Caitlin Clark catches fire from 3 in WNBA preseason; Arike Ogunbowale's late heroics send Wings past Fever

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

But it didn't end in a win.

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

But it wasn't enough for the win as All-Star Arike Ogunbowale sunk the Fever with a step-back 3-pointer with 3 seconds remaining in a 79-76 Wings win.

Clark had a contested look a game-tying 3, but it was well off the mark as the buzzer sounded.

A crowd of 7,000 showed up to the College Park Center in Arlington, Texas to see Clark's debut. They gave a raucous cheer to her first game-day introduction as a WNBA player.

It didn't take long for Clark to give fans what they paid to see. Less then a minute into the game, Clark pulled up 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.

Minutes later, she did it again. Her second 3 extended Indiana’s first quarter lead to 14-3. She then drew a foul on a 3-point shot and hit 2 of 3 free throws to extend the Fever lead to 16-9 midway through the first.

Her third made 3 with 2:55 left in the quarter put fellow rookie and former Ohio State guard Jacy Sheldon (No. 5 pick) on the floor. She knocked her former Big Ten rival to the court to get open, then pulled up from the top of the arc.

Officials didn’t see enough contact to warrant a whistle, and Clark's 3 extended Indiana's lead to 19-15. She then took her first break on the bench. When she left the game, she’d scored 11 of Indiana’s 19 points while hitting 3 of 4 3s.

When she returned early in the second quarter, she picked up where she left off. This time, she pulled up for a step-back 3 over two-time All-Star Natasha Clark.

Before the half was over, she showed off the playmaking that made her the NCAA's assists leader in addition to being its top scorer last season. She did so in tandem with last year's No. 1 pick and reigning WNBA rookie of the year Aliyah Boston.

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

Foul trouble limited Clark after halftime. She picked up her third and fourth fouls on consecutive third-quarter possessions and went to the bench midway through the quarter without having hit a second-half bucket.

Caitlin Clark caught fire from 3 in her WNBA preseason debut. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Caitlin Clark caught fire from 3 in her WNBA preseason debut. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

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

But Ogunbowale's late heroics spoiled her debut and secured the Dallas win.

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.

Undrafted rookie Jaelyn Brown led Dallas with 21 points and five rebounds. Ogunbowale tallied 19 points, three rebounds and three assists. Her game-winner was her only make from long-distance in seven attempts.

  • Featured

    Caitlin Clark leads Fever in debut

    Though not an official contest, Clark's streak of 20-point games continues in her WNBA preseason debut. She scored a team-high 21 points mostly from a 5-of-13 outing from beyond the arc. She shot 40% overall and was 4-of-5 from the free throw line. The point guard hasn't scored fewer than 20 points in a game since December 2022.

    The assists (two) didn't come as easy as the 3s and it will take time for the chemistry with Boston (eight points, 4-10 FG) to develop. Clark added three rebounds and two steals, as well as a game-high five turnovers in 28:10 of playing time.

    This game felt like a regular season contest from start to finish and the atmosphere delivered. It will become tougher once the games pile up against bigger, stronger defenders every other night, but Clark proved any doubters wrong. She'll be fine in the pros and Indiana is going to be a fun team to watch as the season rolls onward.

  • Clark tells four-time WNBA champion Sheryl Swoopes in the post-game interview she thought it was a "good kickoff to the WNBA season" and praised the atmosphere. There's little things she wants to clean up

    "These are good learning experiences for us," Clark said. "This doesn't count [in the standings]. [We'll] go back and watch the film — film doesn't lie — and learn from that."

  • Clark tosses it up on a final shot to try and tie it from the corner. It doesn't go, but what a WNBA debut for the NCAA's all-time leading scorer.

  • Arike is stone cold in the final minutes of games (as fans of the college game know well). She puts Dallas up, 79-76, with a filthy step-back 3. Three seconds on the clock

  • Arike Ogunbowale would like a word. She ties the game at 76 with a floater in the final minute. Clark attempts a 3 that misses, Wheeler rebounds, Clark drives into a clear lane and is denied by Natasha Howard. Clark calls for a foul — her first late-game pleading for a call as a pro — but it's Howard's third block of the night.

    Tie game, 26.7 seconds on the clock in what doesn't feel like a preseason contest at all

  • Clark got her shot blocked with 26.7 remaining and the score tied at 76. But only 2 seconds are on the shot clock ...

  • Clark at the FT line with the game tied at 74 with 1:15 left. She sinks both

  • I really like Sides leaving her starters in here in a close game, even though it's a preseason opener. WNBA training camp is such a small window and the Fever's opening schedule is TOUGH (Connecticut, New York, Seattle, Las Vegas). Put them in the situation now when it doesn't matter in the standings and build from there.

  • Clark extends her game high with five turnovers. Many on very ambitious passes.

  • Sure, another 3, why not. Clark hits off the inbound play on an assist by Erica Wheeler. Up to 19 points shooting 5-of-10 from 3-point range.

  • Sides subs her starters back in at 6:26 of the fourth quarter.

  • Clark is on the bench to start the fourth quarter. The only Fever starter out there is NaLyssa Smith. We'll see if she sees any more time tonight, or if Sides decides to see how players further down the depth chart handle a close game in the fourth quarter. Indiana lost 16 games by single digits last year, a growing pain given the youth on the team.

  • Such a pretty pull-up by Jaelyn Brown for her seventh bucket of the game. She's up to a game-high 17 points for Dallas and looks like a confident, comfortable vet out there. If Brown doesn't make the Wings roster, she'll likely land on some hardship contracts throughout the season to fill in for seven-day and 10-day stints.

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

  • That's the fourth turnover for Clark on another good defensive play by Dallas. There were times at Iowa that turnovers piled up and it will be a focus for improvement throughout the season against better defenders than she faced in college.

  • "Catch, shoot, from DFW."

    Everyone prepped their deep-distance location calls, I see.

  • Clark is out there for the start of the second half ...

  • Fever at the half

    It will be interesting to see how much playing time Clark receives in the second half. The Fever have 15 players in camp and need to cut three before the season opener on May 14. There's one more preseason game on the schedule next week at home. Head coach Christie Sides will probably want to see more from those players in the mix for final roster spots.

    The trio of NaLyssa Smith (16:31), Aliyah Boston (17:33) and Clark (16:05) each played at least five minutes more than any other Fever players in the first half. All are locks for the team and starting positions. Kelsey Mitchell (out, left ankle) and Katie Lou Samuelson (out, right ankle and coming back from maternity leave) will fill out the projected starting lineup when they're back.

  • At the half, the Fever lead 48-40, with Clark posting 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting (4-of-8 from 3).

  • Clark is up to 14 minutes. Curious how much she will play tonight.

  • Fittingly, Clark's first assist as a Fever player is to former No. 1 pick Aliyah Boston. There's what we've been waiting to see. Clark slipped a quick one through the paint for her to put away.

  • Dallas is picking up Clark, guarding her almost to the half-court line, and she is still creating space, getting her shot off and hitting them. She appears to be fine at the pro level.

  • Clark adds a fourth 3 going to her left. The sold-out crowd in Arlington is getting the show they hoped to see. It's only preseason!

  • Clark scores 11 in first quarter

    Clark played the first 7:33 of the game before subbing out. She has 11 of Indiana's 23 points on an efficient 3-of-4, all from beyond the arc. She added one early rebound, but no assists yet. Wings lead, 26-23. Jaelyn Brown, an undrafted rookie who played four years at Cal from 2016-20, leads Dallas with eight points. A

  • For years, Dallas has leaned too much on Arike Ogunbowale's scoring as its main offense. That changed last year with Natasha Howard in the mix and fully healthy season from Satou Sabally. Jacy Sheldon showing early she can be a great offensive addition to the team as a top-five pick out of Ohio State. She's been tasked early with guarding Clark.

  • Jacy Sheldon fouls Caitlin Clark as if it's two months ago and we're watching the Big Ten. That was one of her chuck-it-up attempts when no passing lanes are available, but having Boston and Smith to clean up rebounds will be a huge help when those miss. Clark is up to eight points in five minutes.

  • Clark gets to the line and makes her first two free throws at the 5:10 mark of the first.

  • The Caitlin Clark Show is indeed as good as advertised. Holy moly

  • My goodness, ANOTHER 3 from Clark and it's from feet behind the line. Forces Dallas head coach Latricia Trammell to take a timeout.

  • Clark also had a rebound within the first minute off Dallas' missed opening possession. If this were hockey, she'd also have an assist on that first Indiana bucket by Smith. But, alas.

  • The time of Clark's first bucket was 9:06 of the first. Wow!

  • First 3 attempt, first make by Clark in the pros.

  • Fans are amped

    The fans are standing for Caitlin Clark's opening preseason game. What a scene!

  • Caitlin Clark gets the start in her pro preseason debut. Aliyah Boston, NaLyssa Smith, Lexie Hull and Erica Wheeler return to the starting lineup from last year. But Wheeler, who regularly played at point guard, will likely come off the bench when Kelsey Mitchell returns from an ankle injury. Mitchell moved down to fourth on the NCAA DI all-time women's scoring list when Clark (No. 1) and Dyaisha Fair (No. 3) passed her this year.

  • How to watch Caitlin Clark's WNBA preseason debut

    It’s almost time for the 2024 WNBA preseason to tip off! The short preseason begins this Friday, May 3 with Caitlin Clark’s new team, the Indiana Fever, facing off against the Dallas Wings. The preseason will come to a close on May 11, and the regular WNBA season tips off Tuesday, May 14, when Caitlin Clark will make her official WNBA season debut. But the high-profile Indiana Fever rookie won’t be the only exciting new face on the court. The Fever also heads into the 2024 season with reigning Rookie of the Year, Aliyah Boston.

    Are you ready to watch the 2024 WNBA preseason? Here’s everything you need to know about how to tune into preseason games, including Friday’s Indiana at Dallas match.

  • Diana Taurasi talks Caitlin Clark comments

    Diana Taurasi, 41, took heat last month when she said “reality is coming” for the league’s incoming rookies. Collegiate fans took it as a shot at Caitlin Clark, even though Taurasi didn’t use any names and interviewer Scott Van Pelt identified multiple players in his question.

    The 20-year veteran’s response when asked about the fan criticism was classic Taurasi.

    Read more on Taurasi's style and what new WNBA fans should expect here.

  • Caitlin Clark is ready to start her WNBA chapter

  • How the WNBA is preparing to capitalize on Caitlin Clark and the rest of the incoming star power

    CORRECTS TO CAITLIN CLARK NOT CAITLYN CLARK - LSU's Angel Reese, left, and Iowa's Caitlin Clark, right, pose for a photo before the WNBA basketball draft, Monday, April 15, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
    Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark at the WNBA Draft on May 15 in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

    Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese, Cameron Brink and Kamilla Cardoso are officially WNBA players.

    Now what?

    There has been no more pivotal moment for the WNBA than this one with ready-made household names entering a league that has struggled for much of its existence to build them. The only thing comparable would be its launch in 1997 with Olympic superstars. The task now is to keep the audience developed in the collegiate ranks as upward of 24 million watched Clark, the No. 1 overall pick of the Fever, and Cardoso, the No. 3 selection of the Sky, in the national championship game.

    It’s not only the Clark Effect, though she’s such a huge star her pregame for the draft was a cameo appearance on “Saturday Night Live.” Each time WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert stepped to the WNBA Draft podium at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on Monday, she announced another established star with hundreds of thousands of social followers.

    “This is my 1997 moment,” WNBA chief marketing officer Phil Cook told Yahoo Sports ahead of the draft. “You have household names coming in. You have an amazing league. The benefit I have is an amazing platform that’s been built for the last 27 years that they’re just walking over to.”

    Read the full story here.

  • The Caitlin Clark Effect: The No. 1 overall pick is primed to assist the Fever to new heights

    Indiana Fever players Aliyah Boston, left, and Caitlin Clark throw tee-shirts to fans during a time out during the first half between the Indiana Pacers and the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series, Friday, April 26, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
    Aliyah Boston and Caitlin Clark throw t-shirts to fans during a Pacers playoff game in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

    Caitlin Clark is accustomed to dropping 30-pieces and breaking scoring records. Her own point totals are not what has her excited about officially joining the Indiana Fever as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft.

    It’s the ones to come from Aliyah Boston, the Fever’s 2023 No. 1 overall pick whom Clark called “one of the best post players in the entire world.”

    “My point guard eyes just light up at that,” Clark said Monday night at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

    The general consensus from analysts, league evaluators and Clark herself is that the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer’s passing ability is what will quickly translate to the professional level. Boston, an analyst covering Iowa for the Big Ten Network this season, told a group of reporters the same hours before the draft.

    “Everyone talks about her shots and, obviously, not everyone can shoot from the logo,” the league’s reigning Rookie of the Year said. “But I think for me [it’s] her ability, one, to run the floor … but also to be able to make those passes to teammates [and] to find an open player.”

    It’s welcome news for the Fever after ranking 11th out of 12 teams in assists per game last season despite Boston dominating the paint and Kelsey Mitchell, one of the NCAA’s best scorers, lighting up the scoreboard. Clark is poised to ensure she can raise the level for Indiana, a team on the cusp of regular title contention.

    Read the full story here.

  • Caitlin Clark has some fun at the Fever's media day earlier this week

  • How will Caitlin Clark perform in her WNBA debut?