Clark ties rookie 3s mark en route to 30 points

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark tied the WNBA rookie record for 3-pointers in a game Friday night, making seven en route to a game-high 30 points in an 85-83 win over the Mystics in Washington.

Clark shot 7-of-13 from 3-point range and 8-of-15 overall, tying her season scoring high (May 28 vs. Los Angeles) for Indiana (3-9). She also had 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals with 8 turnovers.

“It felt good to shoot the ball well. I felt like even my misses were right there,” Clark said. “It was nice to have a night like that, and overall we shot the ball well, 16 made 3s.

“I started off missing my first two, so it was kind of annoying because both of them were pretty open. But I think it was just ‘keep shooting,’ and I thought my teammates set really good screens. I was just able to create off of those. As a shooter, once you see one or two go in, the basket just looks bigger and bigger.”

Clark tied Crystal Robinson’s rookie record with the seven 3-pointers. Robinson set the mark in 1999 while with the New York Liberty, but she wasn’t actually a professional rookie, having played two seasons previously with the Colorado Xplosion in the short-lived American Basketball League. Robinson is currently an assistant coach with the Chicago Sky.

Clark is known for her shooting range, and that was on display Friday. According to Second Spectrum, her average shot distance vs. the Mystics was 24 feet, the longest by any player this season. Eleven of her 3s were at least 25 feet. She has eight games with at least seven shots from 25 feet; New York’s Sabrina Ionescu is the only other player who has done that this season (once).

Clark also became the fastest WNBA player to reach 200 points and 75 assists, doing it in 12 games. Seattle’s Sue Bird had the previous mark, doing it in 14 games in 2002. Clark has led or co-led the Fever in assists in every game this season.

The Mystics (0-11) played both Thursday (vs. the Sky and rookie Angel Reese) and Friday at Capital One Arena, drawing 10,000 the first night and 20,333 the second. They used to play in that arena full-time but relocated to the smaller Entertainment and Sports Arena (4,200 capacity) in 2019. The draw of rookies Reese and Clark prompted the Mystics to move those games to the larger venue.

“The crowds never get old; they’re great,” Clark said. “I think at times they might have been cheering for us. It’s fun to see people in Fever gear. It’s fun to see people screaming about women’s basketball.”

After 11 games in 20 days to open the season, the Fever said they needed rest more than anything. They got some of that this past week, and it helped as they bounced back from a 104-68 loss at New York on Sunday in which Clark was limited to 3 points.

Clark said the pace and physicality of the league are big challenges but nothing she didn’t expect.

“I knew what I was getting into,” she said. “Maybe some people didn’t know the circumstances of the WNBA. But me, personally, I know it’s one of the best leagues in the world, the players are really good. I’ve been a big fan of this league all my life. You’re starting a new chapter, a new part of your career becoming a professional athlete. Not everything’s going to click overnight. Keep working and keep grinding, and it will come over time.”

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