Olympic gold medalist Elena Delle Donne helped the Washington Mystics clinch the team’s first WNBA title with a 89-78 win over the Connecticut Sun on Thursday night.
Despite playing with a back injury, Delle Donne scored 21 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, while also collecting two assists and two blocks in the Game 5 victory in front of the Mystics’ hometown crowd.
The game was back and forth until the fourth quarter, when the Mystics went on an 11-2 run that led to an 80-72 lead, their largest of the game, with just under three minutes to play.
Delle Donne, 30, was a big part of that. A driving layup gave the Mystics a 67-64 lead and then later her jump shot made it 78-72 as victory grew closer.
Coming off her second WNBA MVP honors, Delle Donne scored 22 points in a Game 1 win but left Game 2 with no points and a herniated disc as the Sun evened up the series. Delle Donne returned for Game 3, a 94-81 victory. With a chance to close out the series in Game 4, the Mystics overcame a 16-point deficit at halftime and trailed by just a point in the final minute but lost 90-86, forcing the tie-breaking fifth game.
Delle Donne had 13 points in Game 3 and 11 points in Game 4.
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The win caps off a dominant season from Delle Donne, who ranked second in the league in scoring (19.5 points per game) and fifth in rebounding (8.3 per game) and became the first WNBA player to shoot at least 50 percent from the field (51.5 percent), 40 percent from 3-point range (43 percent) and 90 percent from the line (97.4 percent, best in the league).
She also was named to her fourth All-WNBA First Team and her fifth All-WNBA team overall.
Delle Donne is 26-0 with the U.S. national team and averaged 8.6 points per game in helping the U.S. win an Olympic gold medal in 2016. She is one of eight players who committed to participate in the 2019-20 expanded training program announced on July 27.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.