There will be a decisive Game 5 in the WNBA Finals.
The Connecticut Sun staved off elimination Tuesday night by beating the Washington Mystics 90-86 in front of 8,458 fans at Mohegan Sun.
Even though the Sun led much of the game, Washington pushed Connecticut to the brink by taking a five-point lead with six minutes to go. Connecticut roared back. Jasmine Thomas played a big role in that effort, scoring half of her 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“It means a lot. It means everything – just how hard we fight [and] how much this means to us,” Thomas said. “We talked about this whole playoff time, us being disrespected and people think that we’re just going to give up easy and we’re not. We’re going to fight every single second because we deserve to win a championship as well.”
The crowd, armed with plastic ‘thunder sticks,’ was loud throughout. Mohegan Sun Arena proved to be a hostile environment for opposing teams with the Sun finishing 18-3 there in 2019.
One of the losses came in Game 3 last Sunday. Head coach Curt Miller was happy with how his team and the crowd responded.
“[The fans] showed up both nights,” Miller said. “It’s been a really, really successful year at home for us, so for us to be able to send it back to Washington is really exciting for us.”
It was clear that Connecticut was feeding off the crowd from the opening tip. The Sun won that and scored immediately. The team scored 32 points in the first quarter, which was the most Connecticut had ever scored in the opening quarter of a playoff game.
The dominance continued into the half with the Sun taking a 16-point lead. The Mystics came out of the locker room scoring the first six points. Washington tied the game in the final seconds of the third quarter.
Just when it looked like the Mystics had all the momentum, that’s when Jasmine Thomas and the Sun stepped up.
“We talked about that the whole second half in all of our huddles. We talked about defense and stops as what was going to win this game,” Thomas said.
The Sun didn’t allow a single point in the final two minutes of the game.
Game 5 between Connecticut and Washington will be Thursday at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.
Reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne has been dealing with a herniated disc in her back. That injury forced her to miss most of Game 2. She played 30 minutes Tuesday and sounded hopeful about playing Thursday night. She said she felt loose in Game 4 and that hopefully she’ll feel better for Game 5.
When she was asked after the game about the prospect of playing a Game 5 on her home court, Delle Donne said she’d rather have won in four.
“That’s hard to say, but I think it’s great for the league, it’s great for fans, it’s great to get more people excited for our game, so for that I’m grateful,” Delle Donne said. “People better be tuning in because this is some great basketball and some really good teams.”