” Sides said.

But Connecticut is the best team in the league right now, and it knows how to draw fouls. They drew 10 fouls in the first half, shooting 13 free throws. Guard DiJonai Carrington alone got to the line seven times in the first half, making six. As a team, the Fever only had six total free throw attempts in the first half.

Connecticut’s prowess in drawing fouls also led to foul trouble for the Fever. Caitlin Clark drew her fourth foul of the game at the 6-minute mark of the third quarter, and she ended up sitting for the rest of the third.

Aliyah Boston only starter on court to open the fourth

Sides isn’t afraid to leave players on the bench if she’s unhappy with their defensive effort. She did it in the the Fever’s first win of the season against the Sparks in Los Angeles, when NaLyssa Smith sat for most of the second half in favor of Temi Fagbenle.

On Monday night, she nearly emptied her bench looking for a spark in the third quarter. Clark, along with Smith, Kristy Wallace and Kelsey Mitchell sat on the bench for most of the fourth quarter, leaving Aliyah Boston as the only starter playing with Grace Berger, Erica Wheeler, Katie Lou Samuelson and Lexie Hull.

When the four starters went to the bench around the 5-minute mark of the third, the Sun had a 65-39 lead. The backup-heavy lineup scored 17 points in those last five minutes of the third, while holding the Sun to 15.

It’s not unusual for Sides to give her starters some rest in the third; it became a point of contention when that same backup-heavy lineup started the fourth quarter, as well. Those four starters didn’t see the floor for the rest of the game; Clark had a career-low in minutes with 22, while Mitchell played 20, Smith played 19 and Wallace 17.

Chants of “We want Caitlin!” started ringing out in the crowd at the 3-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but she did not return and had a team-worst +/- rating of -30.

Grace Berger leaves game with injury

Seldom-used Berger was one of the players to start the fourth quarter, and she was one of those players that helped to provide a spark late in the game.

Her time on the court ended, though, with around five minutes left in the game. She seemed to have twisted her right ankle while defending a shot, and the Fever had to take a timeout to avoid a delay of game call. Berger limped off the floor under her own power, and returned to the bench before the game ended.

Berger ended as a +8 in her 10 minutes on the court and went 1-of-2 from the floor for three points with one rebound and one assist.

How many points did Caitlin Clark score today?

Clark scored 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting (2-for-5 from 3).

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