Caitlin Clark WNBA debut stats: How DiJonai Carrington, Connecticut shut down Fever rookie

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Dijonai Carrington guards Caitlin Clark
(NBAE via Getty Images)

It didn't take long for Caitlin Clark to receive her "welcome to the WNBA" moment. Just one game, to be exact.

Four weeks after hearing her name called first at the 2024 WNBA Draft, Clark made her highly anticipated debut as the Indiana Fever traveled to face the Connecticut Sun. The 22-year-old was met with one of the toughest challenges of her basketball career.

Smothered by the defense of Connecticut guard DiJonai Carrington, Clark stumbled out the gate with seven points on 2-of-7 shooting in the first half. In addition to the shooting woes, Clark committed five turnovers and dished out just one assist.

Clark finished with 20 points (on 5-of-15 shooting), three assists, two steals but committed 10 turnovers in a 92-71 loss to the Sun. Here's how Connecticut's defense limited the phenom.

MORE: Predictions for the 2024 WNBA season

How Connecticut Sun shut down Caitlin Clark in WNBA debut

Clark's night started on the wrong foot as she picked up two fouls less than five minutes into the first quarter. She briefly remained in the game before getting subbed out 20 seconds later.

Adjusting to the whistle also meant Clark would deal with a defensive physicality she rarely saw at the collegiate level. Carrington, a four-year veteran, deserves credit for making life difficult for the rookie.

During the first half, ESPN compiled clips of Carrington's on-ball pressure, off-ball denials and overall coverage that limited Clark's productivity.

It doesn't help that Connecticut is a team known for its stingy defense. Last season, the Sun's defense ranked second in the league behind only the defending champion Aces.

After Carrington briefly exited with apparent leg cramps, Clark had the pleasure of being guarded by 2023 Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Alyssa Thomas.

The biggest stain on Clark's debut is her 10 turnovers — she becomes the 13th player in the league's 28-year history to commit 10 or more turnovers in a game.

Despite the physical coverages and turnover woes, Clark did manage to find some semblance of a groove in the second half, adding 13 points to finish with 20 points in the game.

MORE: WNBA power rankings at the start of the 2024 season

Caitlin Clark stats vs. Connecticut Sun

  • 20 points
  • 3 assists
  • 2 steals
  • 10 turnovers
  • 4 fouls
  • 5-of-15 (33.3 percent) field goal shooting
  • 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) 3-point shooting
  • 6-of-6 (100.0 percent) free throw shooting

STREAM: Watch the biggest games of the WNBA season on Sling

Indiana Fever schedule 2024

It doesn't get much easier for Clark and the Fever, who are set for a home-and-home series with the runner-up from last year's WNBA Finals before another meeting with the Sun. Here is a look at Indiana's next five games:

DateOpponentTime (ET)Network
May 16vs. New York Liberty7 p.m.Prime Video
May 18at New York Liberty1 p.m.ABC
May 20vs. Connecticut Sun7 p.m.ESPN
May 22at Seattle Storm10 p.m.Prime Video
May 24at Los Angeles Sparks10 p.m.ION
Author(s)
Gilbert McGregor Photo

Gilbert McGregor is an NBA content producer for The Sporting News.