'A basketball play': Reese disagrees with her foul of Clark

'A basketball play': Reese disagrees with her foul of Clark

'A basketball play': Reese disagrees with her foul of Clark

BySTEPHEN HOLDER

June 16, 2024, 5:49 PM

    INDIANAPOLIS -- The second WNBA installment of Caitlin Clark vs. Angel Reese made as many headlines as the first.

    Clark's Indiana Fever defeated Reese's Chicago Sky 88-83 on Sunday in a game that will be marked by the flagrant foul Reese committed against her college rival. Reese, the former LSU star who has been inextricably linked to former Iowa star Clark since their much-hyped matchup in the 2023 women's Final Four, delivered a hard blow to Clark's head as Clark drove to the basket in the third quarter. Officials upgraded the call to a flagrant 1 foul after a video review.

    But Reese seemed to take exception to the ruling. She described it as merely "a basketball play," after the loss.

    She continued, saying, "I can't control the refs. They affected the game a lot tonight. ... I'm always going for the ball. But y'all going to play that clip 20 times before Monday."

    Reese, who was called for five fouls, was visibly frustrated at times in the game. She was assessed a delay of game warning at one point in the fourth quarter after a prolonged argument with officials.

    Asked about the physical play in the paint, where she was called for most of her fouls, Reese again turned her criticism toward officiating.

    "I think we went up really strong a lot of times and we didn't get a lot of calls," she said of herself and center Kamilla Cardoso. "And going back and looking at the film, I've seen a lot of calls that weren't made. I guess some people got a special whistle."

    For her part, Clark had a similar reaction to the flagrant foul as Reese, saying, "It's just part of basketball. It is what it is. Trying to make a play on the ball, get the block. I mean, it happens."

    The foul came on the heels of a much-debated play in the first meeting between these teams on June 1, when Sky guard Chennedy Carter forcefully knocked Clark to the ground in a foul committed before the Fever had inbounded the ball. There were days of fallout from the play, with WNBA officials subsequently upgrading the foul to a flagrant foul the following day. Clark said during an in-game interview that day that the foul was "not a basketball play."

    Clearly, Carter's foul was not forgotten by Sunday's game. Fever coach Christie Sides made a not-so-veiled reference to it when addressing how Reese's foul was handled.

    "The right call was made in that moment -- flagrant 1," Sides said. "Just make the right call in those moments and we can move forward. But when you don't make the right call in those moments, that's when there's a problem. And they made the right call tonight."

    After Sunday's foul, Clark went to the free-throw line and made both shots for two of her game-high 23 points. Clark added eight rebounds and nine assists in what was one of her best all-around performances of the season, a near triple-double.

    Clark has been on an up-and-down stretch of games, scoring in single digits in two of her previous four games. That included a 3-for-11 shooting night in Thursday night's win over the Atlanta Dream. Meanwhile, Reese grabbed 13 rebounds, one off the career high she set on Friday night against Washington.

    Potential for more drama awaits next Sunday when the teams meet for the third time this season, the first in Chicago.

    Each matchup between Clark and Reese is undeniably a draw, with both games so far sold out with more than 17,000 in attendance and played before a national television audience.

    "I think it's just the emotion and the passion that we play with," Clark said. "I think 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 going to get physical. But at the end of the day, both teams are just trying to win."

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