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Sun vs. Fever score, takeaways: Caitlin Clark struggles as Connecticut dominates Indiana in season opener


Tuesday night’s WNBA season opener between Indiana Fever and Connecticut Sun was supposed to be Caitlin Clark’s show, but Alyssa Thomas and Co. had other ideas. The veteran Sun frustrated Clark all night en route to a 92-71 win.

Thomas continued where she left off last season by doing a little bit of everything for the sun. She finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists for her ninth career triple-double, expanding her all-time record. DeWanna Bonner, meanwhile, had 20 points, moving into fifth place on the all-time scoring list.

Clark got off to a terrible start, as she struggled to adapt to the Sun’s extreme defensive pressure and faced early foul trouble. Although she eventually settled down and started taking some shots in the second half, she turned the ball over ten times, which set a new franchise record and was the most in a debut of all time. All told, she finished with 20 points and three assists on 5-of-15 shooting from the field.

Here are some key insights from the game:

Thomas gets another triple-double

Alyssa Thomas set a single-season record with seven triple-doubles in 2023, and she appears intent on breaking that record this summer. She took just eight shots, but finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists and three steals for her first triple-double of the season.

Thomas now has nine career triple-doubles (plus three more in the postseason), which is easily the all-time record. Sabrina Ionescu is in second place with four, and no one else has more than two. In fact, every other player in WNBA history has a combined 21 triple-doubles, giving Thomas 30% of all-time triple-doubles.

If any doubt arises during the offseason, Thomas is still capable of putting the Sun on her back and leading them in every category except scoring. As long as Thomas is around, the Sun will be a formidable team.

Clark is welcomed into the league

Caitlin Clark set another record with her debut, but not the record she wanted. Her 10 turnovers on Tuesday were the most in a debut all-time, set a Fever franchise record and ranked eighth all-time in a game. If anyone ever asks Clark about her “welcome to the league” moment, this was the game.

Within the first five minutes of her career, Clark missed her first three shots, turned the ball over and picked up two fouls. DiJonai Carrington chased her all over the court, and the Sun sent multiple defenders her way at every opportunity. While Clark has faced that approach before, she had never faced a team as tall, athletic and physical as the Sun.

If there’s anything positive about this performance for Clark, it’s that she won’t face many tougher tests all season. The Sun are one of the best defensive teams in the league, with a unique set of defenders suited to harassing Clark. And that’s not even taking into account the emotions and intensity of opening night.

This was a disappointing debut for Clark, but was not a cause for long-term concern.

Bonner makes history

DeWanna Bonner is one of the most underrated players in the league, and she’s still going strong in her 15th season. She scored another 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 28 minutes to lead the Sun in scoring, just as she did last season when she scored 17.4 points per game.

The most consequential of those baskets came midway through the third quarter, when she ran the fastbreak with Thomas and converted a tough layup. These points not only pushed the Sun’s lead back to double digits, but also moved Bonner to fifth on the all-time scoring list.

Bonner surpassed her ex-wife Candice Dupree and now has 6,901 career points. The only players with more are Diana Taurasi, Tina Thompson, Tamika Catchings and Tina Charles. Bonner is 214 points behind Charles for fourth place, but the former MVP made a surprise return to the league this season, so Bonner is unlikely to move up any more spots this summer.