Ruthy Hebard posts first WNBA double-double in career night

Published: Sep. 1, 2020 at 7:49 PM AKDT
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Monday night belonged to Chicago point guard Courtney Vandersloot, who broke a nearly two-decade old WNBA record when she dished out 18 assists in the Sky’s 100-77 win over the Indiana Fever.

Scanning the box score, the league’s lone Alaskan player, Ruthy Hebard, also had encouraging numbers pop off the screen.

Fairbanks-native Ruthy Hebard recorded her first professional double-double with career-highs of 12 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. It was the second start of Hebard’s young career, outperforming her first nod on August 16, where she had four points in 10 minutes of action.

“I think the first time I started, I was definitely nervous and didn’t play as well as I wanted to,” Hebard said of her first career start last month. “Yesterday [Monday] I was kind of like, ’okay, I am just going to go out and do it, I am not going to think about it, I am just going to go out and do it’ and I think that helped.”

The former West Valley High School standout has seen her minutes increase throughout the season, peaking with 29 minutes on the floor in Monday’s win. Head Coach and General Manager of the Sky, James Wade, has been impressed with Hebard through 17 career games.

“She’s a sponge, you see the progression every game,” said Wade, who selected Hebard 8th overall in April’s draft. “The one thing we like about her, when you see a player you say, ‘how good do you think they can be in this league?’. The fact that she hasn’t taken any steps back and that she’s only pushed forward, pushed forward, pushed forward, she’s gained my trust, more and more after each game. I think it says a lot about her potential and a lot about where she is right now.” Wade added.

Beyond personal bests in minutes, points and rebounds, Hebard also notched career-highs of two blocks and six made field goals (6-8 FG).

Vandersloot, a 10-year veteran in the league, tallied her record-tying 16th assist in the game after dumping a pass to Hebard down low for the basket. She expressed how Hebard has been able to contribute to the team in the early stages of her career.

“Ruthy has been awesome, she just continues to get better throughout the season,” said Vandersloot, who now holds the WNBA record for most assists in a game. “She really has stepped up for us when we really needed her the most. I think we’re going to continue to use her and she’s only gonna get better...she really showed what she could do at this level and that was huge for us.”

All 11 of Hebard’s rebounds in Monday’s game came on the defensive glass and was also a team-high. Chicago was aware of her glass cleaning ability coming out of Oregon, where she hauled in 1,299 career boards, good for third all-time in Ducks history.

“I think having that little spark when you go grab the rebound helps a lot, that’s something coach wants me to do.” Ruthy said on Tuesday. “So, I’m like ’he knows I can do it, so I might as well go out and do it.’ He’s really happy about that and I’m really happy that. That’s something I can control, my rebounding, so I’m just going to try and do that every game.”

Hebard, along with the rest of the Sky, arrived at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida in July in preparation of the condensed season. In an unusual rookie year, Hebard has made strides since she joined the team.

“At first in practice I would just bump into people and I was like, ’I don’t know where to go’ because in college I was just low post,” Hebard said. “Now, just moving with Cheyenne [Parker], moving with Steph [Stephanie Dolson], just stuff like that is something I am really proud of myself for getting better at.”

Hebard’s rookie campaign is nearing a close with just five game remaining on the regular season schedule. The top eight teams in the WNBA make the postseason, with the 11-6 Chicago Sky currently sitting in fifth place.

On Wednesday, the Sky face the Minnesota Lynx (11-5) at 11 a.m. AKDT for a contest with playoff implications.

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