Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese face off in first WNBA game as Indiana Fever hold on to beat Chicago Sky in Commissioner’s Cup

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese transferred their already storied collegiate rivalry into the professional ranks of the WNBA on Saturday, and it was Clark who came out on top.

The 2024 No. 1 draft pick scored 11 points as the Indiana Fever defeated the Chicago Sky 71-70 in a closely-fought game that hovered on a knife edge until the very last moments when the Sky’s Marina Mabrey missed a crucial free throw.

While Clark’s normally laser-sharp shooting was blunted in this game – she scored six points less than her average of 17.6 points – Indiana was able to defend its slender lead and hold off a late flurry from Chicago in the opening encounter of the 2024 Commissioner’s Cup, the WNBA’s annual in-season tournament.

Clark also added eight rebounds and six assists in a well-rounded performance. After the crucial win, the rookie joined New York Liberty star Sabrina Ionescu as the only WNBA players with at least 150 points, 50 rebounds, and 50 assists in their first 10 career games.

But it was far from an individual effort with Clark’s teammates helping lift the Fever to their first home win of the season. All of Indiana’s starters scored in double digits in the big game.

The story continues

Saturday’s game was the latest chapter in one of the most intriguing individual rivalries in sports. Reese was the subject of much scrutiny after she was seen taunting Clark following her LSU team’s defeat of Clark’s University of Iowa in the 2023 NCAA championship game, though Clark herself was quick to defend Reese’s actions.

A year later, Clark and Iowa got a measure of revenge by defeating Reese and LSU in the Elite Eight of the 2024 NCAA tournament.

While the rivalry between Clark and Reese was the major talking point around the game, there was a tense moment late in the third quarter elsewhere.

Chicago guard Chennedy Carter was called for a dead ball foul after throwing a shoulder into Clark’s back during a stoppage in play, knocking the Fever star to the hardwood.

Clark and the Indiana Fever were able to record an important home win. - Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Clark and the Indiana Fever were able to record an important home win. - Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Another highly touted rookie also featured as Kamilla Cardoso made her WNBA debut Saturday.

Cardoso scored 11 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Sky in her first action since being named the 2024 NCAA women’s tournament most outstanding player. Cardoso was key in leading the University of South Carolina to the national championship and was the third overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft for Chicago.

A sellout crowd of 17,274 fans were in attendance at Gainbridge Fieldhouse to watch the much-anticipated matchup. The Fever’s attendance through the first five home games of this season has already surpassed the team’s entire 20-game home schedule in 2023, according to ESPN’s broadcast.

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