Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese make pro debut as WNBA preseason begins

Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese make pro debut as WNBA preseason begins
Caitlin Clark, Angel Reese make pro debut as WNBA preseason begins

WNBA fever is in the air, and fans finally got to see Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese suit up as professionals for the first time Friday night as the brief league preseason begins. Clark and Reese were standouts in college, with the former breaking the NCAA Division I scoring record and the latter leading LSU to an NCAA title in 2023.

Caitlin Clark of the Indiana Fever drives to the basketball against the Dallas Wings during the first quarter of a WNBA preseason game at College Park Center on May 3, 2024, in Arlington, Texas.

Getty Images

Clark’s Indiana Fever took on the Dallas Wings in Arlington, while Reese’s Chicago Sky traveled to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Lynx.

Clark missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer as the Fever lost to the Wings 79-76. Despite the loss, Clark was the team’s leading scorer, finishing with 21 points on 6-of-15 from the field, including five 3-pointers, along with three rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.

Reese also walked away from her preseason debut without a win as the Sky fell to the Lynx 81-92. Reese finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in 24 minutes.

The WNBA initially indicated, incorrectly as it turned out, that all its preseason games would be available on WNBA League Pass.

“Apologies! Our App is incorrectly showing that every preseason game (including CHI vs MIN) is available on League Pass. But you *can* watch IND vs DAL tonight in a FREE preview of WNBA League Pass on the WNBA App,” the WNBA https://twitter.com/WNBA/status/1786539798640914796 less than half an hour before tip off.

While the Fever game streamed for free on the WNBA app as advertised, the Sky vs. Lynx showdown was unavailable anywhere — officially, that is.

A Lynx fan at the game came through in the clutch, https://twitter.com/heyheyitsalli/status/1786547444198621367 which garnered over 170,000 viewers by the fourth quarter.

The Wings announced on social media last week that tickets to the game in Arlington had sold out. Clark, the first overall pick in this year’s WNBA draft, will be coming to town alongside Aaliyah Boston, last year’s top draft pick and unanimous rookie of the year.

Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese at the WNBA Draft held at the Brooklyn Academy of Music on April 15, 2024 in New York, New York.

Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images

The Fever have not made the playoffs since 2016, and currently sit in the ninth spot in CBS Sports’ power rankings. The Sky, who drafted Reese with the seventh pick, ranked dead last out of the 12 WNBA teams. Reese’s LSU was eliminated by Clark in this year’s NCAA Tournament.

Reese isn’t the only rookie Chicago is hoping will turn their team around. The team spent the third pick on 6-foot-7 Kamilla Cardoso, who led the University of South Carolina to a championship over Clark’s Hawkeyes in April.

Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes shoots the ball while defended by Angel Reese #10 of the LSU Tigers during the finals of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament in April.

/ Getty Images

Dawn Staley, Cardoso’s coach, credited Clark as the “sole reason” why viewership in women’s basketball has grown recently in an interview with 670 The Score last month. The championship game net 18.9 million viewers per ESPN, the most viewed college basketball game ever on the network.

“She’s the greatest of her time. I want women’s basketball to grow, and I’m not too shy about saying why it grows. She’s made it grow over the past two years,” Staley said in the interview.

The WNBA preseason will continue until next Friday, with the regular season tip-off on May 14.

Rishikesh Rajagopalan

Rishi Rajagopalan is a social media associate producer and content writer for CBS News.

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