Breanna Stewart scores 31 points as Liberty spoil Caitlin Clark's home opener

Fiifi Frimpong, New York Daily News on

Published in Basketball

Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello told reporters pregame that “college is different from the pros” when talking about Fever star guard Caitlin Clark’s transition into the WNBA.

It now seems like Brondello predicted Clark’s struggles in Thursday’s 102-66 Liberty victory over the Fever. In the first half of Clark’s home debut at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Liberty held Clark to just two points points with three turnovers while she missed all four shots from deep. Eventually, she scored just nine points. Clark will have to wait until Saturday to again try to secure her first WNBA victory.

Betnijah Laney-Hamilton and Kayla Thornton were tasked with containing the No. 1 overall pick throughout the night. The Fever’s missed opportunities were compounded with reigning MVP Breanna Stewart’s 20 first-half points. She continued to pour it on and ended with 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks.

Her offensive success Thursday night brought flashbacks of the barrages she dealt the Fever last season. In 2023, Stewart recorded two 40-point outings against Christie Sides’ squad. Stewart’s most recent barrage wasn’t as lethal, but the home team didn’t have many answers for her patented midrange turnarounds and precise shooting (12-for-21).

Stewart’s 10 rebounds, along with Jonquel Jones’ 10, contributed to the Liberty outrebounding the Fever, 40-26.

Jones, who finished with 14 points and three blocks, managed to not get burned when switched out on the perimeter against Clark. It was an all-out effort to slow down Indiana sensation in front of a packed house ready to embrace the league’s newest star. But at the end, there wasn’t much to cheer about for the home fans.


After trailing by 17 at halftime, Clark and the Fever got into a groove and went on a 12-0 run to end the third quarter. The run included Clark’s first trey made on the night and shortened the deficit to 11. But a Liberty 8-0 run to start the fourth helped regain momentum before cruising to victory. Sabrina Ionescu’s no-look pass to Stewart that led to a traditional three-point play highlighted the run and essentially capped a successful night for the Libs.

Clark’s night ended minutes before the final buzzer. Her home debut statl ine featured seven boards and six assists, but she shot 2 for 8 from the field.

Ionescu recorded 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists, and Laney-Hamilton scored 12 points. The Libs outscored the Fever by 43 points in Laney-Hamilton's 30 minutes on the floor. Courtney Vandersloot scored nine points and dished six assists.

Indiana’s Aliyah Boston missed 10 of her 15 shots while scored 12 points and grabbing 12 boards. Sharpshooter Katie Lou Samuelson made both of her treys and finished with 10 points.

The teams will meet again for the Liberty’s home opener at Barclays Center on Saturday.

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