Hebard plays hero for Oregon in NCAA tourney win over Temple

March 18, 2017

Ruthy Hebard basketball

Ruthy Hebard

Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks played hero for the University of Oregon, helping the Ducks earn the school’s first win in the NCAA Tournament since 2005.

The 6-foot-4 freshman and former Alaska player of the year scored the go-ahead bucket with 5.5 seconds left and then blocked a shot attempt at the buzzer to secure No. 10 Oregon’s 71-70 win over No. 7 Temple in the first round in Durham, North Carolina.

“I was kidding Ruthy, this might be the best five seconds of her life,” Ducks coach Kelly Graves said in a postgame press conference.

Oregon will face No. 2 Duke on its home court at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday.

Hebard, of West Valley High fame, finished with 23 points – one shy of Oregon’s single-game NCAA Tournament record set by Alison Lang in 1982 against Missouri.

The winning basket was designed for Hebard after a timeout. Graves wanted the ball in her hands.

The play the Ducks dialed up had Hebard involved in a pick-and-roll, where she peeled off a screen wide open and caught the ball near the lane for a runner from about eight feet.

Temple inbounded the ball to speedy guard Feyonda Fitzgerald, who raced coast-to-coast and nearly converted the winning layup if Hebard hadn’t been there to block her layup attempt.

The All-Pac-12 forward said she “just swung my arm and hoped I didn’t foul.”