Sky outlasted by Fever 71-70 as rookie Kamilla Cardoso makes WNBA debut

INDIANAPOLIS — Sky coach Teresa Weatherspoon sent a strong message halfway through the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Fever.

With her team trailing by six, Weatherspoon made a substitution that indicated the team’s direction, bringing rookie center Kamilla Cardoso off the bench for veteran Elizabeth Williams.

In a game where neither team led by more than single digits, the Sky lost 71-70, giving the Fever (2-8) their first home win of the season.

“That was what we had to do for the moment,” Weatherspoon said in response to a question about going with Cardoso late. “But, we’re very strong in [the frontcourt.]”

Saturday largely lacked any competitive fireworks between both teams until the second half.

In the final 20 seconds of the third quarter, as Fever rookie Caitlin Clark waited for the ball to be inbounded, Sky guard Chennedy Carter shoulder-checked her, sending Clark to the floor. On the broadcast replay, it was visible that Carter shared words with Clark as she made contact with her.

The broadcast also showed Clark and Carter jawing at each other on the play before.

Carter earned an away-from-the-play personal foul for the move, but it wasn’t reviewed. Clark made her free-throw attempt and the quarter ended with the Fever up five. During the break, Clark was asked about the play during ESPN’s between-quarters interview, saying that “it wasn’t a basketball play.”

Weatherspoon could be seen pulling Carter to the side at the end of the third quarter. Angel Reese stood with them.

When asked about the play post-game, Carter responded, “Next question.”

Weatherspoon chalked the play up to two players competing. In the Fever’s media room down the hall, coach Christie Sides said she couldn’t fully see the play, but her players thought it should have been reviewed. She said the Fever would be sending the play to the league.

“I’m just really proud of her not reacting,” Sides said of Clark, who had 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. “She’s a competitor and she kept her cool. That’s exactly what she needed to do in that moment.”

Carter finished with a game-high 19 points, six assists and four rebounds.

The Sky (3-4) spent the game attempting to recover from a slow start that forced them to recover from an early deficit.

The typical defensive intensity that has accompanied the Sky through their first six games of the season evaded them. Each time they tried to find it, the Fever had a response. They shot 0-for-8 from three until halfway through the third quarter when Marina Mabrey connected from deep.

She finished with 15 points and nine rebounds. She had an opportunity to tie the game at 71 from the free-throw line after drawing a personal foul on NaLyssa Smith. However, she missed her first attempt.

Reese made history in the Sky’s loss, recording eight offensive rebounds, the most by any Sky rookie in franchise history. She had eight points on 2-for-9 shooting and 13 rebounds.

Cardoso played 18 minutes and finished with 11 points and six rebounds in her WNBA debut. She also picked up five personal fouls. Her fifth came in the final two minutes of the game and resulted in a critical three-point play from former South Carolina teammate, Fever center Aliyah Boston.

After drawing the and-one on Cardoso, her free throw gave the Fever a four-point lead with 75 seconds to play.

“Just gotta use this as experience and try not to foul the next time,” Cardoso said.

Cardoso missed the Sky’s first six games with a shoulder injury. She said postgame, her shoulder felt great.

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