Monumental moment: Hebard, Pili go head-to-head in Pac-12

February 17, 2020
Ruthy Hebard and Alissa Pili basketball

Ruthy Hebard and Alissa Pili

As generational players from the same era, Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks and Alissa Pili of Anchorage will forever be linked.

Together they have lifted Alaska women’s basketball to new heights.

And even though they did not face each other in the only year they were in high school at the same time, they both wound up in the Pac-12, so it was only a matter of time before their paths crossed.

It finally happened in Los Angeles, California, where the No. 3 Oregon Ducks beat the USC Trojans 93-67. Both Alaskans started and played 36 minutes.

Hebard, a 6-foot-4 senior at Oregon, finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. Pili, a 6-foot freshman at USC, produced 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Rivals on the court but friends off it, Hebard and Pili hugged each other in the handshake line after the game in a true sign of friendship and respect.

It was a monumental moment for Alaska basketball, with two of the state’s greatest players going head-to-head in one of college basketball’s greatest conferences.

Hebard, of West Valley High fame, is Alaska’s all-time leading scorer (2,246) at the NCAA D1 level. Pili, of Dimond High fame, is Alaska’ all-time leading scorer (2,614) among high school girls.

In the Pac-12, Hebard ranks No. 4 in points per game (17.2), with Pili No. 8 at 14.8. Hebard leads the conference in rebounds per game (9.6), with Pili No. 4 at 8.0. Hebard leads the conference in field-goal percentage (.679), with Pili No. 12 at .488.

They are focal points of the offense, star players opposing coaches plot to contain defensively. Hebard was coming off a 30-point, 17-rebound effort. Pili was coming off a 26-point, 13-rebound performance.

Early on, Pili had the upper hand. She stole the ball away from Hebard and later knocked down a jumper to give the Trojans a 7-0 lead. But Hebard answered with back-to-back buckets to make it 7-5.

In the second quarter, Pili was called for a foul after trying to block Hebard’s shot. Hebard made both free throws to put Oregon ahead 27-19. She scored six points in an 8-0 run that pushed the lead to 36-24.

Hebard had 10 of her team’s 23 points in the second quarter.

Both Alaskans were neutralized in the third quarter as each defense seemed to key on them.

Hebard made a jumper to push the lead to 51-32 – the largest for Oregon to that point.

Other than that, though, Hebard and Pili were held in check. They were on the court, but not scoring or rebounding.

That changed in the fourth quarter.

Pili opened the final frame with two field goals, a jumper and then worked around Hebard one-on-one in the post for a bucket that made it 75-54.

Hebard secured her 13th double-double of the season and the 52nd of her career.

She is one of the most accomplished post players in the country, a 6-foot-4 power forward who is always in the right place at the right time.

That was the case than when she stepped in front of a pass intended for Pili for a steal and coast-to-coast layup to make it 79-57.

On the very next possession, Pili scored off an offensive rebound. She later was fouled by Hebard in the act of shooting and drained two free throws.

Pili is a strong candidate for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year.

Hebard was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team in 2017 and is looking to earn All-Pac-12 honors for the fourth straight year.

Historically, they are on a very short list among Alaska women to post the most points and rebounds in a single game at the NCAA D1 level.

Most Rebounds Game
18 Jessica Moore (Palmer) Connecticut 2003
18 Azella Perryman (Anchorage) Stanford 2003
18 Ruthy Hebard (Fairbanks) Oregon 2019
17 Kelsey Griffin (Eagle River) Nebraska 2010
17 Alissa Pili (Anchorage) USC 2020

Most Points Game
42 Talisa Rhea (Juneau) Oregon State 2009
36 Kelsey Griffin (Eagle River) Nebraska 2010
34 Brit Jacobson (Eagle River) Kansas State 1994
34 Ruthy Hebard (Fairbanks) Oregon 2019
33 Chandice Cronk (Wasilla) Santa Clara 2007
29 Andrea Lloyd (Juneau) Texas 1984
28 Alissa Pili (Anchorage) USC 2020

Gatorade Alaska Player of the Year
3 Ruthy Hebard (Fairbanks) West Valley 2014-2016
3 Alissa Pili (Anchorage) Dimond 2017-2019