The Mystics clinched the final game of the best-of-five series over the Connecticut Sun with a 89-78 win at Entertainment and Sports Arena. “A choppy, foul-laden affair” was how The Post’s Ava Wallace described the game, and it seemed the outcome could go either way until the Mystics, propelled by pure will, had a decisive 8-0 run to give them a 80-72 lead with less than three minutes to play.
There were standout performances from Emma Meesseman — 22 points and the finals’ most valuable player — and Elena Delle Donne, 21 points, despite playing hurt with three herniated discs. But the victory, 22 seasons after the franchise was founded as an expansion team, was truly a team effort, made all the sweeter coming after the years of disappointment and missed opportunities. Or, as Mike Thibault, coach and general manager, described it, “a pretty desperate time here.”
Mr. Thibault was hired in December 2012 to turn things around, and the team’s success shows what a well-run franchise can deliver. Credit to owner Ted Leonsis — whose Washington Capitals ended a major pro sports drought with its 2018 Stanley Cup win — for hiring good people, letting them do the hard work of building a team and, perhaps even more importantly, recognizing the responsibility to be a good member of the community. This was the first year the team played in a new arena in Ward 8, an often neglected part of the city, and Mystics officials and team members have said they hope their presence and involvement in the neighborhood will help bring about change.
No question that Thursday’s victory got attention. “Congrats to the @WashMystics on a gutsy, first-ever championship!,” tweeted former president Barack Obama. “A great team performance when it counted. If folks aren’t careful, this title thing might become a habit in DC.” With the Washington Nationals advancing in the playoffs, we — fingers crossed — hope Mr. Obama is on to something.