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Triumphant Sun cite 'seatbelt season' for Indiana Fever's Caitlin Clark

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark failed to score in the second half of a loss to the Connecticut Sun on Monday in Uncasville, Conn. File Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI
1 of 5 | Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark failed to score in the second half of a loss to the Connecticut Sun on Monday in Uncasville, Conn. File Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI | License Photo

June 11 (UPI) -- Coach Christie Sides took aim at her own Indiana Fever players for a lack of effort following a 17-point loss to the Connecticut Sun. Star rookie Caitlin Clark also admitted her team was "lackadaisical."

Clark was held to 10 points in the 89-72 setback Monday in Uncasville, Conn. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft scored 17 in her first matchup against the Fever, an 88-84 loss May 20 in Indianapolis.

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She opened the season with a 20-point effort against the same team in a 21-point loss May 14 in Uncasville.

"It was a lot of one-on-one," Sun guard DiJonai Carrington told reporters, when asked about guarding Clark. "We didn't trap as much, just sporadically. It was a lot of the same."

Clark made 3 of 8 attempts and failed to score in the second half. The sharpshooting rookie, who tied her career-high with 30 points Friday in a win over the Washington Mystics, has now scored 11 points or fewer in three of her last four games. She also leads the WNBA with 5.4 turnovers per appearance.

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"It's seatbelt season for her," Sun guard Tyasha Harris said of Clark.

Clark, who totaled a team-high three turnovers Monday, cited frustrations on offense and poor defense as part of the Fever's bad effort.

"This is a team that you can't come out and be lackadaisical against," Clark said of the Sun. "They are just that good. They're going to punch you in the mouth and I don't think we had it from the jump. Obviously, that's a little disappointing.

"That's something they can't coach. They can coach Xs and Os, but they can't coach that. I thought we could have played with a lot better energy."

The Sun outshot the Fever 46.2% to 40.3%. They also held a 41-26 edge in rebounding. The Sun outscored the Fever 36-28 in the paint and 15-9 off fast breaks. They led by as many as 28 points.

"I felt like we were just trying to ask them to keep playing hard and play hard," Sides said. "You can't start there. You can't play in this league if you have to coach effort. It's just too hard."

Carrington recorded 22 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals in the victory. DeWanna Bonner totaled 17 points. Fellow forward Alyssa Thomas scored seven, but also logged 18 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.

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Center Aliyah Boston led the Fever with 14 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Sides benched Clark and other Fever starters midway through the third quarter.

"We were down 28 and I wanted to put a group in there that would get out and play some defense," Sides said, when asked about benching the starters. "I'm really proud of that group that went out there and cut the lead. They played hard.

"We've got Atlanta coming up, got Chicago coming up, just thinking ahead."

The Sun (10-1) own the WNBA's beat record. The Fever (3-10) totaled the second-most losses (10) and winning percentage (.231) so far this season, trailing only the last-place Mystics (0-12).

The Fever will host the Atlanta Dream (5-4) at 7 p.m. EDT Thursday in Indianapolis.

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