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Veteran Sun teach rookie Caitlin Clark, Fever a lesson in 92-71 season-opening win

Emily Adams, Hartford Courant on

Published in Basketball

UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The “Caitlin Clark effect” may have fueled the sold-out crowd that flocked to Mohegan Sun Arena for the Connecticut Sun season opener against the Indiana Fever, but the veteran Sun squad asserted its will against the rookie superstar in a 92-69 win on Tuesday.

DeWanna Bonner appeared ageless in the first game of her 15th WNBA season, logging a team-high 20 points on 57.2% shooting from the field. She surpassed Candice Dupree to become the league’s No. 5 all-time scorer with 6,901 career points. She needs 214 more to overtake UConn legend Tina Charles at No. 4.

Sun star Alyssa Thomas, last year’s MVP runner-up, had her moment against Clark drawing two of the rookie’s three fouls against her in the first five minutes of the game. Thomas set the WNBA record for single-season triple-doubles in 2023 and picked up exactly where she left off Tuesday with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists and three steals. She is the first player to start the season with a triple-double since 2005.

The Fever were led in scoring by Clark with 20 points, shooting 5 for 15 from the field, but the star point guard struggled to impact the stat sheet. She logged just three assists and no rebounds. NaLyssa Smith was Indiana’s next highest scorer with 13 points, nearly reaching a double-double with nine rebounds.

 

It was a sloppy first half for the Sun, who shot 40% from the field in the first quarter, but a dominant performance from Tyasha Harris kept Connecticut stable through early growing pains. Harris shot 3 for 4 from 3-point range in the first quarter, becoming the first Sun player to score in double digits with 11 points by halftime. She finished with 16 points, hitting 54.5% from the field and 66.7% from 3-point range.

However, she was surpassed in the second quarter by starting guard DiJonai Carrington, who scored seven points in the first three minutes after the quarter break and finished the half with a team-best 12 points. Carrington bore the brunt of the defensive assignment on Clark and held her to just two field goals before halftime. The rookie had 10 turnovers, a Fever franchise record, including a steal-and-score by Carrington late in the second quarter.

Carrington also had an elite offensive performance in her first game as a starter, logging 16 points plus five rebounds and two steals.


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