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Connecticut Sun hold on to keep Caitlin Clark, Indiana Fever winless

Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) drives into Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) in the third quarter of play during the WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and the Indiana Fever on May 20, 2024 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.
Jeffrey Brown / Icon Sportswire
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Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) drives into Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) in the third quarter of play during the WNBA game between the Connecticut Sun and the Indiana Fever on May 20, 2024 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Fever star Caitlin Clark showed her persistence Monday night.

She fought through an injured left ankle, foul trouble, even the frustration that led to an uncharacteristic late technical foul to get her team position for its first win.

Then she lamented what the Fever could not finish.

Tyasha Harris scored 13 of Connecticut’s final 18 points Monday night, including two free throws with 10.9 seconds left and the game tied, to give the Connecticut Sun an 88-84 victory over still winless Indiana.

“I think you could see the progress we’re making and that’s why this one hurts a lot. We were right there and we had plenty of opportunities to go win the game and you don’t,” Clark said. “We’ve played the top teams in the league and we were right there with the Sun today.”

Indiana’s brutal schedule already has included two games against last season’s WNBA runner-up, the New York Liberty, and two more against the Sun, who had the league’s third-best record last season.

The result has been a predictably difficult learning curve — four straight losses, the first three by double digits — for a young team led by the league’s newest star, who played in front of yet another announced sellout Monday night.

And when Clark crumpled to the floor with 5:37 left in the first half, grabbing at her lower left leg and grimacing in pain until the game was stopped a few moments later, the Fever’s chances looked lost yet again.

But after limping directly into the tunnel near the team bench, retaping her ankle and going through halftime warmups with her teammates, Clark was back — and looked more like the two-time national college player of the year during the final quarter than she had during the first 15 quarters of her pro career.

Clark finished with 17 points and five assists, all in the final 10 minutes, while making 5-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers, including a go-ahead 3 from the Gainbridge Fieldhouse logo that gave Indiana a 70-68 with 7:15 to go and brought the crowd to its feet.

“That was a big shot,” she said. “We got the crowd going. I mean, that crowd was incredible.”

But on a night Alyssa Thomas fell just short of a second triple-double against Indiana this season — 24 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists — and Harris had 16 points, three 3s and the decisive scoring flurry, Indiana’s miscues were just too costly.

With Indiana clinging to a 76-75 lead with 3:37 to play, Clark turned the ball over and drew her fifth foul when she tried to fight for the ball. She was called for a technical, too, when she shouted at the refs in frustration and the Sun took full advantage.

Connecticut tied the score when DaWanna Bonner made one of two free throws, took the lead 46 seconds later on Harris’ three-point play, made it 82-78 on Harris’ 3 with 2:04 to go and broke an 84-84 tie with two more free throws from Harris.

Indiana had a chance to tie the score but, Aliyah Boston missed a layup in the waning seconds and Thomas closed it out with two free throws.

Bonner had 22 points and DiJonai Carrington scored 13 for the Sun.

Kelsey Mitchell matched Clark’s numbers with 17 points and five assists, while Nalyssa Smith scored 13 and Temi Fagbenle added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Boston scored 10.

“This is what you expect from a young team, a lot of growing pains early on, a lot of ups and downs,” Thomas said. “But they have to be proud of how they responded with a hard schedule to start the season. They did a great job today.”

UP NEXT

Sun: Head home Thursday to face Minnesota.

Fever: Begin a three-game West Coast swing Wednesday at Seattle.

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