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11 October 2019 04:46

Washington Mystics Connecticut Sun Elena Delle Donne

Washington Mystics beat Connecticut Sun to win first WNBA title

The Washington Mystics won their first WNBA championship, getting 22 points from Emma Meesseman and 21 from banged-up league MVP Elena Delle Donne to beat the Connecticut Sun 89-78 in Game 5 of the Finals on Thursday night. It was a fitting conclusion to an entertaining series and WNBA season. This was the seventh series in league history that had gone to a deciding Game 5, and the home team has won five of them. Delle Donne, who has been dealing with a herniated disk in her back, scored four points during a decisive 8-0 run that gave the Mystics an 80-72 lead with under three minutes left. But it was Meesseman, the soft-spoken Belgian who unveiled a new, aggressive "Playoff Emma" persona during the title run, who was named MVP of the Finals.

Elena Delle Donne #11 of Washington Mystics celebrates after the Mystics defeated the Connecticut Sun to win the 2019 WNBA Finals at St Elizabeths East Entertainment & Sports Arena on October 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr / Getty Images Meesseman missed last season while playing with the Belgian national team. "I don't think I'm the missing piece. I'm their teammate (and did what) I need to do help my team win a championship. This is my family right here," she said.

Delle Donne came to Washington three years ago in a trade from Chicago, hoping to get the Mystics their first title. She grew up about an hour from the city in Delaware and wanted to be closer to home. She's been battling injuries and illnesses all season, breaking her nose early in the year. She still wears a mask to protect it. Delle Donne also wears a knee brace on her right knee after suffering a bone bruise in last year's Finals.

The victory gave coach Mike Thibault his first WNBA championship. The league's all-time winningest coach had reached the Finals three times in his career — twice with Connecticut — and last season with Washington, but fell short each time. The Washington Mystics used a strong fourth-quarter surge and the interior dominance of series MVP Emma Meess eman to overcome a second-half Connecticut Sun lead, then confidently held the relentless visitors at arm's length down the stretch to win Game 5, 89–78, and capture the franchise's first ever WNBA championship. The Mystics overcame the horribly timed herniated disc of captain Elena Delle Donne, and a tenacious Sun team led by Jonquel Jones and Courtney Williams, to ultimately do what they were supposed to do, which was finally deliver long-awaited titles to Delle Donne and head coach Mike Th ibault. Th ibault, the winningest coach in WNBA history, has been named Coach of the Year three times, but had never won a championship before Thursday night.

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Delle Donne, the reigning league MVP, was making her third career Finals appearance. The normal elation of victory was infused with gushing relief on behalf of two titans of the sport, finally getting over the hump, with all the validation that entails. Delle Donne was big in the finale—21 points and nine rebounds in 37 huge minutes—but the star of Washington's second-half turnaround and the deserving MVP was Meess eman, who became the first bench player to win Finals MVP in WNBA history. Washington's offense in the second half almost without fail involved Meesseman setting a screen along the baseline and then sealing her defender for an entry pass, while the other Mystics players arranged themselves around the arc and on the offense's weak side. Her steady hand as an offensive anchor helped the Mystics erase a nine-point third-quarter Sun lead, which looked at the time very much like the Sun pulling away. It fell to Meesseman over and over again to salvage late Mystics possessions by winning tough one-on-one battles, and over and over again she delivered: It was a heroic performance, and while no one who watched it should've been very surprised to see her collect the hardware, Meesseman herself seemed shocked by the announcement: Advertisement This is the second time a DC sports franchise has won its first ever title in just the last 16 months, after the Capitals won the Stanley Cup Finals in June 2018. Here's hoping these Mystics players party every bit as hard and as endlessly. WASHINGTON — Elena Delle Donne and Kristi Toliver stated their shared goal when they joined the Mystics for the 2017 season: Win the championship that the franchise never had. In the final minute of doing just that on Thursday, after Toliver captured a loose ball and drew a foul in Game 5 of the W.N.B.A. finals against the Connecticut Sun, Delle Donne ambled over and hugged her friend and teammate. With an 89-78 victory, the two had become what they'd set out to be: champions. "All I said to the team before the game was, 'Regret nothing,'" said Toliver, the only member of the team to have won a title before. For a series that seemed less even and more a series of violent swings, Game 5 settled into an equilibrium befitting a pair of championship-level teams with only one trophy to go around. Early tone-setting drives to the basket from each team's signature player, Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun and the Delle Donne, the league's Most Valuable Player Award winner, served notice that any loss would not come from a limit of opportunity. Please enable cookies on your web browser in order to continue. The new European data protection law requires us to inform you of the following before you use our website: We use cookies and other technologies to customize your experience, perform analytics and deliver personalized advertising on our sites, apps and newsletters and across the Internet based on your interests. By clicking "I agree" below, you consent to the use by us and our third-party partners of cookies and data gathered from your use of our platforms. See our Privacy Policy and Third Party Partners to learn more about the use of data and your rights. You also agree to our Terms of Service. Washington Mystics outshine Connecticut Sun to win first WNBA Championship WASHINGTON – This was a game the WNBA Finals deserved. The Washington Mystics, with the best record in the league, and the Connecticut Sun, with the second-best record, locked in a two-possession, back-and-forth contest with four minutes left in a winner-take-all Game 5. Relying on scoring from WNBA MVP Ellena Delle Donne, stellar two-way play from Emma Meesseman off the bench and fourth-quarter scoring burst from Natasha Cloud, the Mystics defeated the Sun 89-78 on Thursday. It was the Mystics' first championship, the first title for Delle Donne and the first WNBA championship for Mystics coach and basketball lifer Mike Thibault, who was an NBA assistant before deciding to switch leagues 16 years ago. "A lot of people questioned why I went to a team that hadn't been to the playoffs in a while," said Delle Donne, who requested a trade from the Chicago Sky to the Mystics following the 2016 season. "And I saw it in Coach, I knew he was building something reallys special. That's why this means so much to get this with him." Thibault, the WNBA's winningest coach, initially made his mark with the Sun, taking that franchise to back-to-back Finals in 2004 and 2005, but coming up short in both attempts. Washington also won the title in front of a sellout at Washington's made-for-WNBA Entertainment and Sports Arena. In attendance: Wizards guards Bradley Beal and John Wall – both wearing Kristi Toliver jerseys – Wizards coach Scott Brooks and representing the highest court in the land, Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. While Delle Donne, who played a portion of this series with a herniated disk, had 21 points and nine rebounds, Meesseman was the star of the game and the series. The Belgian forward scored 15 of her team-high 22 points in the second half, including 11 in the third quarter, on her way to earning WNBA Finals MVP honors. Meeseman averaged 17.8 points and shot 57.1% from the field, including 9-for-13 in Game 5. Connecticut led 70-67 with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter. On Washington's next possession, Cloud drained a 3-pointer then followed it up with a two, giving Washington a 72-70 lead. Meesseman capped 13-2 run with another bucket, putting the Mystics up 80-72. "They were just better down the stretch, and defensively it wasn't anything more than they were really physical, and I thought that they were the physical team when they needed it most down the stretch in a close game," Sun coach Curt Miller said." Cloud had nine of her 18 points in the fourth quarter, and Kristi Tolliver, who recovered from sloppy play early in the third quarter, added 17 points for the Mystics. Washington made just 4 of 19 threes but outscored Connecticut 50-36 in points in the paint. "if you would have told me that, 'Crystal Ball Curt, what do you think Washington makes four threes tonight, how do you think the outcome is going to be?' And I would have told you, wow, we're in good shape," Miller said. "All series long we won the points-in-the-paint battle,and tonight they won clearly the points in the paint, and they just played very, very good one-on-one basketball." All-Star Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 25 points, and All-Star teammate Alyssa Jones had 21 points and 12 rebounds. Washington was playing in its second consecutive Finals after being swept by Seattle a year ago.