Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever held off Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky for their first home win, 71-70.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Fever rookie Kaitlin Clark tossed the ball into the air as time expired Saturday. Senior guard Kelsey Mitchell started clapping.

Finally, after four straight home losses, the Fever celebrated.

The latest matchup between college rivals Clark and Angel Reese came a day before former South Carolina star Camila Cardoso made her regular-season pro debut in front of another sellout crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. Clark finished with 11 points. Had eight rebounds and six assists in a 71-70 win over the Chicago Sky on Pride Day.

“It was really good and I think it came at a great time,” Clark said after winning the inaugural Commissioner’s Cup game. “Our fans were fantastic. They were energized. You know we didn’t shoot the ball well as a team, and you know sometimes it’s tough for the fans, that’s what they come to watch. But I think they really appreciated our great defense tonight.

Clarke got plenty of help from her teammates before Dana Evans missed the first of two free throws for the Sky with 6.6 seconds left before Clarke tossed the ball.

Mitchell scored 18 points. Nalisa Smith had 17 points and nine rebounds, while Christy Wallace and Aaliyah Boston scored 10 each. Boston, Cardoso’s former teammate at South Carolina, grabbed eight rebounds as the Fever (2-8) snapped a three-game losing streak.

This competition was about more than scores or statistics.

It featured three of the first seven picks in this year’s draft — three players in a generational rookie class that could all become the new faces of the WNBA — and in one week fever fans were treated to each of the first four draft picks. Five of the first seven.

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This time, Clarke got the upper hand on two women who prevented her from winning the NCAA Championship. Even when she took a shoulder shot from Sennady Carter before an inbound pass during the third quarter. The refs called it a foul off the ball.

Carter said he wouldn’t ask any questions about Clark.

“I didn’t expect that,” Clarke said at the beginning. “It is what it is. It’s a physical game. Make the free throw, execute the offense, and I feel like we did.

However, the rematches between Clark, a two-time NCAA player of the year and two-time Division I national runner-up, against Cardoso, who won his second title with the Gamecocks in March, and Reese, who led LSU in particular. 2023 national title, impresses the crowd.

Reese did not take questions from reporters following the game.

Before the game, Fever coach Christy Sides tried to play up the rivalry between the two Midwestern teams, but a loud pregame ovation for Clark and the noise of the posse, quickly drowned out by Reese’s enthusiasm during pregame introductions, characterized the clash.

Reese finished with eight points and 13 rebounds in his latest outing against Clark Cardoso played for the first time He injured his right shoulder in a preseason game on May 3. Cardozo had 11 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes, but was called for a foul that led to Boston’s three-point play with 1:19 left that proved to be the difference.

“The first game back, she played really well, too,” said Carter, who led the Sky (3-4) with 19 points and six assists. “She’s not in this position, finishing the game, so let’s give her some time.”

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Marina Mabrey finished with 15 points and nine rebounds for Chicago.

Cardoso wasted no time entering for the first time midway through the first quarter and making an impact. He had six points and four rebounds in a six-minute span in which the Sky erased a 22-16 deficit, took the lead and kept the momentum going to complete a 15-4 spurt after Cardoso exited midway through the second quarter.

Clark helped spark Indiana’s response, going on a 9-0 run just before halftime to give the Fever a 35-31 lead.

Chicago pulled back to tie the score at 37 early in the second half, but Indiana responded with six straight points to take a 54-49 lead into the third quarter. The Sky rallied late after falling into a 68-58 deficit and closed the game on a 12-3 run — but couldn’t come all the way back.

“If we had shot like this earlier in the season, we wouldn’t have won the game because we didn’t have that flexibility and let it affect our defensive play,” Clark said. “Proud of ourselves, I thought we were pretty badass.”

next

Sky: Get some rest before hosting the New York Liberty on Tuesday.

Fever: Visit New York for the second time this season on Sunday.

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This story has been corrected to show that Nalisa Smith scored 17, not 18, for the flu.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball

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