Caitlin Clark [600x600]
Caitlin Clark [600x600] (Credit: Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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UNCASVILLE, Conn. -- Caitlin Clark scored a team-high 20 points but committed 10 turnovers, the most in a career debut in WNBA history, as her Indiana Fever fell 92-71 to the Connecticut Sun in their season opener Tuesday at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Clark, NCAA Division I basketball's all-time leading scorer and the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, was held scoreless in the first quarter and didn't get on the board until the 5:24 mark of the second.

"Disappointed and nobody likes to lose, that's how it is," Clark said. "Can't beat yourself up too much about one game."

The game had the bustle and energy of a playoff or Finals game. Fans donning Sun, Fever and even Iowa gear lined up to get into the arena more than 2½ hours before the tip. The Sun handed out more than 170 credentials for media, with ESPN's "WNBA Countdown" desk stationed near the Fever bench and overflow media coming from near and far situated in a skybox.

The crowd of 8,910 marked the Sun's first home opener sellout since 2003, their inaugural game in Connecticut.

Clark, who emerged as the face of women's basketball while in college at Iowa, elicited cheers from the crowd, including the moment she corralled the ball off the opening tip, when she scored her first official WNBA points (off a layup) and as she started to get going from the 3-point arc.

But the Sun gave their fans plenty to be loud about throughout the night, securing the lead four minutes in, jumping ahead by as many as 15 late in the second and not allowing Indiana to get closer than five. The loudest cheers were for 14-year veteran DeWanna Bonner when she was honored during a timeout for becoming the league's No. 5 all-time scorer, and for Alyssa Thomas when she notched her 12th career triple-double (including postseason play) late in the fourth.

"To do it here on this night with this team and this group and this crowd made it more special," Bonner said of moving up the WNBA's career scoring list. "It was huge and goal of mine I can check off my list. To be in this league is hard, to stay in this league is harder. To be part of that list is amazing. Pat myself on the back for that one."

Reflecting Tuesday morning after shootaround, Clark said that while the outside world might think she'll do amazing things in the WNBA right away, she understands it might take her some time to get there. That learning curve was apparent Tuesday: Clark's 10 turnovers, coming against a Connecticut squad known for its defense and physicality, were the most in a game in Fever history. Cynthia Cooper held the previous record for turnovers in a career debut with eight in June 1997 during the inaugural WNBA season.

"Some uncharacteristic things, like pick the ball up and travel, dribble it off my foot," Clark said. "A few things that, you know, you have to be crisper."

DiJonai Carrington, a fourth-year guard out of Stanford and Baylor, drew the primary assignment on Clark and locked her down most of the evening. Carrington held Clark to 2-of-10 shooting and forced eight turnovers when she was the primary defender. Thomas, a perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate, bothered Clark at times, too, and drew several fouls on the rookie.

Clark started to find more of a rhythm from the 3-point arc later in the game, knocking down three of her four treys in the second half. She finished 5-for-15 from the field, including 4-for-11 from 3, adding 3 assists and 2 steals.

Connecticut got it done on the other end, thanks to Carrington and Tyasha Harris combining for 32 points and Bonner scoring a team-high 20. Two-time All-Star Brionna Jones made her official return to the league after tearing her right Achilles last June, scoring eight points in just under 20 minutes.

"Caitlin was able to get her some looks, able to knock them down. Our spacing was not great," Indiana coach Christie Sides said. "Connecticut came in and punched us in the mouth tonight. We'll be in the gym tomorrow watching a lot of video trying to figure out how not to turn the ball over 25 times."

The Fever -- who are hoping by year's end to snap the league's longest active playoff drought at seven seasons -- have lost their opening game in 10 of the past 11 seasons, with their only win coming in 2019.

Before a rematch against the Sun on Monday, Clark and the Fever play the New York Liberty, last year's WNBA Finals runner-up, first in Indianapolis on Thursday and then in Brooklyn on Saturday.

"Our preseason game was tremendous, doing it for real is going to be a lot of fun; it's going to be loud," Clark said. "Use the environment to our advantage."