Caitlin Clark’s 10-turnover WNBA debut is a rude awakening

Caitlin Clark made her WNBA debut in front of a sold out crowd in Connecticut on Tuesday night.

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA career is officially off and running.

It just didn’t get off to the best start.

Clark struggled early in her first regular season game with the Indiana Fever on Tuesday night, and seemed to take a bit to settle in. She still had a team-high 20 points after coming alive in the second half, but she committed 10 turnovers in the Fever’s season-opening 92-71 loss to the Connecticut Sun. The 10 turnovers marked the most in a WNBA debut in league history.

After a dominant run at Iowa, Clark led a draft class that is perhaps the best the WNBA has seen in well over a decade. Tuesday’s game at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut was sold-out, which made it the first home opener sell out in Connecticut since 2003. It was even added to Disney+ as a streaming option for fans watching at home. Plenty of big names attended the game in person, including UConn coach Geno Auriemma and several New England Patriots players. Clark drew a ridiculous amount of bets to win MVP this season, too, even though that historically feels like a long shot.

“I feel like a little kid. I feel really excited more than anything,” Clark said before the game, via ESPN’s Alexa Philippou. “You only get your first WNBA game one time, so you better make the most of it.”

Clark’s first WNBA points came just ahead of the midway point of the second quarter. On a fast break, Clark hesitated at the 3-point line and drove right past Sun star DeWanna Bonner to the rim for a layup.

Clark, however, struggled to open the game. She went 0-of-4 from the field before getting her layup to fall, and she picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter after making a great pass to Aliyah Boston to kick off the night. That sent her to the bench for an extended period in the first quarter.

After hitting a pair of free throws later in the second quarter, Clark finally drilled a 3-pointer. She hit a bucket over DiJonai Carrington from the wing with about 30 seconds left, which briefly cut the Sun’s lead to single digits.

Clark shot 2-of-7 from the field in the first half, and went just 1-of-4 from behind the arc. Carrington led the Sun with 14 points to give them a 10-point lead at the break. Clark walked off the court with Boston, who was clearly frustrated with how the half went and the two talked the entire way into the tunnel back to the locker room.

Clark’s second half went significantly better better than the first, but it came too late. She hit a 3-pointer early in the third quarter without any issue, and finally seemed a bit more like herself on the court. But every time the Fever started to cut into the deficit, the Sun had an answer waiting. They entered the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead, and then immediately pushed that to double digits.

The Sun opened the fourth quarter on a 13-5 tear, which they rode to the 21-point win. Clark went on a little run of her own in the fourth quarter, where she scored eight straight points for the Fever, but it didn’t make a difference.

Alyssa Thomas led the Sun with a triple-double, which marked the ninth of her career. She had 13 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the win. Bonner added 20 points and six rebounds after she shot 8-of-14 from the field. Carrington, who left briefly in the second half with an apparent leg injury, had 16 points. Tyasha Harris also finished with 16 points.

Clark had three assists to go with her 20 points to lead the Fever. She shot just 5-of-15 from the field and 4-of-11 from behind the arc. NaLyssa Smith finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. They were the only two Fever players to hit double figures in the loss. The Fever had 25 total turnovers as a team, too.

Clark and the Fever will be back in action on Thursday night, when they host the New York Liberty in their home-opener. If it’s anything like their lone preseason game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, Clark and the Fever will have a chance to get their first win of the season in front of another sold out crowd.

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