Elena Delle Donne scored 22 points, and Ariel Atkins added 21, as the Washington Mystics defeated the Connecticut Sun, 95-86, in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
Courtney Williams led the Sun with 26 points, going 9-for-19 from the floor in a losing effort.
Delle Donne Stops Connecticut Rallies
For much of the second half, Washington looked like they were headed for a comfortable blowout victory. The Mystics were up nine at halftime, then pushed the lead out to 17 points in the third quarter.
But Connecticut fought back, climbing to within four points twice in the fourth quarter. Della Donne put a stop to both runs by answering with a basket of her own each time. A late 9-0 run from Washington finally put the game out of reach late.
“It feels great to know that I’m able to actually give everything I have,” Delle Donne told reporters. “Last playoffs, I gave everything I had, but that was about 70 percent. Just physically, I wasn’t there. So, [it’s good] to be back and to be feeling good, and to have my body working properly.”
The win comes a year after the Mystics were swept out of the finals by the Seattle Storm, making this the first WNBA Finals victory in franchise history. And while having Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman healthy is obviously making a difference for Washington this year, it may have been Atkins that put them over the top for their first Finals win.
Mystics Offense Too Much for Sun
The second-year guard hadn’t produced much in the semifinals against the Las Vegas Aces, but came up big on Sunday.
“It’s fun. I feel like this is what we play for,” Atkins said after the win. “Connecticut is a high-energy team. Everybody knows that. So being able to match that is really important.”
On the other side of the ball, Sun coach Curt Miller, noted that Washington’s weapons proved too much for his team to stop.
“Alyssa Thomas is an elite defender, and when she bodies up on 99 percent of the people in the league and they’ve picked up their dribble, she usually gets them stopped,” Miller told reporters. “But we all know that [Delle Donne’s] step-through in that last movement to the basket where she leans in and can create space and get her shot off is the only person in the world that does that.”
Game 2 of the WNBA Finals will take place on Tuesday night, and will once again be hosted by Washington. At FanDuel Sportsbook, the Mystics are an 8-point favorite in Game 2, and another win would put Washington just one game away from capturing its first WNBA title. The Sun are also looking for their first title, but are now a +750 underdog to come back and win the series.