Caitlin Clark makes 7 3-pointers, scores 30 in Indiana win vs Washington before sellout of 20,000


WASHINGTON — Caitlin Clark put on a show in front of one of the largest crowds in WNBA history.

Clark tied the rookie record with seven 3-pointers, equaled a career high with 30 points and converted enough free throws down the stretch to help the Indiana Fever hold on for an 85-83 victory over the winless Washington Mystics on Friday night.

“It felt good to shoot the ball well,” said Clark, who finished 7 of 13 from 3-point range. “I feel like even my misses were right there.”

With fan interest in Clark still surging, the Mystics hosted this game at Capital One Arena instead of the smaller venue where they usually play at home. It was a sellout of 20,333 — the league’s largest attendance for a game since 2007, according to acrossthetimeline.com.

Game 5 of the WNBA Finals drew 22,067 to watch Phoenix play Detroit at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Sept. 16, 2007.

“I think we’re part of history, so I’ll take it,” Indiana’s Kelsey Mitchell said. “We embrace it. I’m pretty sure our organization can feed off of it, the state of Indiana.”

Clark said before the game she had no grudge against Chennedy Carter, the Chicago Sky player who flagrantly fouled her last weekend. Then she produced the type of performance that will help put the focus back on basketball and what she can do on the court.

Clark easily had the most 3-pointers of her young career — her seven tied the league record for a rookie set by Crystal Robinson of the New York Liberty in 1999 — and she made three of her four free throw attempts late. She missed the last one, and the ball was knocked out of bounds as the Mystics (0-11) tried to rush up the court. That gave Washington one last chance with 1.4 seconds left, but the Mystics couldn’t get a shot off in time.

Clark had eight rebounds and six assists in perhaps her best all-around game so far. She went 8 of 15 from the field with four steals, although turnovers (eight) were an issue again for the former Iowa star.

Indiana (3-9) was coming off a four-day layoff after a grueling start to the season that included 11 games in 20 days.

“All of us would say that’s just not ideal,” Clark said. “It’s not an ideal way to play basketball. I think you could see the exhaustion on our faces — more mentally than probably physically.”

This time it was Washington that was put to the test, playing the second night of a back-to-back.

Indiana led 82-80 when Aliyah Boston missed two free throws with 25.6 seconds remaining, giving Washington a chance to tie. Ariel Atkins missed a driving attempt, however, and the ball went out of bounds. The Mystics then had to foul, and Clark made two free throws for a four-point lead.

Karlie Samuelson answered with a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one.

Clark’s had another 30-point game in the WNBA in a loss to Los Angeles on May 28. She hadn’t made more than four 3s in a game and had shot over 50% from the field only once.

Stefanie Dolson scored 19 points for Washington, but the Mystics missed a big chance when Indiana’s NaLyssa Smith was called for a clear-path foul with 1:37 to play. Down by three, Washington rookie Aaliyah Edwards made only one of two free throws, and the Mystics didn’t score on the ensuing possession.

Washington lost back-to-back games against top rookies — Angel Reese and Chicago beat the Mystics on Thursday in a game that was also played at Capital One Arena.

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AP WNBA: https://apnews.com/hub/wnba-basketball



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