Smith, Fever defeat Dream 83-80

 
Indiana Fever forward NaLyssa Smith (1) poses during WNBA basketball team’s media day in Indianapolis, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

 

Caitlin Clark and NaLyssa Smith shine in the most-attended Fever game ever

 
by NORAL PARHAM, The Indianapolis Recorder
 
The Indiana Fever, in their only preseason game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse this season, did not disappoint, overcoming a double-digit deficit to defeat the Atlanta Dream 80-83 on May 9.

 

Approximately 13,028 fans gathered in Downtown Indianapolis, making it the most-attended Fever home game in the franchise’s history. The previous record belonged to a game 24 years ago in May 2000, the franchise’s first-ever home game, bringing in 9,024 people.

Young fans draped in Indiana Fever rookie Caitlin Clark jerseys and t-shirts, appeared to see the NCAA all-time leading scorer get her first bucket in Gainbridge. Luckily, it would not take long for Clark to do so, notching a swift layup much to those same fans’ satisfaction.

Clark spoke about the fans at Gainbridge following the contest.

More Fever news: Indiana Fever draft Clark with No. 1 overall pick

Fans hold up signs before an WNBA preseason basketball game between the Indiana Fever and the Atlanta Dream, Thursday, May 9, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings). Photo used for story on Atlanta Dream versus Indiana Fever preseason game on May 9, 2024 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
Fans hold up signs before an WNBA preseason basketball game between the Indiana Fever and the Atlanta Dream, Thursday, May 9, 2024, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

“This is a preseason game on a Thursday night and there are 13,000 people here. I think that shows what it is going to be like for us all season.” Clark said. “It is incredible. 13,000 fans at a preseason game is pretty unheard of.”

The Fever could not find their footing early in the contest, trailing 30-24 at the end of the first quarter. Atlanta Dream guard Allisha Gray did not miss in the first frame, tallying six points, including a well-contested three-pointer. Veteran Atlanta Dream forward Cheyenne Parker-Tyus, currently in her ninth season, amassed seven points on 100% shooting.

Indiana Fever forward NaLyssa Smith was efficient early, putting up five points and two rebounds. One of the biggest highlights for Smith came when she, guarded by Parker-Tyus, performed a behind-the-back dribble, ultimately sending the defender to the floor. Smith finished the possession with a layup, triggering the audience into a tizzy.

(Media/Indiana Fever via Twitter)

Following the contest, Smith was asked if Clark helps expand her game. 

More news: Indiana Fever to have 36 nationally-televised games this season

“H**l yeah, it has been great,” Smith said. “A lot of people are going to focus on [Clark], so that gives us an opportunity to show that everybody can score the ball. We have a lot more years together.”

Despite the team trailing by 15 points in the first half, Indiana Fever rookie guard Celeste Taylor managed to reduce the deficit with a buzzer-beating push shot in the paint, catching back up to the Dream 49-48 before heading into the locker room for halftime.

Indiana Fever head coach Christie Sides, a former assistant coach for the Atlanta Dream, shared her feelings of her team’s lack of defense in the first half.

“I did not like the fact that we gave up 45 points in the first fifteen minutes of the gameThat was like transition defense,” Sides said after the game. “We gave up like 15 or 18 [points] in transition …, It just can’t happen.”

Sides must have preached similar sentiments to her team at halftime, as Indiana played sound basketball in the second half, limiting the Dream to 31 points. Much of this attributes to Atlanta’s poor shooting, making less than 29% of their shots in the second half. The Fever scored 38 points in the paint versus Atlanta’s 28. 

Clark and company continued with an assertive defensive performance, sending back eleven shots. Four of those blocks came from reigning Rookie of the Year Indiana Fever forward Aliyah Boston, including a chase-down block on former University of South Carolina teammate Gray.

Smith finished the contest with 21 points and six rebounds, leading all scorers. Clark amassed twelve points and six assists while Boston put up eleven points and four rebounds. Taylor notched six points and two blocks off the bench.

With the preseason officially wrapped up, the Fever open the regular season against the Sun in Connecticut on May 14. They will play their first home game of the 2024 WNBA regular season against the New York Liberty on May 16 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

For Indiana Fever tickets, click here.


Contact multi-media & senior sports reporter Noral Parham III at (317)-762-7846 or via email at noralp@indyrecorder.com. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral. For more news similar to the Indiana Fever versus Atlanta Dream preseason matchup, visit our Fever archive here.

This story originally appeared in the Indianapolis Recorder. 

 

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