Basketball-Sun cool Fever in Clark's WNBA debut


May 14, 2024; Uncasville, Connecticut, USA; Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) returns the ball against the Connecticut Sun in the second quarter at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut (Reuters) -The Connecticut Sun dimmed the spotlight on Caitlin Clark in her Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) debut on Tuesday, as All-Star DeWanna Bonner put up 20 points at home to beat the Indiana Fever 92-71.

Clark's sharpshooting abilities made her appointment viewing in the final year of her collegiate career, and a sold-out crowd piled into Mohegan Sun Arena to watch her first regular-season game in the professional ranks.

But the Sun refused to let the six-foot guard steal the show, as DiJonai Carrington clobbered Clark on defense, Alyssa Thomas recorded her ninth career triple double and Bonner became the league's fifth all-time scorer with a third-quarter layup.

"This is what they expect from me every night, whether it's Caitlin or whether it's whoever we're playing," Carrington said. "This is the standard."

Last year's unanimous Rookie of the Year, Aliyah Boston, kicked off the action with a two-pointer off an assist from Clark, but the Sun wrested the momentum quickly as guard Tyasha Harris put up a trio of threes in the first quarter.

Clark, who had 20 points with 10 turnovers across the game, struggled early and was unable to get on the board until a layup off a steal nearly halfway through the second quarter, prompting wild cheers from the crowd.

"I didn't have the greatest start," Clark told reporters. "It's the first one - there's going to be good ones, there's going to be bad ones."

She drained her first of four three-pointers with seconds left in the half, but the Fever trailed the Sun by 10 points going into the locker room and could never catch up with clumsy mistakes leading to 25 turnovers.

"They punched us in the mouth tonight," Fever coach Christie Sides told reporters. "We've got to figure out what we did tonight that we could do better."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in Uncasville, Connecticut; Additional reporting by Hussein Waaile; Editing by Sonali Paul and Jamie Freed)

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