Sabrina Ionescu Dismisses Caitlin Clark Amid Fever’s Upset Win Over Liberty

Sabrina Ionescu Dismisses Caitlin Clark Amid Fever’s Upset Win Over Liberty

Liberty head coach Sandy Brondello’s pregame comments about the transition from college to the pros for Fever star guard Caitlin Clark seemed prophetic during Thursday’s 102-66 Liberty victory over the Fever. In Clark’s home debut at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, the Liberty defense held her to just two points in the first half, with three turnovers and missed all four of her three-point attempts. Clark finished the game with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists, but shot only 2 for 8 from the field. She will have to wait until Saturday to try for her first WNBA victory.

Betnijah Laney-Hamilton and Kayla Thornton were primarily responsible for containing the No. 1 overall pick throughout the night. The Fever’s missed opportunities were further compounded by reigning MVP Breanna Stewart’s dominant performance. Stewart scored 20 points in the first half and finished the game with 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. Her offensive prowess brought back memories of her previous high-scoring games against the Fever last season, where she recorded two 40-point outings.

Stewart’s 10 rebounds, along with Jonquel Jones’ 10, helped the Liberty outrebound the Fever 40-26. Jones also contributed 14 points and three blocks, managing to hold her own when switched onto the perimeter against Clark. The Liberty’s all-out effort to slow down the Indiana sensation was evident in front of a packed house eager to see the league’s newest star. However, the home fans had little to cheer about by the end of the game.

After trailing by 17 points at halftime, Clark and the Fever found some rhythm and went on a 12-0 run to end the third quarter, which included Clark’s first made three-pointer of the night, reducing the deficit to 11 points. However, the Liberty responded with an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter, regaining momentum and cruising to victory. A highlight of the run was Sabrina Ionescu’s no-look pass to Stewart, leading to a traditional three-point play that essentially sealed the game for the Liberty.

Ionescu finished the game with 14 points, seven rebounds, and three assists, while Laney-Hamilton added 12 points. The Liberty outscored the Fever by 43 points during Laney-Hamilton’s 30 minutes on the floor. Courtney Vandersloot also contributed nine points and six assists.

On the Fever’s side, Aliyah Boston struggled, missing 10 of her 15 shots but still managed to score 12 points and grab 12 rebounds. Sharpshooter Katie Lou Samuelson made both of her three-point attempts and finished with 10 points.

The teams are set to meet again for the Liberty’s home opener at Barclays Center on Saturday, where Clark will have another opportunity to secure her first WNBA victory.

Source: NewsBreak, Review-Journal

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