Caitlin Clark, WNBA, Indiana Fever, Connecticut Sun

Caitlin Clark, Other Starters Benched For Final 14 Minutes As Fever Coach Rips Team

Indiana Fever rookie star Caitlin Clark and the other starters were benched and then ripped by their coach in an 89-72 road loss to the Connecticut Sun on Monday night.

Other than that, it was a great day.

Clark was held to 10 points, two assists and zero rebounds in a career-low 22 minutes. Clark was the No. 1 pick in the 2024 WNBA Draft, and center/forward Aliyah Boston was the No. 1 pick in the '23 draft (and is the reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year). So the Fever's stars are incredibly young and they are going through some growing pains.

But Indiana coach Christie Sides said it was about more than that.

"I'm gonna start with — you can't, at this level, coach effort," Sides told reporters. "I thought we were just trying to ask them to keep playing hard. You can't start there, you can't play in this league if you have to coach effort. It's just too hard."

The Sun are perhaps the WNBA's best defensive team and they have made life miserable on the court for Clark. Sides pulled her from the game with 4:41 left in the third quarter and the Fever down by 27.

Meanwhile, the Fever are the WNBA's worst defensive team. They allow a league-worst 89.8 points per game on a league-best 46.5 field goal percentage. Not surprisingly, Indiana has the worst team defensive rating in the league at 111.7.

"I thought we just could have played with a lot better energy. I thought we let little things on the offensive end frustrate us and we didn't play good defense. Everything they got was easy," Clark said of the Sun. "Nothing was challenged, uncontested 3's, we were giving up and-ones, we put them at the free-throw line. That was the key to this game, you can't foul this team, they lead the league in free-throw attempts and that's exactly what I did."