After beating Sky a second time, Clark endorses rivalry with Reese

If Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese becomes the Bird and Magic of the WNBA, that's obviously good for the league.

Clark took Round 2 on Sunday, leading the Indiana Fever past the Sky 91-83 before a crowd of 17,274 in Indianapolis. The rivalry shifts to Chicago for the first time next Sunday.

Clark had one of the better all-around performances of her pro career, finishing with 23 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds on an efficient 7-of-11 shooting. Reese was her usual self with 11 points and 13 rebounds, for her sixth-consecutive double-double.

Also, for the second time in as many meetings, the Sky was called for a flagrant foul against Clark. This time it was on Reese, who took a swipe at trying to block a shot as Clark drove for a layup and hit the former Iowa star in the head instead.

Reese was defensive when asked about the play. There was a rousing negative reaction when Sky guard Chennedy Carter committed a hard foul against Clark in the first meeting between these teams two weeks ago.

“Basketball play,” Reese told reporters in the interview room. “I can't control the refs. They obviously affected the game a lot tonight. You all going to play that clip, go ahead.”

Clark shrugged off the foul as something that happens often on the basketball court.

“What's going through my mind is I need to make these 2 free throws, that's all I'm thinking about,” Clark said. “It's just a part of basketball. It is what it is. She's trying to make a play on the ball and get the block. It happens.”

Reese and Clark first played against each other during summer AAU while they were in high school, then met three times in the Big Ten when Reese played at Maryland, including the 2021 conference tournament title game.

But everyone remembers the 2023 national championship when Reese's LSU squad beat Iowa. Clark won the rematch this year in the NCAA regional final.

Asked about the rivalry after Sunday's game, Clark had plenty of nice things to say about Reese.

“I think it's just the emotion and the passion we play with,” Clark said. “I think people love to see that. I think that's maybe not something that was always appreciated in women's sports, and it should be.

“That's what makes it fun. We're competitors. That's the way the game should be. It's going to get a little feisty, it's going to get physical. But at the end of the day, both teams are just trying to win.”

Maybe someday, Reese and Clark will be battling for WNBA titles. For now, this was the 5-10 Fever moving into a virtual tie for eighth place with the 4-9 Sky, which lost its fourth in a row.

Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon tried mixing the starting lineup, adding Carter and veteran guard Lindsay Allen for the first time, while Dana Evans and Diamond DeShields came off the bench.

The changes seemed to help the Sky get off to a better start than they have lately. Ultimately, the Sky has limited scoring options and needs points from Carter, Evans and Marina Mabrey in every game. That part went fairly well as Mabrey scored 22 points, Carter 18 and Evans 12, while going 3-for-5 from 3-point range.

There were complaints about the Sky not getting foul calls during postgame interviews, from both Reese and Weatherspoon.

“Sometimes the whistle just doesn't go your way,” Weatherspoon said. “Tonight I thought they played their butts off down there (in the paint). Wish we could have got some calls.”

The Sky tried to make a late comeback after falling behind by 8, but didn't execute very well when it had chances to get back in it.

“Obviously, we're a super-new team and that's not an excuse, but there's some growing pains,” Mabrey said. “Executing down the stretch what coach draws up. Just being able to lock in on the (clip) board and go from board to court, if I could pick one thing, (that) would be important.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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