Ruthy Hebard posts second career double-double and first ‘SportsCenter Top Ten’ play in Chicago Sky win

Updated: May. 20, 2021 at 9:16 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - A dream for most athletes - young and old - is to be featured on ESPN’s beloved ‘SportsCenter Top Ten′, a showcase of the day’s best plays from around the world of sports. Fairbanks’ Ruthy Hebard had her highlight featured on the established segment Thursday in her second season with the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. With the first-quarter clock winding down, Hebard tracked down a loose ball on the baseline about a foot inside the three-point arc - and in one motion - turned around and released a moon shot above the outstretched arm of the defender, getting the ball to drop as the buzzer went off. ESPN Anchor Neil Everett, also a former Oregon Duck, made the call as the number five play in the Top Ten.

While that sequence stole the show, Hebard produced throughout all four quarters on her way to one of her best WNBA performances.

During pre-game shootaround, Sky starting forward Candace Parker tweaked her ankle and was ruled out for Wednesday’s game against the Dream in Atlanta. Just moments before tip-off, Hebard got the nod to start in place of the former WNBA MVP and made the most of her opportunity.

The former West Valley High School standout scored 18 points, hauled in 10 rebounds, blocked three shots and dished out three assists across 33 minutes of action, lifting the Sky to a 88-77 win, improving to 2-0 on the young season.

“I felt good, James [Wade] does a good job of always keeping us ready,” Hebard said at the postgame press conference of getting the last minute start. “I try to come into every game expecting to play 30 minutes or three minutes, whatever happens, just be ready for it when I get my chance.”

While Hebard has only participated in a handful of practices, one preseason game and one regular-season game ahead of Wednesday’s win, she already appears to be in mid-season form. Less than 25 games into her WNBA career, Sky head coach James Wade has no problem plugging in the second-year pro when need be, starting Hebard in six games last year.

“She is right behind me, so I don’t never want to say how satisfied [I am with her],” Wade said as he shared a laugh with Hebard. “I am hard on Ruthy sometimes, but I have to give her her flowers when it is due, she had a great game. We were so happy when she got off the plane from Turkey and now she is here with us. She is doing good things, she is great to coach, you can see it on the floor with her energy and her enthusiasm and what she brings to the game. She is very coachable and we just really appreciate her game tonight.”

As General Manager, Wade selected Hebard 8th overall in the 2020 WNBA Draft and has been working with her to reach her potential since she first put on the Chicago practice jersey.

“He’s right, he is really hard on me and I think that is what makes me the player that I am,” Hebard said. “I just want to get better and want to be able to contribute more and more because I know...I think he knows my potential and I just want to get there eventually.”

Controlling the paint and the pace, the Sky sprinted out to 46-26 halftime advantage, only for the lead to be cut in half by the end of the third quarter. Chicago held sturdy in the fourth, grinding out the victory on the road.

“We are fighters and we have a really good team from the starters down to the bench. We can count on each other, when someone falls down, someone else is going to pick them up.” Hebard added.

Up next for the Sky, the New York Liberty on Sunday where Hebard will face off against former Oregon teammate and No. 1 overall pick Sabrina Ionescu for the first time in their professional careers.

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