Caitlin Clark, Fever teammates' mental toughness questioned after loss


Indiana Fever head coach Christie Sides put Caitlin Clark and the rest of her team on notice following the team’s 102-66 loss to the New York Liberty on Thursday night.

Sides told reporters after the game the team needs to be tougher mentally.

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Caitlin Clark points

Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell (0) and teammate guard Caitlin Clark, right, in the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

If somebody keeps punching you, you’ve got to be able to respond to it,” Sides said, via Athlon Sports. “You’ve gotta give some of that back. And that’s where we are. We’ve got to get to another level of mental toughness.

“We just have to get better. More mentally tough.”

Frustrations grew for the Fever as the team committed 13 turnovers. Fever forward Aliyah Boston and Liberty star Jonquel Jones battled underneath the basket all game long. Indiana also missed crucial shots in the third quarter when the team was getting back into the game.

Caitlin Clark on the court

Indiana Fever guard Caitlin Clark (22) stands on the court in the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In the fourth quarter, after Indiana cut the deficit to just 11 points, the Liberty went on a 13-2 run to start the frame and never looked back.

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Indiana shot 36.7% from the floor, including 26.3% from 3-point range.

Caitlin Clark had nine points, seven rebounds, six assists and three turnovers. She didn’t speak to reporters after the game. 

“I have great perspective of everything, and I think the same is true of my college career,” she said before the game. “There were some moments that were absolutely amazing, and there were some moments where I was not happy with how I played and how I performed and how my team performed. But that’s just life. That’s just basketball.”

Kelsey Mitchell and Caitlin Clark talk

Indiana Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell (0) talks with teammate guard Caitlin Clark, right, in the second half of a WNBA basketball game against the New York Liberty, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

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Indiana dropped to 0-2 to start the season. The Liberty improved to 2-0.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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