Kaitlyn Clarke on fire from 3 in WNBA preseason; Arike Ogunbowale’s Late Heroism Beats the Fever

Caitlin Clark’s WNBA preseason debut happened much like her senior year at Iowa. She broke 3 seconds and did so in front of a sold-out crowd.

But it did not end in victory.

Clark made her WNBA debut for the Indiana Fever on Friday night in a preseason game against the Dallas Wings, just weeks after playing in the NCAA Championship game. He hit three first-quarter 3s and scored 21 points.

It wasn’t enough for the win as All-Star Arike Ogunbowale sank the Fever with a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left in a 79-76 Wings victory.

Clark drained a 3 on a contested layup, but it went over the mark as the buzzer sounded.

7,000 people packed the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas, to witness Clark’s introduction. They cheered her first game-day debut as a WNBA player.

It didn’t take long for Clark to give fans what they paid to see. A minute into the game, Clarke rose from beyond the arc on the right wing for her first 3-point attempt in a WNBA uniform. It sank through the net for a 5-2 Fever lead.

A few minutes later, she did it again. His second 3 extended Indiana’s first quarter lead to 14-3. He then drew a foul on a 3-point shot and hit 2 of 3 free throws to extend the Fever lead to 16-9 at the half.

His third, a 3 with 2:55 left in the quarter, put fellow freshman and former Ohio State guard Jaycee Shelton (No. 5 pick) on the floor. She tapped her former Big Ten rival up the court to get open, then pulled up from the top of the arc.

The officials didn’t see enough contact for a whistle, and Clark’s 3 extended Indiana’s lead to 19-15. After that she took her first break on the bench. When he left the game, he scored 11 of Indiana’s 19 points on 3 of 4 3s.

When she returned early in the second quarter, she picked up where she left off. This time, she was one step behind two-time All-Star Natasha Clark.

By the end of the half, he had shown himself to be the leading scorer last season and the NCAA’s assistant leader. She did so alongside last year’s No. 1 pick and WNBA Rookie of the Year Aaliyah Boston.

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Midway through the second quarter, Clark drove to the top of the drive and drew a double team, allowing Boston to attack the rim and break free. Clark found Boston with a bounce-pass through traffic that led to an open floor.

Foul trouble limited Clarke after the break. He picked up his third and fourth fouls on consecutive third-quarter possessions and went to the bench midway through the quarter without hitting a second-half bucket.

Kaitlyn Clark was on fire from the 3 in her WNBA preseason debut.  (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Kaitlyn Clark was on fire from the 3 in her WNBA preseason debut. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

He returned with 6:55 left in the fourth and Indiana leading, 62-60. His fifth 3 of the game gave Indiana a 67-65 lead.

But Ogunbowale’s late heroics spoiled his debut and ensured Dallas won.

Clark finished with 21 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. She shot 6 of 15 from the floor and 5 of 13 from beyond the arc.

Led Dallas with 21 points and five rebounds. Ogunbowale had 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. His game-winner was the only one from long range in seven attempts.

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  • Caitlin Clark leads the fever in debut

    Although not an official matchup, Clark’s streak of 20-point games continues in her WNBA preseason debut. He scored a team-high 21 points on 5-of-13 shooting from beyond the arc. He shot 40% overall and was 4-for-5 from the free throw line. No point guard has scored fewer than 20 points in a game since December 2022.

    Assists (two) don’t come as easily as 3s, and chemistry with Boston (eight points, 4-10 FG) takes time to develop. Clark added three rebounds and two steals, as well as a game-high five turnovers in 28:10 of playing time.

    The game felt like a regular season matchup from start to finish and provided the atmosphere. It gets tough when the games pile up against bigger, stronger defenders every night, but Clark proved any doubters wrong. He’ll be good in the pros, and Indiana is going to be a fun team when the season starts.

  • Clark told four-time WNBA champion Sherrill Swoopes in a postgame interview that she thought “it was a good kickoff to the WNBA season” and praised the atmosphere. There are little things she likes to clean up

    “These are good learning experiences for us,” Clark said. “It doesn’t count [in the standings]. [We’ll] Go back and watch the movie — the movie doesn’t lie — and learn from it.”

  • Clarke throws it in a final shot and tries to tie it from the corner. It’s not gone, but the WNBA debut for the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer.

  • Arike is stone cold in the final minutes of the game (college sports fans know all too well). She trailed Dallas, 79-76, by a cynical 3. Three seconds on the clock.

  • Arike Ogunbowale would love a word. He tied the game at 76 with a floater in the final minute. Clark misses a 3 attempt, Wheeler rebounds, Clark drives a clear lane and is denied by Natasha Howard. Clark gets called for a foul — his first late-game begging for a call as a pro — but it’s Howard’s third interception of the night.

    tie game, 26.7 seconds on the clock was the longest in any preseason game

  • Clark blocked his shot with 26.7 remaining and the score was 76. But there are only 2 seconds left on the shot clock.

  • Clark scored at the FT line to tie the game at 74 with 1:15 left. She drowned both

  • I love leaving the sideline players in a close game, even if it’s the pre-season opener. WNBA training camp is a short window and the Fever’s opening schedule is tough (Connecticut, New York, Seattle, Las Vegas). Now put them in a situation where the standings don’t matter and build from there.

  • Clark ends his game with five turnovers. Many of the more ambitious passes.

  • Sure, another 3, why not. Clark scored the inbounds on an assist from Erika Wheeler. 5-of-10 from 3-point range for 19 points.

  • Sides subs his starters again at 6:26 of the fourth quarter.

  • Clark is on the bench to start the fourth quarter. Nalisa Smith is the only one who starts the fever. We’ll see if she sees more time tonight or if Sides decides to see how players handle a close game on the depth chart in the fourth quarter. Indiana lost 16 games by single digits last year, which was growing pains for the youth on the team.

  • Jaylin Brown pulled it off so beautifully for his seventh bucket of the game. He has 17 points for Dallas and looks like a confident, comfortable vet. If Brown doesn’t make the Wings roster, he’ll land some tough deals throughout the season to fill seven-day and 10-day jobs.

  • Clark heads to the bench after picking up his fourth foul with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

  • It was Clark’s fourth turnover in another good defensive game by Dallas. Iowa had turnover-heavy times and will be a center for improvement throughout the season against better defenders than he faced in college.

  • “Catch, shoot, from DFW.”

    Everyone prepared their deep distant location calls, I see.

  • Clarke is out for the start of the second half…

  • Fever in half

    It will be interesting to see how much time Clarke plays in the second half. The Fever have 15 players in camp and need to cut three before the season opener on May 14. One more preseason game is on the schedule at home next week. Head coach Christy Sides will want to see more of those players in the mix for final roster spots.

    Nalisa Smith (16:31), Aliyah Boston (17:33) and Clark (16:05) all played at least five more minutes in the first half than any other Fever player. All are locks for team and starting positions. Kelsey Mitchell (out, left ankle) and Katie Lou Samuelson (out, right ankle and returning from maternity leave) will fill the projected starting lineup when they return.

  • At the half, the Fever led 48-40 as Clark scored 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting (3 of 4-of-8).

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