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Indiana Fever’s Caitlin Clark stars in preseason debut

Friday was a big night at UT Arlington’s College Park Center as it marked the WNBA debut of Indiana Fever star Caitlin Clark. Clark, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, appeared in her first professional game, a preseason game against the Dallas Wings.

She wasted no time in getting started. The NCAA’s all-time leading scorer got off to a good start, scoring 11 of the game’s first 19 points for the Fever. It took less than a minute for her to knock down her first three-pointer.

Caitlin Clark finished the first half with 16 points, including an impressive highlight against WNBA veteran Natasha Howard. A patented stepback 3-pointer was knocked down and she immediately felt at home with her new team.

Foul trouble limited the Iowa star to just a few minutes in the third quarter as Clark was held scoreless. But it didn’t take long for her to warm up again, as she knocked down her fifth 3-pointer of the game and found Aliyah Boston for a nice assist.

In the final moments of the game, Clark received her first “Welcome to the WNBA” moment. Howard drove to the basket in a tie game and retaliated against Clark for her step back in the first half, blocking the shot attempt.

With 3.0 seconds left in the game, it was Wings star Arike Ogunbowale who sent the Dallas fans home happy. She knocked down a stepback 3-pointer of her own to give them a 79-76 lead, which was the final score.

Clark attempted an off-balance shot at the buzzer but failed to sink it. She finished her first professional match with 21 points, shooting 6-of-15 from the floor and 5-of-13 from 3-point range. She added three rebounds, two assists and two steals, but also had five turnovers.

Despite this, she still finished the game with a plus/minus ratio of +6. “My biggest goal tonight was to be myself and play aggressively,” Caitlin Clark said. “I thought I did. I think there is a lot to be proud of.”

It was a strong debut for Clark, who admitted it will take some time to get used to how physical the WNBA is compared to the college game. Clearing turnovers is also a must, as Indiana Fever head coach Christie Sides said Clark looked “gassed” at times and called for a substitution toward the end of the first quarter.

All in all, it was a great first night for Caitlin Clark, who received a thunderous ovation despite being on the road. That will likely be the case for many Indiana Fever games this season, as she is a bona fide superstar that people are excited to see play.