Caitlin Clark's home preseason debut drew a big crowd.

Caitlin Clark’s home preseason debut drew a big crowd.
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images

CNN — 

More than 13,000 fans were in attendance as Caitlin Clark made her home preseason debut on Thursday in an 83-80 victory for the Indiana Fever over the Atlanta Dream.

The atmosphere inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis belied the less important nature of a preseason game, the crowd whooping loudly as Clark made her first home bucket on a driving layup in the first half.

Clark finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists but had a difficult shooting night, going 4-of-12 from the field and 2-of-9 from deep.

“I don’t think I was that effective, honestly,” Clark told reporters after the game. “I thought more than anything I did a really good job of passing the ball, finding my teammates.

“I think I got into the paint, obviously, I would have liked to make a couple more threes, but sometimes, that’s how you shoot it.

“We really responded after we kind of had a slow start. Obviously, we don’t want to have slow starts, but it’s good to see us be able to respond and take the lead back and grind it out until the end.”

NaLyssa Smith led the way for the Fever, scoring 21 points and grabbing six rebounds, as Indiana came back from a 15-point, second-quarter deficit to take the lead with 4:57 left in the third and never looked back.

Clark, the No. 1 pick in this year’s WNBA draft, enjoyed a historic NCAA season with the Iowa Hawkeyes and is at the forefront of a new wave of interest in women’s basketball.

The Clark effect was in full swing with Thursday’s official attendance announced at 13,028, a new preseason franchise record and around three times more than the Fever’s roughly 4,000 average home attendance last season.

Clark said it was “a lot of fun” playing in a packed, boisterous arena and highlighted how important the Fever’s home fans are going to be this season.

“I thought they were loud, I thought they were into it,” she said. “It was fun to see some people in some Iowa stuff and then a lot of people in Fever gear. This is a preseason game on a Thursday night and there’s 13,000 people here.

Clark scored 12 points as the Fever picked up their first preseason win.

Clark scored 12 points as the Fever picked up their first preseason win.
David L. Nemec/NBAE/Getty Images

“I think that just shows what it’s going to be like for us all season and it’s going to help us. There are games at home that you’re going to need to win, so I’m excited for our home opener. I think it’s going to be a packed out, obviously, against a really great team [the New York Liberty].

“It’s pretty incredible – 13,000 at a preseason game is pretty unheard of.”

The Fever begin their WNBA season at Mohegan Sun Arena against the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night before the team’s home opener against the Liberty on May 16.