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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Caitlin Clark debuts for the Fever in a sold-out exhibition game against the Wings in the WNBA

In her WNBA debut, Clark impressed by matching Wings rookie Jaelyn Brown with 21 points. She kicked off the game with a 3-pointer in under a minute

ARLINGTON, Texas — Hours before Caitlin Clark’s WNBA debut with the Indiana Fever in an exhibition match against the Dallas Wings, eager fans adorned in No. 22 University of Iowa jerseys eagerly queued outside the arena, signaling the anticipation pulsing through the sellout crowd.

And Clark did not disappoint.

The two-time NCAA women’s basketball player of the year dazzled the audience, leading all first-half scorers with 16 points in 16 minutes, ultimately tallying a team-high 21 points in the Fever’s narrow 79-76 loss. Clark’s performance showcased her prowess, shooting 6 of 15 from the field, including 5 of 13 from beyond the arc, while contributing three rebounds, two assists, four fouls, and five turnovers.

Her 21-point haul equaled the game-high alongside Dallas rookie Jaelyn Brown.

Clark’s potential game-tying moment slipped away as Dallas’ Arike Ogunbowale sealed the victory with a basket three seconds before the buzzer, leaving Clark’s last-gasp 3-point attempt from the right corner falling short.

Her inaugural professional basket, a remarkable 28-foot 3-pointer early in the game, set the tone for her performance. Throughout the half, she drained four more 3-pointers and converted two of three free throws after being fouled behind the arc.

Although Clark remained scoreless in the third quarter and sat out the final five minutes due to foul trouble, her impact resonated with fans like Christina Edge, who arrived early in hopes of capturing a photo with the basketball sensation on her birthday. Edge’s sentiment echoed among others, including 9-year-old Pailynn Amos, clad in a yellow Clark jersey, dreaming of emulating her idol.

Rebecca Amos, Pailynn’s mother, drove from Ennis to witness Clark’s debut firsthand, drawn by her daughter’s admiration and Clark’s televised dominance during her collegiate career.

Amidst the adulation, Clark’s introduction received a thunderous ovation from the crowd, signaling the fervor surrounding her entry into the professional realm. Yet, even amidst her burgeoning fan base, Clark encountered opposition from Wings supporters, exemplified by vocalized challenges during gameplay.

The exhibition marked the WNBA’s first preseason game, coinciding with the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks hosting the LA Clippers in a pivotal playoff clash nearby.

As Clark embarks on her WNBA journey, the excitement surrounding her transcends individual games. Her impact extends to the broader landscape of women’s basketball, drawing praise from fellow players like Wings center Kalani Brown and Fever center Aliyah Boston, who heralded Clark’s contribution to elevating the sport’s profile.

With the Fever set to return to the College Park Center for regular-season matchups, including a pivotal game preceding the WNBA’s Olympic hiatus, Clark’s presence promises to further invigorate the league’s burgeoning popularity.

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