By Jack Thompson
Associated Press

PHOENIX (AP) — Caitlin Clark had 15 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds and the Indiana Fever rallied to beat the Phoenix Mercury 88-82 on Sunday.

Clark was just 4 of 14 from the field and 2 of 10 from 3-point range. But he made a pair of free throws with 19.9 seconds left to put the Fever up by three. Indiana was down by as many as 15 points in the first half.

Kelsey Mitchell’s basket with 35 seconds left gave Indiana the lead for good. She made two free throws with 12.9 seconds left to seal the win.

Aliyah Boston scored 17 points and eight rebounds and NaLyssa Smith had 12 points and 15 rebounds for the Fever, who finished 7-4 in June after going 1-8 in May. Temi Fagbenle scored 10 points for Indiana.

Brittney Griner scored 24 points, Diana Taurasi scored 19 and Natasha Cloud scored 15 for Phoenix.

Kahleah Copper, who entered Sunday third in the WNBA with 22.7 points per game, scored just seven points on 3-of-15 shooting before being ejected in the final seconds, but bore most of the scoring responsibility. Clark.

It was the first meeting on the court between Taurasi and Clark. Taurasi, 42, is the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer and is in her 20th WNBA season. She was a student in Connecticut when Clark was born. The Fever rookie said before the game that Taurasi was one of her idols since she discovered the WNBA.

When Clark was selected with the first pick in the draft after a career at Iowa that saw her lead the Hawkeyes to two straight NCAA Championship games, Taurasi said, “Reality is setting in,” when asked about Clark entering the league. Taurasi later said she meant it would be a difficult transition to professional basketball.

The Mercury jumped out to an 8-0 lead and were up 49-38 at halftime, with Griner and Taurasi scoring 13 points each. The Fever went on a 17-0 run to lead by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, but Phoenix closed within 67-64 at the end of the period.

There were two skirmishes during the first half, both in set-piece situations. Griner received a technical foul as the teams were lining up to shoot a free throw in the first quarter, and the second occurred after a foul had been called and the teams scuffled as they huddled close to each other under Indiana’s basket.

Two players from each team received technicals: Fagbenle and Erica Wheeler for the Fever, and Copper and Cloud for the Mercury.

In the final minute of the first half, Smith was called for a flagrant foul 1 against Taurasi. Cloud later received a Flagrant 1 foul against Katie Lou Samuelson, who made both free throws to cut the deficit to 78-77 with 2:17 left.

Phoenix hosts Connecticut on Monday. Indiana finishes a five-game road trip in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

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