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Caitlin Clark plays her first regular season game in the WNBA


The biggest stars in women's basketball - number one overall in the WNBA draft - has just played her first game as a pro. Frankie Graziano with Connecticut Public Radio takes us there.

FRANKIE GRAZIANO, BYLINE: Everyone's watching Caitlin Clark. One of her last games at the University of Iowa was the most-watched women's basketball game ever. And in college - and now in the WNBA - she's selling a lot of tickets. Clark's presence is helping the other teams, too.

UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: (Shouting) It's the sold-out home opener. Are you ready?


GRAZIANO: On a Tuesday night in May, the Connecticut Sun sold out their home opener for the first time in 21 years. Karalyn Meineke and her sister Kelly are now season ticket holders.

KARALYN MEINEKE: You can just see that it's not really a Sun atmosphere. It's more of a Caitlin Clark atmosphere.

GRAZIANO: Lisa Bachman and her friend Suzy Lowman have been friends for 30 years, but this was their first WNBA game together.

LISA BACHMAN: This is history-making tonight with her coming into the league, so that's why we're here, to support her and the league itself.

GRAZIANO: Suzanne Scallion can't help but remember a different time - when she was in high school. Back then, the boys rode buses to away games and were given free jerseys. Scallion and her teammates had to buy theirs and drive themselves to away games. This was before Title IX.

SUZANNE SCALLION: We've come a long way, baby, but we have a long way to go.

GRAZIANO: She held up a sign that said, raise the pay for WNBA.

SCALLION: Caitlin's got the full package, and she's dazzling. I think it's time that the sport gets the recognition it's due.

GRAZIANO: As for the game, Clark got some cheers on the road.


GRAZIANO: She started her debut out slow - two points in her first 11 minutes of action.


CAITLIN CLARK: I thought it was physical. I thought it took me a little while to settle to the game.

GRAZIANO: Indiana turned the ball over 25 times in a 21-point loss. Clark finished with 20 points.


CLARK: I mean, I think I would have enjoyed to play better. I think all of us would have enjoyed to play better. I think we would've loved to win. I didn't really feel much pressure coming into this game. I was trying to just, you know, do whatever I can to help the team and help us win.

GRAZIANO: Up next for Clark and the Fever - their home opener Thursday against New York.

For NPR News, I'm Frankie Graziano.

(SOUNDBITE OF STRFKR'S "QUALITY TIME") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Frankie Graziano joined CPBN in October of 2011 as a sports producer. In addition to reporting for WNPR, Graziano produces feature profiles for CPTV and the web.