WASHINGTON – With the Connecticut Sun rallying, Elena Delle Donne wouldn’t be denied down the stretch for the Washington Mystics in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
The league’s MVP scored two big baskets for Washington after Connecticut had cut its deficit to four in the fourth quarter and the Mystics held off the Sun 95-86 on Sunday.
“It’s nice to have a weapon like that that can make those plays because there’s not very many that can,” Washington coach Mike Thibault said.
Delle Donne scored 22 points and Ariel Atkins had 21 for the Mystics, who earned their first finals win in franchise history. They were swept last year by Seattle in their only other appearance in the championship round. Delle Donne was battling a bone bruise in last year’s finals.
“It feels great to know that I’m able to actually give everything I have,” Delle Donne said. “Last playoffs I gave everything I had, but that was about 70 percent. Just physically I wasn’t there. So, to be back and to be feeling good and to have my body working properly.”
Kristi Toliver, who suffered her own bone bruise this year, added 18 points for the Mystics. Game 2 of the best-of-five series is Tuesday night in Washington.
The Mystics were up nine at the half and extended the lead to 17 in the third quarter before Connecticut rallied within four twice in the final period. Delle Donne – the league’s MVP – answered each time for Washington with a basket. Her jumper with 4:56 left made it 82-76 and started a 9-0 run to put the game out of reach.
Courtney Williams scored 26 points and Alyssa Thomas added 20 to lead Connecticut, playing the finals for the first time since 2005.
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