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Liberty pummel Fever, spoil Caitlin Clark’s home debut

USA TODAY
                                Indiana Fever guards Caitlin Clark (22) and Kelsey Mitchell (0) defend New York Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot.
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USA TODAY

Indiana Fever guards Caitlin Clark (22) and Kelsey Mitchell (0) defend New York Liberty guard Courtney Vandersloot.

Breanna Stewart scored 20 of her 31 points in the first half, helping the New York Liberty spoil Caitlin Clark’s home debut with a 102-66 rout of the Indiana Fever today in Indianapolis.

Stewart added 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks to avenge her lackluster performance in the season opener. The two-time WNBA MVP scored just eight points on 3-of-9 shooting from the floor in New York’s 85-80 victory over the host Washington Mystics on Tuesday.

Jonquel Jones recorded 14 points and 10 rebounds for New York on Thursday, and Sabrina Ionescu had 14 and seven, respectively. Betnijah Laney-Hamilton contributed 12 points for the Liberty (2-0), who outscored the Fever 35-10 in the fourth quarter and held a 40-26 advantage in rebounds for the game.

Clark, the No. 1 overall draft pick after a record-breaking college career, scored nine points on 2-of-8 shooting from the floor — including 1-of-7 from 3-point range. She contributed seven rebounds and six assists to go along with just three turnovers, as opposed to the 10 she committed in Indiana’s 92-71 loss to the host Connecticut Sun on Tuesday.

Aliyah Boston recorded 12 points and seven rebounds and Katie Lou Samuelson added 10 points for the Fever (0-2).

Lexie Hull drained a 3-pointer to trim New York’s lead to 29-25 midway into the second quarter, before Stewart ignited the Liberty’s 19-6 run to end the half. She totaled nine points during that sequence, while Laney-Hamilton added six.

New York extended its lead to 23 points at 67-44 on Nyara Sabally’s basket with 4:06 remaining in the third quarter. Indiana answered with a 12-0 run to end the quarter, highlighted by four free throws and a 3-pointer by Clark.

Jones made a pair of baskets, Stewart converted a three-point play and Ionescu made a 3-pointer and a layup as the Liberty rode a 12-0 start to the fourth quarter. The outcome was not in doubt the rest of the way.

Tempers flared late in the first quarter after a foul by Jones on Boston underneath the basket. Boston responded with a shove and words were exchanged before the players were separated.

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