Fever top Sky, question 'unacceptable' foul on Caitlin Clark

Clark, Fever hold on late to pick up first home win of the season (2:29)

Caitlin Clark and the Fever hold on in the final seconds to grab the home win over Angel Reese and the Sky. (2:29)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever secured their first home win of the season Saturday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where a hard foul on the No. 1 WNBA draft pick drew widespread attention.

Clark and the Fever held on for a 71-70 victory over fellow rookie star Angel Reese and the Chicago Sky, whose fourth-quarter rally came up short. Chicago's Chennedy Carter scored a game-high 19 points off the bench but came under scrutiny late in the third quarter when she shoulder-checked Clark before the basketball was inbounded.

The play was not reviewed and was called an away-from-the-ball common foul, but the WNBA told ESPN on Sunday morning that Carter has now been assessed a flagrant 1 after a league review.

"I grew up playing basketball with the boys, so, like, it's always been physical and feisty and that's what it is," Clark said Sunday. "You gotta find a way to hold your own."

Fever coach Christie Sides took to social media after the game Saturday, calling Carter's foul on Clark "unacceptable" and asking the WNBA, "When will the consistent complaints be heard?!? Something has to be done!"

Chennedy Carter knocks over Caitlin Clark for foul

Chennedy Carter hits a jumper, then shoves Caitlin Clark to the floor.

Sides said during her postgame news conference that the Fever have been sending plays in which Clark has been "getting hammered" to the WNBA for review. She added that the team would probably do so again after Carter's foul.

"This league is awesome, it's a physical league," Sides said before Sunday's game vs. the New York Liberty. "That was a non-basketball play that needed to be called in that moment."

The league office may reclassify a flagrant foul or upgrade a foul to a flagrant 1 if it isn't called during the game, and can also impose a fine or suspend a player for a flagrant foul. The WNBA didn't do either to Carter.

When asked about the play after the game, Carter said, "Next question," and declined to address the foul.

Said Clark: "It is what it is. I feel like I'm just at the point where you accept it and don't retaliate. ... I'm trying not to let it bother me."

The WNBA announced Sunday that Reese has been fined $1,000 for failing to make herself available to media after the game. The league also fined the Sky $5,000 for failing to ensure that all players comply with league media policies.

Sides lauded Clark for keeping her composure through all the physical play this season.

"We're just going to keep sending these possessions to the league, and these plays, and hopefully they'll start, you know, taking a better look at some of the things that we see happening, or we think is happening," Sides said. "Just more happy that Caitlin handled it the way she did.

"You know, it's tough to keep getting hammered the way she does and to not get rewarded with free throws or foul calls. She's continued to fight through that. Appreciate that from her. Really, really proud of her for doing that."

After struggling on defense during its early-season funk, Indiana (2-8) put together its best effort on that end of the floor, overcoming shooting woes (39.1% from the field) as it held Chicago to a 40.6% clip and just 2-for-12 from the 3-point arc.

"We were connected defensively more than we've been all year," Sides said.

Saturday's contest served as both teams' first game in the Commissioner's Cup, the WNBA's in-season tournament.

The Fever led the majority of the contest, pulling ahead by as many as nine with 3:36 to play before the Sky used a late run to make it a one-point game with 1:35 left. Aliyah Boston's clutch and-1 with 1:19 was the difference. Chicago's Marina Mabrey missed a critical free throw with 6.1 seconds remaining.

"I'm proud of our group," said Clark, who finished with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. "I thought earlier in the season, to this point, if we would have shot like this, we wouldn't have won the game because we didn't have that resiliency and we would let it affect the defensive end for us. So just proud of us. We were really gritty on defense. Even when they were making runs, we always found a way to respond."

Clark became the first WNBA rookie to record 150 points, 50 rebounds and 50 assists in a 10-game span.

Sky rookie Kamilla Cardoso, the No. 3 pick, returned from a preseason shoulder injury to make her WNBA debut, scoring 11 points and corralling six rebounds in 18 minutes off the bench.

Two months ago, Clark and Cardoso faced off in the national title game, which Cardoso's South Carolina squad won. Cardoso is a former college teammate of the Fever's Boston (who finished with 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks) and played alongside former SEC foe Reese for the first time since they were drafted by Chicago in April. Clark and Reese's battles when they were at Iowa and LSU, respectively, garnered national headlines and record ratings and helped spur an uptick in interest and growth in women's basketball.

Saturday's contest was the Fever's 10th in 19 days, and they will travel to play New York on Sunday night. Their 11 games in 20 days marks the most games played in that long of a span since the Washington Mystics did it in 2011. After Sunday's contest, Indiana is off until Friday.

"Anytime you win, that makes everything a lot better," Sides said. "These guys, they're clawing and they're fighting. And that's all I can ask them to do. They did that till the end tonight, and they'll do it again tomorrow regardless of the competition."