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Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese renew rivalry as Indiana Fever defeats Chicago Sky 91-83


By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese faced each other for the second time in the WNBA as the Indiana Fever defeated Reese’s Chicago Sky on Sunday.

It was another closely-fought, physical affair, epitomized by the moment when Reese’s swinging arm caught Clark’s head as she tried to block the Fever star from shooting – which officials determined was “unnecessary contact” and a flagrant foul 1.

Clark sunk the resulting two free throws, as she contributed a game-high 23 points as well as eight rebounds and nine assists to steer the Fever to a 91-83 victory.

There was little to separate the two teams for much of the game and it wasn’t until Clark hit a 30-foot three pointer with just over three minutes remaining that either side was able to stretch its lead beyond seven points.

The 22-year-old Clark formed a potent partnership with fellow star Aliyah Boston who finished with 19 points, 14 rebounds and four assists – her third consecutive double-double.

Meanwhile, Marina Mabrey led the way for the Sky with 22 points, Kamilla Cardoso had her first WNBA double-double and Chennedy Carter had 18 points and four assists. Reese finished with 11 points, 13 rebounds and five assists.

After the game, Clark was asked what she was thinking after the hard foul.

“What’s going through my mind is: ‘I need to make these two free throws, that’s all I’m thinking about,’” the rookie said. “It’s just a part of basketball. It is what it is, you know. She’s trying to make a play on the ball and get the block. But yeah, it happens.”

When asked after the game about the flagrant foul, Reese seemed to disagree with the referee’s decision.

“It was a basketball play,” Reese said. “I can’t control the refs, they affected the game obviously a lot tonight.”

Later in the press conference, Reese took another verbal jab at the way the game was called.

“Going back and looking at the film, I see a lot of calls that weren’t made,” said Reese. “I guess some people got a special whistle … we’re not gonna be denied, no matter what you guys can try to do.”

Clark and Reese’s rivalry – both in the WNBA and college basketball – has triggered discourse about race in the US, while the Fever star has found herself being used by controversial figures on social media to push their agendas in American culture wars.

Earlier this month, Reese said of the rivalry with Clark: “People are pulling up to games, we got celebrities coming to games, sold out arenas, just because of [the 2023 NCAA championship game].

“And just looking at that, I’ll take that role. I’ll take the bad guy role, and I’ll continue to take that on and be that for my teammates.”

Reese continued: “I’ll look back in 20 years and be like, ‘Yeah, the reason why we’re watching women’s basketball is not just because of one person. It’s because of me too,’ and I want y’all to realize that. “

Clark was asked on Sunday why she thinks there is so much attention on the matchup between herself and Reese.

“I think it’s just the emotion and the passion that we play with,” Clark answered. “People love to see that, and I think that’s maybe not something that was always appreciated in women’s sports. And it should be. I think that’s what makes it fun.

“We’re competitors, that’s the way the game should be. It’s going to get a little feisty, it’s gonna get physical, but at the end of the day both teams are just trying to win.

“I think what [Reese] has done with her platform has been absolutely incredible, and she has an entire fan base that has supported her and what she did at Maryland and then LSU,” Clark continued.

“Obviously I’ve played her for a very long time, and she’s been a tremendous player. It’s been really fun getting to compete against. I think it’s been good for the game … people just love seeing great matchups.”

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert recently told USA Today that the league was “thrilled with the rivalries that are being built.’’

“Look, apathy is the death of a brand,” said Engelbert. “Nobody’s apathetic about the WNBA because we’ve brought in so many new fans into what we call the fan funnel this year.”

After losing five straight games to start the season, the Fever have been 5-5 since and have won four of their last six games. The Sky, meanwhile, are on a four-game losing streak and have now lost six out of their last seven games.

The Indiana Fever next play on Wednesday when they face the Washington Mystics, while the Chicago Sky will look to bounce back against the Dallas Wings on Thursday.

CNN’s Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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