Electric performance by Reese lifts Sky past Fever

Sometimes it feels like this is Caitlin Clark's world and the rest of women's basketball is just living in it.

For Clark's first professional game in Chicago, Sky forward Angel Reese did her best to earn a share of the spotlight.

Reese delivered her best game of the season, piling up 25 points and 16 rebounds, while hitting 8 of 12 shots from the field. She hit the go-ahead bucket in the post with 53.2 seconds left and the Sky survived a flurry of missed free throws to pull out an 88-87 victory over Clark's Indiana Fever. The Sky trailed by 15 late in the third quarter.

Reese was beaming when she finally reached the interview room after the game.

“Both teams tonight did an amazing job putting on a show,” she said. “It was fun, I had a great time. I'm sure the other team had a great time. So I'm just happy we won tonight.”

The third WNBA matchup between Reese and Clark lived up to its billing. A sellout crowd of 9,872 at Wintrust Arena provided the Sky with probably the best atmosphere in team history, while tickets were selling for $300-400 on the secondary market in the hours before tipoff.

The game attracted a wide variety of celebrities, from Jalen Brunson to Chance the Rapper to actor Jason Sudeikis and Bears linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Rapper Lil Durk met with the Sky after the game.

When the game finally ended, Reese hurried to the seats to give WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes a bear hug. Swoopes got a huge ovation when shown on the video board during the game, but how many of those fans realize they could have seen her in action as head coach at Loyola from 2013-16?

“It was electric,” Reese said. “The energy in there was crazy. I couldn't hear sometimes. I had a great time today and I'm happy we won.”

Clark finished with 17 points, 13 assists and hit 5 of 9 attempts from 3-point range. She took just one shot, though, and didn't score during the final seven minutes. Typically, the Sky would send a second defender to get the ball out of her hands, and it never found its way back to her before the possession ended.

“I thought we kind of fell apart a little bit as a team,” Clark said. “The more you can stay together, especially in an environment like that. That's what they want to do to you.

“The crowd, they're obviously rooting for them, you can't let that bother you. You've got to stay connected as the five on the floor and I thought we definitely could have been a little bit better in that area.”

Reese, a 6-foot-3 forward, doesn't have much of a jump shot, but is quicker than most opposing bigs. She's had a tough task of learning how to finish and excel against taller, more athletic players in the WNBA. That's something she can't just practice in an empty gym.

Reese credited her work with player development coach David Simon as well as watching film for the improvement. And Indiana doesn't bring the best inside defense to the table. Reese and Kamilla Cardoso out-rebounded the entire Fever squad 26-25.

“I didn't have an offseason,” Reese said. “I came straight from college and I'm just trying to grow on the fly. Obviously, I'm still not where I want to be. There's shots I want to continue to get better at. I just have the great support here in Chicago that wants to help me.”

Reese completed the Sky's comeback with a put-back basket and 3-point play with 3:12 left. With a chance to take the lead, Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon didn't hesitate to go to the rookie, working against Indiana's NaLyssa Smith.

“She was on a roll, and we knew NaLyssa was in a little bit of foul trouble,” said Weatherspoon, who credited point guard Lindsay Allen with good timing on the assist. “We wanted to punch it in and let her go to work.”

The Sky (6-9) survived despite guard Marina Mabrey scoring just 6 points and shooting 1-for-10 from 3-point range. Chennedy Carter scored an efficient 23 points, while Cardoso had 16 points and 10 boards.

Some fans might appreciate that there were no flagrant fouls in Sky-Fever Part 3. Clark did hit the floor hard when Diamond DeShields tried to draw a charge near midcourt, but was called for a block. Three technicals were handed out, two to the Fever and one to Reese.

Clark got huge cheers during introductions and plenty of fans wore her jersey, but it was definitely a pro-Sky crowd.

“I'm sure there was an opportunity or two for me to probably attempt another shot there at the end,” Clark said. “I trust my teammates. Obviously 13 assists, that means my teammates scored off 13 of my passes. That's a really great number. So I'm going to give them the ball every time, I believe in them.”

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

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