Sun vs. Fever score, takeaways: Caitlin Clark struggles as Connecticut dominates

Tuesday night’s WNBA season opener between the Indiana Fever and Connecticut Sun was supposed to be the Caitlin Clark show, but Alyssa Thomas and Co. had other ideas. The veteran Sun frustrated Clark all night long en route to a 92-71 win.

Thomas picked up right where she left off last season by doing a little bit of everything for the Sun. She finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 13 assists for her ninth career triple-double, which extends her all-time record. DeWanna Bonner, meanwhile, had 20 points and moved into fifth place on the all-time scoring list in the process.

Clark got off to a terrible start, as she struggled to adjust to the Sun’s extreme defensive pressure and dealt with early foul trouble. Though she eventually settled down and started hitting some shots in the second half, she turned the ball over 10 times, which set a new franchise record and were the most in a debut all-time. All told, she finished with 20 points and three assists on 5-of-15 from the field.

Here are some key takeaways from the game:

Thomas gets another triple-double

Alyssa Thomas set a single-season record in 2023 with seven triple-doubles, and she appears intent on besting that mark this summer. She only took eight shots, but finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds, 13 assists and three steals for her first triple-double of the season.

Thomas now has nine career triple-doubles (plus another three in the postseason), which is by far the all-time record. Sabrina Ionescu is in second place with four, and no one else has more than two. In fact, every other player in WNBA history has a combined 21 triple-doubles, giving Thomas 30% of the triple-doubles ever recorded.

In case any doubts developed over the offseason, Thomas is still capable of putting the Sun on her back and leading them in every category besides scoring. As long as Thomas is out there, the Sun will be a formidable team.

Clark gets welcomed to the league

Caitlin Clark set another record in her debut — just not one she wanted. Her 10 turnovers Tuesday were the most in a debut all-time, set a Fever franchise record and were tied for the eighth-most ever in a game. If anyone ever asks Clark about her “welcome to the league” moment, this game was it.

Within the first five minutes of her career, Clark missed her first three shots, turned the ball over and picked up two fouls. DiJonai Carrington was hounding her all over the court, and the Sun were sending multiple defenders her way at every opportunity. While Clark has dealt with that approach before, she’d never faced a team as long, athletic and physical as the Sun.

If there’s a silver lining in this outing for Clark, it’s that she won’t face many tougher tests all season long. The Sun are one of the best defensive teams in the league, with a unique array of defenders suited to bothering Clark. And that doesn’t even take into account the opening night emotions and intensity.

This was a disappointing debut for Clark, but it was not cause for long-term concern.

Bonner makes history

DeWanna Bonner is one of the most underrated players in the league, and she’s still going strong in her 15th season. She poured in another 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting and grabbed six rebounds in 28 minutes to lead the Sun in scoring, just as she did last season, when she put up 17.4 points per game.

The most consequential of those baskets came in the middle of the third quarter, when she ran the fastbreak with Thomas and converted a tough layup. Not only did those points push the Sun’s lead back to double figures, but they also moved Bonner into fifth place on the all-time scoring list.

Bonner surpassed her ex-wife Candice Dupree and now has 6,901 career points. The only players with more are Diana Taurasi, Tina Thompson, Tamika Catchings and Tina Charles. Bonner is 214 points behind Charles for fourth place, but the former MVP made a surprise return to the league this season, so it’s unlikely Bonner will move up any more spots this summer.

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