Caitlin Clark trying to stay ‘positive’ as Fever fall to 0-5



SEATTLE — After her Indiana Fever lost 85-83 to the Seattle Storm on Wednesday to fall to 0-5 this season, No. 1 overall pick Caitlin Clark said she’s “trying to be as positive as possible” about the progress Indiana has made despite it not yet translating into the win column.

“You’re never happy to lose,” Clark said. “It’s not fun, but at the same time there’s just a lot of things to build on. I’m just trying to be as positive as possible, continue to learn, continue to stack days. I know that first win will be right around the corner.”

Following double-digit losses in the Fever’s first three games, this was the second consecutive one they had an opportunity to win down the stretch. A wild final minute saw Clark commit a turnover — just her second of the night after averaging 6.5 in the season’s first four games — and have a 3-pointer blocked, though she thought she was fouled.

Still, after Indiana successfully challenged a pass that went out of bounds and was originally ruled a jump ball, the Fever took possession down one with 11 seconds remaining and a chance to win. Kristy Wallace’s inbound pass to Clark was a bit behind her, and Clark could only shovel the ball to teammate Aliyah Boston, who got tied up and tipped the ensuing jump ball out of bounds.

Boston’s heave from half court at the buzzer was off, giving the Storm the win.

“Probably the longest minute of a basketball game I’ve been a part of in a long time,” Clark said of a stretch that featured a pair of reviews and took more than 20 minutes of real time to play. “We definitely gave ourselves a chance, but at the same time there were some little things that we shot ourselves in the foot.”

With 21 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists, Clark had her best all-around game thus far in the WNBA. She started slowly, with five points on 2-of-9 shooting in the first half, before catching fire after halftime. In a stretch of 1:17 late in the third quarter, going up primarily against fellow rookie Nika Muhl in a rematch of their clash in the NCAA Final Four last month, Clark had six points and an assist as Indiana took the lead.

Clark smiled postgame when asked whether that run, highlighted by a behind-the-back dribble into a pull-up 3-pointer in transition, was a case where “the Iowa Caitlin came out.”

“It’s a process of getting there to be able to do that the whole game and trying to navigate that with my teammates,” she said. “It’s still a process of learning when to be assertive. Sometimes it’s hard when you start off cold.

“For sure, I think that’s when I’m at my best, is being a little bit more aggressive and creating my shot. I was able to create a couple of 3s there that kind of got me going. I was able to find Temi [Fagbenle] running the floor a few times. I think the more I can play with more pace, that’s when I’m definitely more successful.”

Those shots thrilled a sellout crowd listed at 18,343, the largest in Seattle franchise history and the most in a regular-season WNBA game since 2018, according to the Storm. But so did a season-high 32 points from reigning league scoring champ Jewell Loyd, who joined Breanna Stewart as the second player in Storm history with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists in a game according to ESPN Stats & Information.

“It’s pretty incredible,” Clark said. “That crowd and that environment was great. Just looking around — a sea of people on both sides and behind the basket. It was a great game. Obviously I would have loved if we would have won.”

On the heels of a four-point loss Monday at home against Connecticut, the close finish against a veteran Seattle team was another sign of progress for Indiana. That’s what Clark is hoping to take away from the frustration of losing.

“These two definitely hurt the most,” she said. “We’re, what, six points away from being 2-3 instead of 0-5? It’s that close. There’s so many instances of going back and watching the film of like little things that you can easily fix and clean up that would go a really long way, and possibly it wouldn’t even come down to one possession.

“I think you have to find confidence in that, especially at this point, being 0-5. If you just get upset by it, I don’t think that’s going to be too beneficial for us.”