Cardoso shines but Fever hold off Sky to win first installment of Reese vs. Clark at WNBA level

The game plenty had circled since the start of the 2024 WNBA season finally played in Indianapolis.

Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky met Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever met in Indianapolis. Two headliners of the 2024 WNBA Draft Class and two of the most popular names in women's basketball were front and center on ESPN.

Round one goes the Fever.

Marina Mabrey went to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game with 6.6 left, and split her free throws. The Fever ran out the clock after and outlasted the Sky 71-70.

The Sky couldn't find their rhythm on offense. When the Fever went up eight with 4:14 left in the game, the Sky had a chance to cut into the lead. Chicago had multiple chances to tie or take the lead. 

"We gave ourselves an opportunity," Sky head coach Terese Weatherspoon said. "We'll go back, take a look at it and grow from it all."

When the Sky made it a one-point game with just over a minute to go, the Fever turned its young star to close out the game. That's right, Aliyah Boston, whose 3-point play put the Fever up four.

While the Fever's namesake this season is Clark, Indiana's veterans delivered its first home win of the year. Kelsey Mitchell was the catalyst for Indiana's offense in crunch time. Mitchell finished with 18 points on the afternoon.

Chicago could not make the play or two plays it needed to get over the hump. The Sky's defense was consistent. The defense as a unit outrebounded the Fever at a consistent rate and did enough to put Chicago in a position to win.

A reason why was because of Cardoso's debut. The rookie and No. 3 overall draft pick, sidelined with an injury, finally saw the court. She shined on both ends of the floor, but had a minute restriction as she returns to full speed.

Cardoso had 11 points and six rebounds in 17 minutes. It was a solid debut that could be a harbinger of what her potential is once she gets back to full strength. 

But, the Fever were one step ahead. 

Angel Reese had 13 rebounds with eight points. Clark had 11 points, eight rebounds and six assists. The two rookies had good afternoons, but they weren't the main catalysts for either team.

Chennedy Carter, who continues to shine with the ball in her hands, scored a game-high 19 for the Sky. When Chicago needed a lift, she was the one with the best chance to give it. 

But, miscues were still evident. The Sky had 15 turnovers and 17 personal fouls.

Carter was responsible for one foul where she checked Clark to the ground off-ball. Carter declined to address the moment.

Weatherspoon was adamant the Sky would learn and grow from the momennt.