The News-Miner is checking in regularly with former West Valley High School and Oregon Ducks basketball standout Ruthy Hebard, who is spending her rookie year in the WNBA “wubble” in Florida with the Chicago Sky.
Ruthy Hebard ended her first regular season in the WNBA with her best performance of the season on Friday night as the Chicago Sky downed the Dallas Wings 95-88.
Hebard started the game and played 32 minutes, during which she scored 22 points, pulled in eight rebounds and blocked two shots. Hebard was named player of the game. Only teammate Cheyenne Parker scored higher, with 23 points.
The victory gave Chicago its first win in more than a week; the Sky ended the season 12-10 and are the sixth seed in the playoffs. They face No. 7 Connecticut in the first round of single-elimination games.
As her time in the WNBA “wubble” in Bradenton is winding down, Hebard said she’s focusing on the playoffs.
The team did finally get a break from their normal schedule of basketball, basketball and basketball with an outing to one of the Gulf of Mexico beaches about 20 minutes from the IMG Academy where the WNBA has been quarantined since July.
“It was much-needed,” Hebard said. “It was really nice and warm and fun. We went swimming and all that fun stuff. It was the warmest water I’ve ever been in,” noting her family has a cabin on Birch Lake.
Before Friday’s victory, Chicago had only won once in their previous seven games.
“We’re kind of struggling right now,” Hebard said in a phone interview Thursday. “Sometimes in the games, like last night (against the Atlanta Dream) we get up and then kind of let the lead fall.
“We watched film today so we played a lot better than our previous games in the first half of yesterday’s game, and then the second half, on the film, we looked pretty bad. But it’s all fixable things, so that’s good. We’ve just got to go out and do things like not foul, not sling the ball away.”
The first two games of the playoffs are single elimination, and Hebard said the team is focusing on winning both of those.
Hebard has already started making post-wubble plans. She’s heading to Ankara, Turkey, and is looking forward to playing with team Nesibe Aydin on the European circuit. “I’m super excited about that,” she said. “I know my parents are coming out for like three weeks, so that’s gonna be fun. I have a two-bedroom apartment to myself, so it’ll be nice to have some visitors after being here in the bubble. Hopefully everything is still safe and healthy over there.”
It will be her first trip to Turkey. Hebard said many WNBA players head overseas between seasons to play ball. She will be playing with another WNBA player in Turkey and some of her current Chicago teammates will be heading to Italy and Russia.
“Lots of the WNBA players are going to be going back to overseas after this, for sure,” she said. “A lot of people go overseas every year because you usually make more money overseas than you do in the WNBA.”
In the meantime, Hebard said Chicago is focusing on the playoffs and she’s happy to be on a team where the players are close and supportive of each other.
“Even Diamond (DeShields) and Z (Azura Stevens) who both left the bubble are still keeping in contact,” she said. “It’s good to know that even the girls that aren’t here with us are still watching and cheering us on and texting.”
Contact staff writer Julie Stricker at 459-7532.