Mateo’s Hoop Diary: The touring Fever got crushed in the fourth quarter by the Connecticut Sun

The Fever rolled into Mohegan Sun Arena and got overwhelmed by the opposing outfit late. Caitlin Clark was welcomed to the league by DiJonai Carrington’s two-way play. And Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner passed Candice Dupree for fifth place in WNBA scoring.

At halftime, turnovers had the visitors down 39-49 despite shooting 54.2% from the field and leading on the glass by four. The second half wasn’t much prettier defensively.

Clark started slowly, missing her first three tries and picking up two fouls plus a turnover. A timeout was called, and she sat until the closing seconds of the quarter. In those minutes, the Fever went on a 6-9 run.

Then Clark started contributing in the second frame. She swiped a pass and took off on the break for a layup, plus hit a left-wing triple, but had four extra turnovers. On top of that, Aliyah Boston set up NaLyssa Smith for a left-side 3-pointer and passed to Kelsey Mitchell, cutting back door for a layup.

But the visitors offered little resistance on defense.

Tyasha Harris splashed jumpers in the corner, the wing, and above the elbow. Carrington logged 14 points on five of 10 attempts, including a steal on Clark at midcourt then taking off for a fast break layup. Bonner swished shots off the dribble and behind picks. And Brionna Jones poured in two baskets at close range.

The Fever was down 39-49 at halftime. Furthermore, the team had 18 paint points, nine on the break, six via second chances, seven off turnovers and 14 from the bench.

The Sun had 18 interior points, three in the open court, seven on extra tries, 16 off turnovers and four from the reserves.

Carrington guarded Clark out of intermission, and the Sun added in traps. As the sequence progressed, Clark drained a trifecta against Jones in drop coverage and showed her open court gifts with a connecting pass for a layup, and a direct feed for a deuce.

Erica Wheeler made a left-wing tray and dribbled into the paint for a layup.

Yet, the rest of the unit put up three of nine baskets in the third quarter.

Connecticut’s Jones and Thomas made it difficult for Boston to initiate post offense.

The fourth quarter started with the Fever behind 57-65, but they couldn’t hang the rest of the period, getting outscored by 13 points.

Clark scored eight more points, downing two freebies, nailing a left-side 3-pointer over Olivia Nelson-Ododa, and canning another falling away deep shot at the same spot.

Wheeler broke into the lane for two points on a pick-and-roll set with Temi Fagbenle.

And Kristy Wallace scored quickly on the break, fed by Clark.

The rest of the Fever dispensed one of five baskets the rest of the way.

On the other side, Thomas cut through Indiana’s defenses for a layup and logged a putback. Harris and Rachel Banham made 3-pointers. And Carrington was a defensive pest.

The Fever lost 71-92, were outrebounded by two and committed 10 more turnovers than the Sun. Additionally, the group scored 30 paint points, 14 on the break, six via second chances, 14 off turnovers and 21 from the bench.

Clark finished with 20 points on five of 15 attempts, with three assists, two steals and 10 turnovers. NaLyssa Smith had 13 points on 41.7% accuracy, with nine rebounds, one assist, two blocks and two turnovers. Wheeler totaled eight marks on a perfect three attempts and recovered one rebound and two assists.

The Suns recorded 32 interior points, 10 in the open court, 15 on extra tries, 29 off turnovers and 19 from the reserves.

Thomas registered a triple-double, 13 points on four of eight looks, with 10 rebounds, 13 assists, three steals and seven turnovers. Bonner had 20 points on 57.1% shooting, with six rebounds, one assist, one steal and two turnovers. Harris put up 16 marks on six of 11 attempts, with two dimes and one steal. And Carrington had 16 points on six of 15 tries and picked up five rebounds, one assist and two steals.

Postgame, Clark said she had too many turnovers and that she didn’t have a great start. “Like we said in the locker room, we play on Thursday, you gotta learn from it and move on and be ready to go.”

Fever coach Christie Sides said the team has a lot to work on.

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