Caitlin Clark scored 13,000 points in his preseason home debut as Indiana Fever won 83-80

More than 13,000 fans were in attendance as Caitlin Clark made her preseason home debut in an 83-80 win for the Indiana Fever over the Atlanta Dream on Thursday.

The atmosphere at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis belied the minor nature of a preseason game, with the crowd cheering loudly when Clark made her first home bucket on a driving layup in the first half.

Clark finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists, but had a tough shooting night, going 4-of-12 from the field and 2-of-9 from deep.

“I don’t think I was that effective, to be honest,” Clark told reporters after the game. “I mainly thought that I could pass the ball very well and find my teammates.

“I think I was in the paint, obviously I would have liked to make a few more threes, but sometimes that’s how you shoot it.

“We really responded after having a slow start. Obviously we don’t want a slow start, but it’s good to see that we can respond, take back the lead and extend it to the end.”

NaLyssa Smith led the way for the Fever, scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds, as Indiana came back from a 15-point deficit in the second quarter to take the lead with 4:57 to go in the third and never looked back.

Clark, the No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA draft, had a historic NCAA season with the Iowa Hawkeyes and is at the forefront of a new wave of interest in women’s basketball.

The Clark Effect was in full swing with Thursday’s official attendance of 13,028, a new franchise record for the preseason and about three times more than the Fever’s average home attendance last season, about 4,000.

Clark said it was “great fun” to play in a packed, loud arena and stressed how important the Fever’s home fans will be this season.

“I thought they were loud, I thought they were into it,” she said. “It was nice to see some people in Iowa gear and then a lot of people in Fever gear. This is a preseason game on a Thursday night and there are 13,000 people here.

Clark scored 12 points as the Fever picked up their first preseason win.  -David L. Nemec/NBAE/Getty ImagesClark scored 12 points as the Fever picked up their first preseason win.  -David L. Nemec/NBAE/Getty Images

Clark scored 12 points as the Fever picked up their first preseason win. -David L. Nemec/NBAE/Getty Images

“I think this shows what it will be like for us throughout the season and will help us. There are home games you have to win, so I’m excited about our home opener. I think it will obviously be busy against a really great team (the New York Liberty).

“It’s pretty incredible – 13,000 in a preseason game is pretty unheard of.”

The Fever open their WNBA season Tuesday night at Mohegan Sun Arena against the Connecticut Sun before the team plays its home opener against the Liberty on May 16.

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