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Delle Donne Returns; Mystics Are on Cusp of W.N.B.A. Title

“Go check in,” he said to his star, who returned to the game.

She played 26 minutes over all, and did not miss a shot until the fourth quarter, finishing with 13 points, 6 rebounds, an assist and a block.

By the end of the first quarter, the Mystics led, 32-17, nearly a copy of their 30-17 lead after one quarter of Game 1 and Connecticut’s 29-17 lead after one quarter of Game 2.

“All three games have been decided in the first quarter, essentially,” Sun Coach Curt Miller said after the game. “There hasn’t been a close first quarter in this series yet.”

Delle Donne’s teammates supported her at every turn. Cloud aggressively looked for her shot, finishing with 19 points, 4 assists and no turnovers, while shutting down Courtney Williams of the Sun, something no defender had managed in the playoffs. Williams had 6 points on 2-of-9 shooting. The Mystics’ Kristi Toliver, who shot 6-for-20 in Game 2, posted 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting in Game 3.

Even so, the Sun fought back. In a first half in which Jonquel Jones, the team’s dominant force in Game 2, didn’t score until 1 minute 20 seconds left and the Sun missed their first seven 3-point attempts, a late 12-0 run, including 3s by Shekinna Stricklen and Jasmine Thomas, cut the margin to 41-39. Toliver’s runner at the buzzer extended Washington’s halftime lead to 43-39.

But even with Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins limited by their injuries, the Mystics rode their remarkable depth to victory. Washington got 36 points from its bench, including 4 points and 8 rebounds from Aerial Powers in 23 minutes.

And Emma Meesseman, who would be a starter for most teams but is the designated Delle Donne understudy with the Mystics, scored a game-high 21, including three 3s early in the fourth that largely put the game away.

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