How many points did Caitlin Clark score? Rookie nears triple-double in win vs. Mercury (2024)

PHOENIX — Sunday’s matchup between the Phoenix Mercury and the Indiana Fever, the first between Diana Taurasi and Caitlin Clark, was billed as “The G.O.A.T vs. The Rook.” And the rookie got the first W.

The Fever defeated the Mercury 88-82 on Sunday at Footprint Center in Phoenix, handing the Mercury their third home loss of the season. Clark was one rebound shy of her first career triple-double, finishing with 15 points (4-for-14, including 2-for-10 from 3-point range), 12 assists and nine rebounds.She played all but 33 seconds in the win, despite feeling ill.

"She didn't feel well throughout the entire game," Indiana head coach Christie Sides revealed after the game.

How many points did Caitlin Clark score? Rookie nears triple-double in win vs. Mercury (1)

Anticipation for the matchup started building in early April before Clark even entered the league after Taurasi said “reality is coming” for all the incoming rookies, including Clark. Although Taurasi explained that she was merely speaking to the difficulty of jumping from college to the pros — one she navigated herself — some deemed her comments as a jab toward Clark.

The tension was instantly visible on the court. Five technical fouls and a Flagrant 1 foul were called in the first half alone. Another Flagrant 1 foul was called before the game ended.

Things got particularly chippy with 4:48 remaining in the second quarter. Both teams appeared to huddle right next to each other after a foul was called on the Mercury’s Natasha Mack. A bunch of hand-checking and pushing ensued, leading to both teams having to be separated. Offsetting technical fouls were called against Indiana's Erica Wheeler and Temi fa*gbenle and the Mercury's Kahleah Copper and Natasha Cloud.

Amid the chaos and subsequent review of the play, Clark, 22, and Taurasi, who turned 42 in June, gathered at half court and shared a friendly exchange. Clark and Taurasi paid mutual respect to each other, even sharing an embrace before tipoff, despite online discourse pitting veterans against rookies.

"(Taurasi) was probably one of the first women’s basketball players that I grew up idolizing and really knowing," Clark said ahead of the game. "I just admired the way she played the game and the fire that she played with. It’s impressive that she’s still able to play this game at such a high level and produce like she does."

"It's amazing what Caitlin's been able to do in her short career so far. It's been nothing short of remarkable," said Taurasi, who finished with 19 points, three rebounds and three steals. "The one thing I really love about her is that she loves that game. You can tell she puts the work in. ... It's been a lot of pressure and a lot of things thrown at her and she keeps showing up and keeps getting better every single game. Her future is super bright."

Taurasi added: "Being a veteran and being in this league a long, long time, it's pretty cool to see that."

The Mercury had an 11-point lead at halftime, but the Fever went on a 27-2 run in the third quarter, spurred by the Fever's Kelsey Mitchell. Mitchell played a little more than five minutes in the first half and was held scoreless, but she exploded for nine points in the third quarter, all coming from beyond the arc.

Mitchell picked up where she left off in the fourth quarter. She hit a jumper to take the lead, 83-82, with 36.1 seconds remaining in the game. Clark knocked down two free throws with 19.9 left to extend the Fever’s lead to three, 85-82. Indiana's Erica Wheeler stole the ball from the Mercury's Brittney Griner on the next possession and Mitchell iced the game with two more free throws. Mitchell finished with 16 points, all scored in the second half.

When asked why Mitchell was limited in the first half, Sides simply said it was a "decision that was made." But once she turned Mitchell loose, Sides said, "Kelsey came back ... and killed it. She hit some really big shots and played some really good defense."

The Fever outscored the Mercury 50-33 in the second half and out-rebounded the Mercury 42-28 across the entire game.

Indiana had five players in double digits. In addition to Clark and Mitchell, Aliyah Boston had 17 points and eight rebounds and NaLyssa Smith had a double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds. fa*gbenle, who is playing through a right thumb injury, had 10 points.

Griner had a team-high 24 points, six rebounds and a block in the Mercury's loss. Cloud, who was called with a Flagrant 1 foul against on Indiana's Katie Lou Samuelson, added 15 points.

How many points did Caitlin Clark score? Rookie nears triple-double in win vs. Mercury (2024)
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