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.
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.