Caitlin Clark breaks franchise rookie assist record as Indiana Fever edge out Phoenix Mercury

In a highly physical game in front of a raucous sellout crowd, the Fever pushed past the Mercury to take the 88-82 win

In the latest highly anticipated matchup for Caitlin Clark and the Indiana Fever, the Fever held on to beat the Phoenix Mercury in front of a sellout crowd in Phoenix, 88-82.

The game, which was incredibly tight and very physical, saw strong performances from several big players on both teams.

Sunday's game marked the first matchup between the Fever and the Mercury, which meant the first chance for Clark fans around Phoenix to see the rookie superstar in person.

It was also the first matchup between Clark and Phoenix veteran guard Diana Taurasi. Clark has spoken about her reverence for Taurasi in the past, and had a cool interaction with her and Mercury center Brittney Griner pregame.

The first quarter saw the Fever get off to a dismal start, shooting only 12.5% and trailing by as many as 13. But Indiana pushed back, getting within a point before Phoenix pulled away to end the quarter 28-20. With more back-and-forth in the second quarter, Phoenix went into the locker room with a 49-38 lead at halftime.

Indiana pushed to take the lead in the third quarter, ending 67-64 going into the final frame, but Phoenix took the lead back. The game was tight until the last moment, with a few clutch shots from Fever guard Kelsey Mitchell helping Indiana take the lead and hold on to it.

It was a big win for Indiana, especially as an away game in front of a raucous sellout crowd.

The game was highly physical and resulted in a slew of fouls on both sides, starting with Griner earning a technical foul in the second quarter after getting into it with the Fever's Aliyah Boston. Later in the second, both teams got pushy after the teams huddled up a little too close together, resulting in more technical fouls.

In the end, Indiana tallied 24 fouls, as well as two technical fouls, and Phoenix ended with 25, plus three technical fouls. The two teams also ended with a flagrant foul each.

Phoenix put up a strong fight, highlighted by a 24-point performance from Griner, with 19 points from Taurasi and guard Natasha Cloud chipping in 15 points and seven assists.

Boston led the Fever with 17 points, while NaLyssa Smith chipped in 12 points and 15 rebounds. Mitchell ended the night with 16 points, despite not scoring in the first half.

Clark, meanwhile, ended the night with 15 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds — one shy of becoming the WNBA's first rookie to record a triple-double. With her assists, Clark passed the Fever's rookie franchise record, recording 138 assists in just 20 games.

After the game, Taurasi had nothing but positive things to say about Clark.

Indiana moves to 8-12 with the win, while Phoenix is now 9-9. The Fever end their five-game road trip with an away match against the Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Mercury, meanwhile, have a quick turnaround to play the Connecticut Sun at home on Monday (10 p.m. ET).