The Sun Denied Caitlin Clark And The Fever Their First Win Of The Year In A Thriller

The Indiana Fever are the most talked about team in the WNBA coming into the 2024 season, as Caitlin Clark joined Aliyah Boston in Indianapolis to give the Fever a pair of top overall picks and a ton of hype. However, they have two top overall picks for a reason, as there’s still work to do to reach the level of the top teams in the league.

Clark and the Fever were learning lessons in real time to start the year, facing a gauntlet of top teams out of the gate, but after a pair of blowout losses to open the year, they showed some signs of improvement in New York over the weekend. They looked to build on that on Monday night in their second game of the young season with the Connecticut Sun, this time at home in a raucous Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

The star rookie hit a pair of threes in the first quarter, appearing in a better rhythm early than her home debut, and as a team the Fever were much more competitive.

In the mid-second quarter, Clark had a scare when she suffered an ankle injury that left her in considerable pain and sent her to the locker room.

She would return for the start of the second half after the Fever went on a run to take a 44-41 lead in her absence, with Kelsey Mitchell leading the way on the run.

The two teams would go back-and-forth in the second half, with the stars shining on both sides. Alyssa Thomas and DeWanna Bonner combined for 46 points for the Sun, while Clark and Mitchell led the Fever with 17 each.

The highlight sequence of the game for the Fever came in the early fourth, when Boston got a block and Clark hit a logo three in transition for her first real signature moment as a pro.

However, the learning curve was still apparent down the stretch, as turnovers and fouls remain an early issue for Clark to clean up. After getting ripped by Thomas at midcourt, Clark picked up a transition take foul and then a technical, as her temper led her to say a magic word to the official as she walked by.

The two teams continued trading buckets down the stretch, with Ty Harris (16 points) getting hot for the Sun, but Clark finding answers on the other end as a scorer and facilitator.

Trailing by two late, the growing chemistry between Indiana’s top picks continued to shine, as Clark hit Boston on the short roll for a game-tying push shot in the lane.

After the Sun hit two free throws on the other end, the Fever put the ball in Boston’s hands, who faked a handoff with Clark and got to the rim, but couldn’t finish to tie the game again, as the Sun got an 88-84 win after Thomas iced the game at the free throw line.

The Sun remained a perfect 3-0 on the young season (with two wins over the Fever) with the W, as Thomas and Bonner continue to be fantastic and Harris provided a massive lift down the stretch with her perimeter scoring punch. The only real concern for Connecticut in the game was their bench struggles, as the second unit was the main culprit in the first half run that brought the Fever to the lead.

For Indiana, the improvement from the opener to Monday night was visible, and while they didn’t get the win, seeing some tangible results to show that their process is improving is a good thing. Clark continues to look more and more settled offensively, finding passing lanes more frequently and making quicker, more decisive reads as a scorer and facilitator. There’s still some work to do on the turnover front (5 on Monday), but some of that is just continuing to adjust to the additional physicality she’s facing on the ball — best evidenced by the Thomas steal in the fourth quarter.

There’s still chemistry being built between the key members of the Fever, with Clark, Boston, and Mitchell all just three weeks into their partnership (and Mitchell just two games into being back in the lineup). The flashes are there, and now it’s a matter of learning how to finish off games against veteran groups like the Sun that know exactly how they want to operate down the stretch.