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Clark: Reese's flagrant-1 foul 'just a part of basketball'

Emilee Chinn / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Caitlin Clark denied any ill will between her and longtime rival Angel Reese after the latter picked up a flagrant 1 for a hard foul on Clark during the Indiana Fever's 91-83 win Sunday.

"Just a part of basketball," Clark told Stephen Holder of ESPN. "It is what it is. Trying to make a play on the ball, get the block. It happens."

Reese caught Clark on the side of the head in the third quarter while trying to defend the driving Fever rookie's layup. It was initially ruled a common foul, but referees upgraded the call after a video review showed Reese's right arm missed the ball and made contact with Clark's face.

Clark scored a game-high 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep, to improve the Fever to 5-10 on the season and 3-4 at home. She also led all players in assists with nine while chipping in eight rebounds and two blocks.

Reese finished with a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds plus five assists, two steals, and a block in 31 minutes. The first-year Chicago Sky forward confirmed that she was only trying to go for the ball in the play but voiced frustration with the officiating.

"It's a basketball play," Reese said. "I can't control the refs. They affected the game obviously a lot tonight."

She added: "I think we went up really strong a lot of times, and we didn't get a lot of calls. Going back, looking at the film, I've seen a lot of calls that weren't made. I guess some people got a special whistle."

The two rising stars' rivalry began with the 2023 women's NCAA Tournament final, when Reese, then with LSU, taunted Clark by pointing to her ring finger with the Tigers seconds away from winning the championship.

Clark got her revenge a year later, eliminating Reese and LSU from March Madness in the Elite Eight. Clark and Iowa returned to the national title game but fell to an undefeated South Carolina squad.

The two had their first matchup as pros on June 1, with Indiana holding on for a one-point win.

Clark suggested her rivalry with Reese can help bring more eyes to the women's game.

"I think it's just the emotion and the passion that we play with," she said, according to Holder. "I think people love to see that. And I think that's maybe not something that was always appreciated in women's sports, and it should be."

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