League MVP Elena Delle Donne, playing with a herniated disk, led the Mystics to their first championship Thursday night, producing 21 points and nine rebounds in Washington's 89-78 victory over the visiting Connecticut Sun in the decisive Game 5 of the WNBA Finals.

Emma Meesseman finished with a team-high 22 points off the bench for the Mystics, putting the finishing touches on a series performance that earned her Finals Most Valuable Player despite sharing the ball with the regular-season MVP.

"I just wanted to do whatever I could to help my team win a championship," Meesseman said after the game. "This is my family. I want to share this honor with them. I love them."

Natasha Cloud finished with 18 points for Washington, and Kristi Toliver also had 18 points, 10 in the fourth quarter.

The title also proves the ultimate redemption for the Mystics, who were swept by the Seattle Storm in last year's Finals.

Washington's coach Mike Thibault, who has the most regular-season wins in league history (336), captured his first WNBA title.

"A lot of people questioned why I went to a team that had not been to the playoffs in a while," Delle Donne told reporters after the game of her decision in 2017 to ask to be traded from Chicago after four seasons. "I saw the coach. I knew he had something really special. That's why it means so much to get this with him."

Connecticut's Jonquel Jones played through foul trouble most of the game yet still finished with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds. Alyssa Thomas had 21 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. She finished with a Finals-record 38 assists in the series. Courtney Williams finished with 16 points.

The game, which was tight until the final minutes, featured nine lead changes and 15 ties. The previous four games in the series had a total of 12 ties and six lead changes.

A 13-2 run in the fourth quarter behind five points from Cloud and four by Delle Donne proved to be the difference with the Mystics taking an 80-72 lead with 2:54 left in regulation.

"We got them in foul trouble," Thibault told reporters. "Emma went to work inside. Elena does what she does, and our guards got out and defended them. You have to beat them by defending Courtney Williams, Jasmine (Thomas) and those guys. We did that. All the players that are meant to step up and be big-time players stepped up in the fourth quarter when we needed it."

Delle Donne, a 6-foot-5 forward who averaged 21.4 points in Washington's first five playoff games, left the Game 2 loss to Connecticut early in the first quarter without scoring a point. She put up 13 points in a Game 3 win and 11 in a Game 4 loss on Tuesday.

Connecticut scored eight straight points to take a 53-44 lead -- its biggest advantage in the game -- with 6:39 left in the third quarter. Jones made a cutting layup to cap that sequence, but she committed her fourth foul on Washington's next possession that ended with Delle Donne converting a three-point play to cut the deficit to 53-47.

With Jones on the bench, Washington rallied with four more points by Meesseman to pull within 53-51. Meesseman had 11 points in the quarter, helping the Mystics tie the game twice with Jones still out. Connecticut led 64-62 going into the fourth quarter.

Jones was back on the floor to start the fourth quarter when Cloud made a 3-pointer and Delle Donne converted a layup to put Washington ahead 67-64 with 8:57 left.

--Field Level Media

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