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Indiana Fever beat L.A. Sparks, Caitlin Clark’s first WNBA win


Indiana Fever beat L.A. Sparks, Caitlin Clark’s first WNBA win

LOS ANGELES — Caitlin Clark had 11 points and 10 rebounds for her first WNBA double-double and the Indiana Fever beat the Los Angeles Sparks 78-73 on Friday night to snap a season-opening five-game skid in front of a Sparks record crowd of 19,103.

Kelsey Mitchell led Indiana (1-5) with 18 points and Aliyah Boston and Temi Fagbenle had 17 each.

Clark’s rebounds were a career high. She missed her first seven 3-point attempts, but finally made one with 2:27 remaining in the game, triggering an explosion of cheers and applause.

The game featured the youth and future of the WNBA, with No. 1 draft pick Clark playing against No. 2 pick Cameron Brink and fourth selection Rickea Jackson of the Sparks.

“They’re making a huge impact in our league,” Fever coach Christie Sides said before the game.

Brink had 15 points and nine rebounds and Jackson added 16 points off the bench for the Sparks (1-3). Dearica Hamby had 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Jason Sudeikis, Rosie O’Donnell, Kathy Griffin, DeMar DeRozan of the Chicago Bulls, Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors, USC star JuJu Watkins along with teammate Rayah Marshall and coach Lindsay Gottlieb were among the franchise’s largest home crowd for the Sparks’ first game at Arena this season.

Clark gave a thumbs up and smiled as she walked across the court after the buzzer and the crowd cheered her every move.

Boston, Fagbenle and Mitchell dominated the fourth quarter, with Mitchell hitting back-to-back 3-pointers.

Brink made a 3-pointer and Lexi Brown scored to draw the Sparks to 73-71. But Clark answered with her second 3-pointer with 40 seconds left and the crowd roared again as Indiana stayed in front, 76-71.

The Fever were just 7 of 25 from long range; the Sparks also struggled, going 5 of 24.

The Sparks played their first two home games in Long Beach, but with Clark and the Fever in town the game was moved to downtown Los Angeles.

Trailing 45-34, the Fever opened the third quarter on a 16-3 run to lead 50-48. Fagbenle and Boston combined to score all of Indiana’s points, with Fagbenle’s 3-pointer capping the spurt. Clark didn’t score but she came up with a big steal at midcourt and after she missed Boston scored.

Up next, the Fever visit the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday, and the Sparks host the Dallas Wings on Sunday.

The Fever and Sparks meet again Tuesday in Indianapolis.

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