A capacity crowd of 17,424 attended Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, eager to witness Caitlin Clark’s first home game for the Indiana Fever against the formidable New York Liberty, the reigning WNBA Eastern Conference champions.

Unfortunately, it proved a tough outing for Clark in her second WNBA appearance, managing just nine points amidst the cheers of the home supporters, including her former Iowa coaches Lisa Bluder and Jan Jensen. She made only 2 out of 8 field goals and hit just 1 of her 7 attempts from three-point range, contributing seven rebounds and six assists in a 102–66 rout by one of the league’s premier teams, according to ESPN.

Breanna Stewart, the current WNBA MVP, dominated the game, scoring 31 points for the Liberty. Stewart excelled against the Fever’s defense, making 12 of her 21 shots and collecting 10 rebounds along with four assists.

Sabrina Ionescu added 14 points and seven rebounds for New York. Jonquel Jones also impressed with a double-double of 14 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists, and Betnijah Laney-Hamilton chipped in with 12 points. The Liberty’s bench contributed 22 points, with Kayla Thornton leading with nine.

The sold-out game marked the Fever’s first packed house since October 2012, during Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. It also recorded the second-highest attendance for a home opener in the franchise’s history and the third-largest for any regular season game.

Despite the significant turnout, Clark struggled to excite the crowd in the first half, scoring a mere two points on 1-for-5 shooting, including 0-for-4 from beyond the arc, and committing three turnovers under the intense defense from Liberty’s Courtney Vandersloot and Ivana Dojkic. She did manage four rebounds and five assists but faced difficulties in integrating effectively into the Fever’s often hesitant offense, which frequently positioned her away from the ball. Clark found some rhythm in the third quarter, where she scored seven of her nine points.

On the defensive end, Clark encountered challenges as well, accumulating five personal fouls, which seemed to limit her defensive assertiveness. Aliyah Boston led the Fever with 12 points and seven rebounds in a challenging matchup against Jones, while Katie Lou Samuelson contributed 10 points.

Clark’s difficult home debut followed her inaugural WNBA game against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday. In that game, she scored 20 points but struggled with her shooting accuracy and faced strong defensive pressure, resulting in a record 10 turnovers for a rookie debut. She also dealt with early foul trouble, which restricted her playtime in the first quarter, via Reuters.

After the game, Clark expressed her feelings, noting the disappointment but emphasizing the need to not dwell too much on a single game’s outcome. As Clark and the Fever prepare to face the Liberty again, this time in New York on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET, broadcasted on ABC, they hope for a turnaround and a more favorable outcome in their rematch.



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