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Cardoso debuts, Reese vs Clark rivalry reignited in Fever’s 71-70 win over Chicago

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During college, Angel Reese and Caitlin Clark had many run-ins during games and even in postgame interviews. Now, both are in the WNBA and the vendetta looks like it will continue.

More than 17,000 fans filled Gainbridge Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis to witness the Indiana Fever take on the Chicago Sky on June 1, ultimately coming down to the wire in a 71-70 victory for the home team.

Following the win, Fever forward NaLyssa Smith, who finished with 17 points and nine rebounds, spoke about the team’s mentality.

“We come out to compete every night,” Smith said. “We go into every game with the same mentality and that is to win the game.”

Indiana Fever versus Phoenix Mercury, NaLyssa Smith
Indiana Fever forward NaLyssa Smith (1) during a game in 2023. (Photo/David Dixon)

The game was also the first Commissioner’s Cup game of the season for both teams.

The Commissioner’s Cup is an annual in-season competition where the top team from each conference competes for a $500,000 prize pool. For every game won, teams get $2,000 for their chosen charity and $500 for every game lost. Additionally, the Commissioner’s Cup winner gets a $10,000 league donation to their charity, and the runner-up receives $5,000.

With a 1-1 record in Commissioner’s Cup play, the Indiana Fever has raised $2,500 for the Indiana Black Expo, according to the WNBA’s leaderboard.

The championship contest is slated for June 25 at the team’s arena with the best record in Cup play. Coinbase, the official sponsor of the Commissioner’s Cup, has committed an additional $120,000 in cryptocurrency, supplying $5,000 for each player in the championship match.

More news: Fever get first 2024 regular season win

Kamilla Cardoso, another player who had incidents with Reese during their collegiate career and is now her teammate, also made her regular season debut after missing six games with a shoulder injury.

When asked about her official WNBA debut, Cardoso said it was a good feeling.

“II was excited to be out there with my teammates,” Cardoso said.

Cardoso, who played with Fever center Aliyah Boston at University of South Carolina under head coach Dawn Staley matched up against her collegiate teammate for the first time in the WNBA.

“Me and Aliyah played together for four years, and I was excited to go against her.”

Kamilla Cardoso during her first regular season WNBA Game.
Chicago Sky center Kamilla Cardoso (10) reacts to teammates on the bench during a WNBA basketball game against the Indiana Fever Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Sky head coach Teresa Witherspoon praised Cardoso following her debut.

“She played great,” Witherspoon said. “She has been playing like this her entire life.”

Cardoso finished the contest with 11 points and six rebounds.

Sky guard Chennedy Carter, tasked with guarding Clark for most of the matchup, made it clear that she did not want to speak about her opponent.

When asked about a rough sequence in the third quarter, which appeared to be a hard foul on Clark executed by Carter, the Sky guard did not have much to say.

More sports: Fever defeat Dream in preseason matchup

“I am not answering (any) Caitlin Clark questions,” Carter said.

Carter’s failure to answer questions about impactful moments between her and Clark, combined with Sky forward Angel Reese not making herself available for interviews following the matchup, yielded a $5,000 fine for the Chicago Sky front office due to violating WNBA media availability policies.

However, following the interview, Carter took to social media to provide some insight on how she feels about the Fever rookie.

“Besides three-point shooting, what does [Clark] bring to the table,” Carter asked a fan on her official Threads account.

Carter finished the game with a game-high 19 points and six assists.

Chennedy Carter driving the lane during a WNBA game.
Chicago Sky guard Chennedy Carter (7) makes a move around the defense of Indiana Fever guard Erica Wheeler (17) during a WNBA basketball game Saturday, June 1, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)

Clark was also asked about the rough play orchestrated by Carter, and she said she wasn’t anticipating the move.

“I am at the point where you accept it and don’t retaliate,” Clark said. “Don’t let them get in your head. I know I am going to take a couple of hard shots a game, and that is what it is. I’m trying not to let it bother me. I am just trying to stay in the game and focus on my team.”

Clark ended the game with 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Clark also amassed five turnovers in the contest.

The WNBA announced that they retroactively upgraded Carter’s foul on Clark from a common foul to a flagrant I foul but will not face a fine or suspension.

The Chicago Sky will match up with the Indiana Fever three more times this season, with the next game happening at noon on June 16 at Wintrust Arena. Those interested in securing tickets can visit Feverbasketball.com/tickets.

Contact multi-media & senior sports reporter Noral Parham III at 317-762-7846. Follow him on X @3Noral.

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