WNBA Finals 2019 game-by-game recap and social media reaction: Mystics defeat Sun in 5

Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images

What was a monumental WNBA Finals concluded with a Monumental ending.

Game 5 of the WNBA Finals enthralled many a basketball fan … and raised the blood pressures of many a fan who viewed from opening tip to final buzzer.

The Connecticut Sun led the Mystics 64-62 after three frames. As it turned out, Washington had the Sun right where it wanted them. With the score tied at 72 in the fourth quarter, the Mystics embarked on an 8-0 scoring binge with just over five minutes to play. That scoring run came at just the right time for Washington as they maintained (and increased) its margin for the remainder of the contest and as a result, the Mystics are the 2019 WNBA champions.

When the Finals commenced, most predicted that the Mystics would defeat the Sun in four or five games and that Elena Delle Donne would add Finals MVP to her regular season MVP crown ala what Breanna Stewart did last season with the Seattle Storm.

As it turned out, it wasn’t EDD that was MVP, but Belgium’s very own Emma Meesseman instead. Meesseman didn’t play for Washington last season as she sat out the 2018 campaign to focus on representing her home country in that year’s World Cup.

She was back for the Mystics this year – and made all the difference. In Game 5, Meesseman scored 22 points and went 9 of 13 from the field along with three assists and two steals.

Washington was +14 with Meesseman on the floor. Oh, by the way….she came off the bench.

It cannot be understated how important Meesseman was to the Mystics’ efforts – not only in the Finals but all season.

Elena Delle Donne’s presence helped major as well. At one point, it was not even known if she would even play the remainder of the series after she injured her back in Game 2. She still scored 21 points in Game 5, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out a pair of assists.

Natasha Cloud and Kristi Toliver each scored 18 points as well.

The championship could not have been any more ironic for one Mike Thibault. He was the coach who led the Sun for many years before arriving at the Washington job, then goes on to defeat the very team he was a longtime coach for en route to a championship.

As for the team’s owner, Ted Leonsis, two of his teams in the last couple of seasons have brought championships to the DMV. The Washington Capitals last season won a Stanley Cup. With the Mystics’ WNBA championship, this means that the Wizards are on the clock to complete the Monumental Sports trifecta.

Two of those Wizards, John Wall and Bradley Beal, were in attendance at the DC Entertainment and Sports Arena in support of D.C’s WNBA team and their Monumental sisters.

One element of the contest that irked many an onlooker were the degree at which the referees were calling fouls. Many on social media believed the officials should have swallowed their whistles given it was a series-deciding Game 5 after all.

The multi-year build to a championship in Washington commenced after the 2016 season when the Mystics went 13-21. After that season, there was a lot of speculation that Delle Donne, in the process of departing from the Chicago Sky, probably wanted to play for Washington to be close to her native Delaware.

Washington got Delle Donne and also got Toliver in that same offseason. In 2017, the Mystics advanced to the WNBA semifinals. Last season, Washington played in its first-ever WNBA Finals before being swept by the Seattle Storm.

After the last two seasons, it was title or bust for the Mystics. The result was a title – the Mystics’ first-ever crown.

As for the Connecticut Sun, Jonquel Jones (who had four fouls at a critical juncture of the game) finished the season with a 25-point effort while going 10-16 from the field. She also had nine rebounds. Alyssa Thomas scored 21 with 12 rebounds, six assists and two steals. Courtney Williams finished with 16 points.

Game 1

Three of the games contested in the series were at the ESA. One of those was Game 1, which was also claimed by the home team.

Washington took care of home as the series opened on Sept. 29 by virtue of its 95-86 victory over the Sun. The win for the Mystics occurred despite the team coming off a taxing four-game affair with the Las Vegas Aces in its leg of the WNBA semifinals while Connecticut made short work in its three-game get-together of what was an out-of-sorts Los Angeles Sparks team whose players and front office were not in the same bookstore let alone reading the same book.

Five Mystics were in double-digits for points, led by Delle Donne’s 22 (she also brought down 10 rebounds, was spreading the wealth with five assists and rejected a pair of Connecticut attempts.

Ariel Atkins chimed in with 21 points plus five assists. Kristi Toliver scored 18 in the series opener and dished out five assists of her own. Cloud also put in seven assists along with scoring 13 points while Meesseman scored 11.

For Connecticut, Williams scored 26 in addition to five assists. Alyssa Thomas added 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and five steals. Shekinna Stricklen scored 13 and Jones finished with 12 plus six rebounds and four assists.

Game 2

It was in Game 2 where it looked like everything had changed.

The pregame chatter going into Game 2 at the DC ESA was that the series could be as good as over if the Mystics take a commanding 2-0 lead despite Games 3 and 4 being in Uncasville.

Instead, it was when Delle Donne’s injury took place and when Jonquel Jones happened.

There was just too much Jones for the Mystics to contend with in Game 2 and the home fans were not exactly sent home happy as the Sun won the second contest.

Jones finished with 32 points on 13-24 shooting in addition to 18 rebounds and three blocks. Connecticut was a robust +25 with her on the floor.

Complimenting Jones dropping 30 was Williams’ 22 points in addition to six assists. Alyssa Thomas scored 21 to go along with 12 rebounds and six assists.

Washington’s bench did the most it could to keep itself afloat – including the 23 points, eight rebounds and three assists that came courtesy of Meesseman. Tianna Hawkins also added 16 points and six rebounds off the bench while Aerial Powers had 11 points.

One of the Mystics starters – Toliver – scored 13 points and sent out seven assists.

Game 3

WNBA fans far and wide complained why were there so many days between Game 2 in in the District and Game 3 in the Constitution State as the scene shifted to Connecticut for Games 3 and 4.

As it turned out, that long layoff may have been Washington’s best friend as it allowed Delle Donne ample time to be ready to play in Game 3. After all, the whole direction of the series hinged on the status of Delle Donne’s injury.

Heading into the game, Delle Donne’s status was listed as questionable, but something had to tell many a WNBA fan that she was going to find a way to get on that court and suit up for her team at Mohegan Sun Arena. She is a competitor after all that has established a Hall of Fame resume already in the W and the one accomplishment that has eluded her between her career in Chicago and Washington has been a WNBA championship.

She – and the rest of her Mystics – played like it in Game 3 as they opened the tilt with a 32-17 advantage. The Sun came back to outscore the Mystics 22-11 in the second quarter, but when the triple zeroes read on the scoreboard, Washington would officially get itself within one win shy of the franchise’s first-ever WNBA title.

Delle Donne played 26 minutes and scored 13 points with six rebounds. Toliver did typical Toliver things in the Nutmeg State as she scored 20 points to go along with 10 assists and made all four of her three-point tries. Cloud had 19 points.

Jasmine Thomas and Shekinna Stricklen were the Sun’s leading point-getters as both contributed 16 to the Connecticut cause. Thomas also added six assists. Bria Holmes added 15 with three steals in 22 minutes off the bench. Alyssa Thomas scored 13 with eight rebounds and nine assists.

Game 4

Game 3 gave the Mystics a much-needed second wind and with their regular season MVP on the floor, they had hoped to close things out in New England.

New England’s team was not having it.

Just as the Mystics jumped out to a 32-17 advantage after the first frame of Game 3, Connecticut returned the favor in Game 4. It became awfully tense after three periods as the two teams were all knotted up at 86. With under three minutes to play, “Playoff Emma” tied things up at 84 as she drained one from behind the arc. Stricklen responded shortly afterwards with a trey of her own.

It was 87-86 with 2:10 remaining. The score remained such until Jasmine Thomas was fouled by Cloud with 18 seconds remaining. She made both of her free throw tries, putting the Sun ahead 89-86.

Alyssa Thomas also made one of two from the line after Powers fouled her as the Sun’s lead increased to 90-86.

All five starters for the Sun had double-digit point totals. Jones scored 18 and hauled in 13 rebounds. Alyssa Thomas scored 17 to go along with 11 assists and eight rebounds. Williams had 16 as well as seven rebounds and four assists. Stricklen scored 15 and made three of her six from behind the arc. Jasmine Thomas contributed 14 and also had five assists.

Powers led Washington scoring-wise with 15. She also had three assists. Atkins scored 14 as she made three of her six from downtown. Cloud added 13 to go with seven rebounds and nine assists. Meesseman scored 12 and also had five assists. Delle Donne added 11 and had five rebounds.

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