The WNBA has a new champion.
Unfortunately for the Sun, the title won’t be heading back to Connecticut.
After battling the Mystics tooth and nail throughout the Finals, Connecticut came just short of winning it all, falling 89-78 in the fifth and final game of the series.
Despite incredible outings by Jonquel Jones (25 points, nine rebounds), Alyssa Thomas (21 points, 11 rebounds) and Courtney Williams (16 points), Washington still edged out the Sun thanks to clutch performances by Emma Meesseman (22 points) and, of course, Elena Delle Donne (21 points, nine rebounds). Delle Donne refused to let anything get in the way of her first WNBA title, coping with a herniated disk in her back throughout most of the Finals.
Not only is this the first championship in Mystics history, but it’s also the first WNBA Finals victory for both Delle Donne and head coach Mike Thibault. Meesseman was named the 2019 Finals MVP.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Courtney Williams
SG: Jasmine Thomas
SF: Shekinna Stricklen
PF: Alyssa Thomas
C: Jonquel Jones
SUN, MYSTICS TRADE LEADS
It a busy first quarter, to say the least.
The Sun wasted no time putting up eight points, taking a quick four-point lead.
The Mystics brought themselves within one shortly after, followed by a Kristi Toliver triple for the lead.
Jones knotted things at 15 with a little extra muscle in the paint.
Connecticut got into a bit of foul trouble early, leading the Sun to tap into their bench early. Washington pulled away a bit in the final moments of the first, but the Sun remained within striking distance.
Bria Holmes knocked down one-of-two free throws to bring the Sun within three. Connecticut ended the first down just 23-20.
The second was just as thrilling as the first.
After the Mystics grabbed a quick three points to kick off the quarter, the Sun found themselves on a 6-0 run.
It didn’t take long for Connecticut to tie things back up, keeping pace with Washington throughout the second. And before you knew it, Jones snatched the lead back for the Sun.
Both squads ran into foul trouble in the second. By the end of the quarter, Washington had 10 personal fouls while Connecticut had eight.
The Sun and the Mystics continued to trade buckets through the latter half of the second, with neither team able to find much daylight. But with time winding down, Jones gave the Sun a 43-40 lead with a gorgeous shot from beyond the arc.
Washington got two points back before the buzzer sounded to end the half, making it 43-42 with 20 minutes left to go in the 2019 season.
The third quarter hasn’t been the Sun’s strong suit of late. While that changed this time around, the Mystics still managed to make it interesting.
The Sun started the third on yet another run, outscoring the Mystics 10-2 early in the third.
Jones added to the lead with another two points to make it 53-47.
But Washington persisted, making it a two-point game midway through the third.
The Sun managed to find some space for a moment, regaining a brief five-point lead.
The Sun clung to a slim lead in the final moments of the third, but the Mystics tied things up at 58.
The Mystics continued to battle as the clock wound down, but Connecticut edged out a two-point lead to close out the third.
Just like that, it was 64-62 with just one quarter to go.
THIS IS IT
Neither squad would go down without a fight in the final 10 minutes of the season.
Washington wasted no time taking back the lead, going on a 5-0 run to start the fourth. The Sun countered with four points of their own to retake the lead.
The Mystics pushed back once again, tying it at 70-70 less than four minutes into the fourth.
Washington maintained its momentum, taking an eight-point lead with less than three minutes left.
The Mystics took control in the final moments of the game, opening up an 11-point lead with just 28 seconds remaining.
Connecticut’s efforts fell just short of its elusive first WNBA title, falling 89-78 to the Mystics after a brutal five-game battle.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The dagger from none other than EDD herself.
The Sun enter the offseason coming off one of their best seasons in franchise history. But come 2020, there will be just one goal in mind: avenge this Finals loss.
Thumbnail photo via Brad Mills/USA TODAY Sports Images