Ruthy Hebert will score a lot more points in her Duck career, but none might not be as important as the two she scored with 5.5 seconds left to give Oregon a 71-70 win over Temple Saturday night in Durham, NC.
The victory advanced the Ducks into the second round of the NCAA tournament where they will face Duke on Monday.
It was a game typical of a 7-10 matchup where both teams saw their fair share of time with the lead and a bunch of lead changes. There were three lead changes in the final minute alone. Fortunately the last lead change was in Oregon’s favor.
Sabrina Ionescu hit an eight-foot jumper with 1:07 left to bring the Ducks to within one at 68-67. After a defensive stop, Ionescu hit the exact same shot with 27 seconds left to give her team a 69-68 lead. Temple’s Feyonda Fitzgerald answered Ionescu’s jumper with a jumper of her own with 12 seconds left.
Down 70-69, most thought Oregon coach Kelly Graves would call upon his star freshman one more time. As it turned out, he called upon his other star. Hebert was able to get open four feet away from the hoop and she promptly dropped the ball in the hoop.
Temple was out of timeouts and tried to call a timeout, which should have been a technical foul. Luckily for the Owls, the refs either missed or flatly ignored the request. Fitzgerald took the inbounds pass and raced down the floor. She ran into the extending arms of both Herbert and Mallory McGwire and the potential game-winning shot missed its mark, setting up a date with the Blue Devils, despite a 28-point effort from Temple’s Alliah Butts.
Hebard led the way with 23 points and seven rebounds. Ionescu found her range in the second half by scoring 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists after being held to just three points in the first 20 minutes of action. McGwire added a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.
~ Don Smalley