Angel Reese dominates as Sky top Fever, Caitlin Clark (2024)

Angel Reese dominates as Sky top Fever, Caitlin Clark (1)

By Sabreena Merchant and Ben Pickman

Jun 23, 2024

Angel Reese established early post position on the right block of the Chicago Sky’s offensive possession with just under a minute to play in regulation. The Sky and Indiana Fever were tied at 84 apiece. Coming out of a timeout, Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon diagramed a play for her star rookie forward. Reese remained calm, took a hard dribble right, collected herself and attempted a jump hook just outside the restricted area.

She made it, putting the Sky up by two. It was a lead Chicago wouldn’t relinquish.

Reese finished the Sky’s 88-87 victory with a career-high 25 points. She added 16 rebounds, recording her eighth consecutive double-double and becoming the first rookie since A’ja Wilson in 2018 to have at least 25 points and 15 rebounds in a game. Reese was key as Chicago erased a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit. The Sky trailed by 12 with 6:38 to play, but Reese scored 10 points from that point on, including the go-ahead basket with 53.2 seconds to play.

Angel Reese. 25 points, 16 rebounds, but most importantly a Win.

Make sure the apology is just as loud as the disrespect 🤭

— Brianna Turner (@_Breezy_Briii) June 23, 2024

The Sky and Fever have matched up three times over the last three weeks. Each time, the contest came down to the final minute. On Sunday, for the first time, Chicago emerged victorious.

“I’m a dog,” Reese said afterward on the ESPN broadcast. “You can’t teach that. I’m gonna go do whatever it takes to win every single night.”

Sky guard Chennedy Carter added 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting as Chicago’s win jumped it ahead of Indiana in the league standings. The Fever were led by guard Kelsey Mitchell, who finished with 24 points. Indiana center Aliyah Boston had 18 points and seven rebounds, while rookie guard Caitlin Clark recorded double-digit assists for the first time in her career, ending the loss with 13 assists and 17 points.

Here are three takeaways from the Sky’s win:

Reese most comfortable third time facing Fever

Another game, another double-double for Reese, who already set the rookie WNBA record for consecutive double-doubles (seven) entering Thursday. Reese’s career-high 25-point, 16-rebound performance was especially impressive in that it was her most efficient outing yet against the Fever. Though she averaged 9.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in their first two matchups with Indiana, Reese shot only 27.3 percent in those games, tied for her lowest against any opponent she has played this year.

Sheryl Swoopes embraces Angel Reese after her career-high performance and epic win against the Fever 🙌#WelcometotheW pic.twitter.com/fiZfrnDTKR

— WNBA (@WNBA) June 23, 2024

On Sunday, Reese looked more comfortable going up against the Fever’s frontcourt. She made both of her field goal attempts in the first quarter and shot 66.7 percent from the field overall, her second-most efficient outing of the year. Reese continuously ran the floor and established early post position as a result. She also was confident attacking Indiana’s NaLyssa Smith off the dribble. Overall, Reese has looked more comfortable around the rim in recent games.

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Though she entered Sunday’s contest shooting only 39 percent from the field around the rim this season, according to Synergy Sports, she had shot 70 percent or higher in two of her last four games before her career outing against Indiana. Her energy (and production) was also contagious as it fueled Chicago’s late surge. — Ben Pickman, women’s basketball staff writer

Clark puts on a passing showcase

The theory when Clark was drafted first overall was that even if it took her a while to score at the professional level, her passing would translate right away. Lo and behold, 18 games into her WNBA career, Clark set the Fever single-game assist record with 13. Only Alyssa Thomas has had more helpers (14) in one game this season.

At the heart of Clark’s playmaking prowess was her connection with Boston. Clark assisted Boston seven times, as they navigated a variety of screen coverages from the Sky. Clark would have had more dimes in her box score had her hit-ahead passes been more successful, but her control in the half court was enough to help Indiana build a 15-point lead in the third quarter.

The problem for the Fever was that Clark had zero assists in the final period. Indiana went away from the spread pick-and-roll, dumping the ball inside and featuring their frontcourt players. On the final offensive possession, the Fever ran a two-player action with Clark and Boston. As two defenders converged on Clark, she hit Boston out of the trap, and Boston had a jumper for the win. But Reese, the player of the game, got just enough pressure on Boston to force the shot awry.

Nevertheless, the first double-digit assist outing for Clark’s career bodes well for her future as Indiana’s lead guard. The Fever should have worked harder to get her the ball down the stretch. — Sabreena Merchant, women’s basketball staff writer

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The rivalry lives on

Both teams were unwilling to call this matchup a rivalry despite the intensity of the first two matchups. However, with Reese and Clark continuing to improve throughout the rookie seasons, and both performing on this specific stage, the drama continues to deliver.

In addition to the interest in the two collegiate rivals, the battles between Reese and Smith as well as former South Carolina teammates Boston and Kamilla Cardoso are also becoming must-see television. Reese and Smith, who each played collegiately for Kim Mulkey, jawed at each other throughout the afternoon, earning double technicals in the fourth quarter on Reese’s game-tying and-one with 3:12 to play. Boston and Cardoso competed in the paint and on the glass.

The game came down to the thinnest of margins yet again and it could draw record viewership numbers for the second consecutive week after last weekend’s matchup averaged 2.25 million viewers and was the most-watched WNBA game in 23 years. These two young teams are only just discovering their identities, but they already know how to put on a show, especially against one another.

Mark your calendars for the final meeting of the regular season on Friday, Aug. 30. — Merchant

Required reading

  • Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese providing fuel for a long-standing WNBA rivalry
  • Is there a better WNBA rivalry than Caitlin Clark versus Angel Reese? Our experts debate
  • WNBA rookie rankings: How will the Sparks move forward after Cameron Brink’s injury?

(Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski / USA Today)

Angel Reese dominates as Sky top Fever, Caitlin Clark (2024)
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