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Stewart spoils Clark's home debut by leading Liberty to rout of Fever

Caitlin Clark Indiana Fever Caitlin Clark - The Canadian Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Breanna Stewart ruined Caitlin Clark's regular season home debut by scoring 31 points to lead the New York Liberty to a 102-66 win in front of a sellout crowd of 17,247 on Thursday night.

In Indianapolis' most anticipated rookie debut since Peyton Manning in 1998, Clark did not deliver the expected performance. For the second straight game, she struggled with foul trouble. The rookie finished with nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and three turnovers, none after the first quarter — a dramatic improvement over the 10 she had Tuesday night.

Clark also was 2 of 8 from the field and just 1 of 7 on 3-pointers.

Sabrina Ionescu and Jonquel Jones each scored 14 for New York, which has won eight straight over Indiana. Jones also had 10 rebounds.

Aliyah Boston had a game-high 12 points and 10 rebounds for Indiana.

The Liberty didn't just make life difficult for Clark, they made things tough for Indiana.

Stewart helped New York seize control by taking a 25-16 lead after one quarter. And when the Fever cut the deficit to 32-27 midway through the second quarter, Stewart answered with four straight points to spur a 12-0 run that gave the Liberty a 44-27 cushion late in the first half.

Indiana finally responded by closing the third quarter with 12 straight points, the first seven coming courtesy of Clark, to make it 67-56 after three.

But the defending Eastern Conference champs opened the fourth quarter on a 12-0 spurt and cruised to their second straight victory.


Indianapolis is quickly becoming a favorite destination for Clark's former teammates and coaches. Ex-Hawkeyes guard Gabbie Marshall showed up and posed for a photo with her longtime friend following Clark's first home preseason game last week.

On Thursday, the entourage included former coach, Lisa Bluder, who announced her retirement Monday, and new Hawkeyes coach, Jan Jensen — Bluder's longtime assistant.


The Fever and Liberty head back to New York on Saturday for a rematch.