Caitlin Clark catches fire from 3 in WNBA preseason debut; Arike Ogunbowale’s late heroics send Wings past Fever

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA preseason debut went much like her senior year at Iowa. She hit a bunch of 3s and did so in front of a sold-out crowd.

But it didn’t end in a win.

Just weeks after playing in the NCAA championship game, Clark made her WNBA debut for the Indiana Fever on Friday night in a preseason game against the Dallas Wings. She hit three first-quarter 3-pointers and scored a game-high 21 points.

It wasn’t enough for the win as All-Star Arike Ogunbowale sunk the Fever with a step-back 3-pointer with three seconds remaining in a 79-76 Wings win.

Clark had a contested look a game-tying 3, but it was well off the mark as the buzzer sounded.

A crowd of 7,000 showed up to the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, to see Clark’s debut. It gave a raucous cheer to her first game-day introduction as a WNBA player.

It didn’t take long for Clark to give fans what they paid to see. Less then a minute into the game, Clark pulled up from beyond the arc on the right wing for her first 3-point attempt in a WNBA uniform. It sank through the net for a 5-2 Fever lead.

Minutes later, she did it again. Her second 3-pointer extended Indiana’s first quarter lead to 14-3. She then drew a foul on a 3-point shot and hit 2-of-3 free throws to extend the Fever lead to 16-9 midway through the first.

Her third 3-pointer with 2:55 left in the quarter put fellow rookie and former Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon (No. 5 overall pick) on the floor. Clark knocked her former Big Ten rival to the court to get open, then pulled up from the top of the arc.

Officials didn’t see enough contact to warrant a whistle, and Clark’s 3 extended Indiana’s lead to 19-15. She then took her first break on the bench. When she left the game, she’d scored 11 of Indiana’s 19 points while hitting 3-of-4 3-pointers.

When she returned early in the second quarter, she picked up where she left off. This time, she pulled up for a step-back 3 over two-time All-Star Natasha Clark.

Before the half was over, Clark showed off the playmaking that made her the NCAA’s assist leader in addition to being its top scorer last season. She did so in tandem with last year’s No. 1 pick and reigning WNBA rookie of the year Aliyah Boston.

Midway through the second quarter, Clark drove to the top of the key and drew a double team, allowing Boston to break free to attack the rim. Clark found Boston with a bounce pass through traffic that led to an open layup.

Foul trouble limited Clark after halftime. She picked up her third and fourth fouls on consecutive third-quarter possessions and went to the bench midway through the quarter without having hit a second-half bucket.

Caitlin Clark caught fire from 3 in her WNBA preseason debut. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)Caitlin Clark caught fire from 3 in her WNBA preseason debut. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark caught fire from 3 in her WNBA preseason debut. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

She returned with 6:55 remaining in the fourth and Indiana leading, 62-60. Her fifth 3-pointer of the game gave Indiana a 67-65 lead.

But Ogunbowale’s late heroics spoiled her debut and secured the Dallas win.

Clark finished with 21 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. She shot 6 of 15 from the floor and 5 of 13 from beyond the arc, but did commit five turnovers on some ambitious passes.

“Overall, definitely what I expected,” Clark said after the game.

Undrafted rookie Jaelyn Brown led Dallas with 21 points and five rebounds. Ogunbowale tallied 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. Her game-winner was her only make from long-distance in seven attempts.