July 8, 2024

Caitlin Clark rallies Fever past Liberty 83-78 with first triple-double by WNBA rookie

ndiana Fever's Caitlin Clark reacts during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Indianapolis. - Darron Cummings / AP Photo

ndiana Fever's Caitlin Clark reacts during the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, Saturday, July 6, 2024, in Indianapolis.

Darron Cummings / AP Photo

Caitlin Clark posted the first triple-double by a rookie in WNBA history to help rally Indiana to an 83-78 victory over New York on Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, snapping the Fever's nine-game losing streak to the Liberty.

Clark finished with 19 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds for Indiana (9-13). The No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft was one rebound shy of a triple-double two games ago in an 88-82 road victory over the Phoenix Mercury.

"Obviously, it's really cool," Clark said. "My teammates have been finishing the ball really, really at a high rate. My assist numbers, that's because of them."

Indiana coach Christie Sides was impressed by Clark and the fact that the Fever outscored the Liberty by 12 in the final period.

"Caitlin with a triple-double, my gosh, that's incredible," she said after the game. "Holding New York to 16 points in the fourth quarter, that's huge for us. That's the No. 1 team in the league."

Clark had 11 points in the first quarter, making 3 of 4 from 3-point range. She topped double figures in assists in the third quarter and passed the 10-rebound mark in the fourth.

Clark had a three-point play and Kelsey Mitchell followed with a 3-pointer to tie the game at 75 with 2:31 to go. Aliyah Boston scored off a steal by Mitchell to give Indiana a two-point lead and Lexie Hull's reverse layup increased the lead to 79-75 at the 1:24 mark.

New York's Sabrina Ionescu answered with a 3-pointer but missed one the next time down the court with a chance to give the Liberty the lead. Boston made two free throws with 17 seconds left and Mitchell hit two with 11 seconds remaining to wrap up the upset.

New York made only 10 of 42 attempts from beyond the arc.

"We defended well the whole game," Boston said. "Those last few minutes, especially those last few possessions, were great for us."

Boston scored 18 points on 8-for-12 shooting and had eight rebounds for the Fever. Mitchell scored 14, topping double figures for the ninth-straight game. NaLyssa Smith, the second overall pick in the 2022 draft, added 12 points and 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double this season.

Ionescu scored 22 to lead New York (17-4), which had won five straight games. Betnijah Laney-Hamilton finished with 20 points, making four 3-pointers. Breanna Stewart added 14 points, six rebounds and six assists. Jonquel Jones had 12 rebounds to go with six points and three steals.

Clark hit a 3-pointer and followed with a layup to spark Indiana to an 8-0 run to begin the game. She turned a steal into a 3-pointer to give the Fever their biggest lead at 24-12 with 3:04 left in the quarter. Laney-Hamilton hit a jumper with two seconds left as New York scored the final six points to get within six heading to the second period.

Clark's turnaround fadeaway jumper gave the Fever a 31-20 lead with 7:48 left in the second quarter. Jones scored the final five points in a 12-0 run from there and the Liberty took their first lead. Smith answered with a layup to end a scoring drought that reached 5:06 and Indiana regained the lead.

Stewart, who averaged 22.7 points in three earlier wins this season over the Fever, made two free throws in the final minute to get New York within 39-38 at halftime.

Laney-Hamilton hit a go-ahead jumper and Ionescu followed with a basket and a 3-pointer off a steal by Stewart to give New York a 57-50 lead with 4:39 left in the third quarter. Laney-Hamilton hit a pull-up jumper with three seconds left and the Liberty took a 62-55 advantage into the final period.

Clark noted the Fever are learning not to wilt under pressure when things aren't going their way.

"I think the biggest difference has been when teams make runs, we don't crumble," Clark said. "We found a way to stay resilient and kind of close the gap."

New York coach Sandy Brondello wasn't happy with the Liberty's mindset at the start.

"I didn't think we came out with the necessary urgency to compete," Brondello said. "They're 6-4 in the last 10 games. They executed better than us down the stretch."

Indiana beat New York for the first time since posting a 92-86 road win on May 13, 2022. The Fever lead the all-time series 50-41.

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