The No. 2 Oregon women’s basketball team (24-2, 13-1) is adjusting to playing without last year’s national power forward of the year, Ruthy Hebard, who was injured in Oregon’s loss at No. 12 Oregon State on Monday — the Ducks’ first loss of Pac-12, snapping a 17-game win streak.
The Ducks announced on Wednesday that Hebard’s MRI showed “no structural damage” in her right knee, and listed the junior as “questionable” for the weekend. But, Hebard won’t practice this week so the Ducks are going about their preparation for UCLA (16-10, 9-5) on Friday and USC (15-10, 5-9) on Sunday with Hebard not in the plans.
“It could run into some time. Not completely out of the woods yet,” said head coach Kelly Graves, citing the injury as a bone bruise. “I’m just happy for her that there’s no structural damage because then you’re talking months and that’s not good for anybody.”
The Ducks went with a small five on the court in Corvallis on Monday after Hebard’s injury, slotting senior Oti Gildon into the fold and Erin Boley and Satou Sabally into post positions. Oregon expects to do the same without Hebard.
“I have full faith in our group, it’s just for whatever reason it wasn’t clicking the other night,” Graves said. “Now that we have some time to practice without Ruthy, we can work on some other things and be a little bit more prepared.”
It will also be senior weekend for the Ducks, meaning one last regular season hoorah for Gildon and fellow senior Maite Cazorla.
“I’m gonna try not to cry,” Gildon said. “I’m not much of a crier but we’ll see what happens. I might shed a tear or two.”
Cazorla and Gildon have been through it all with the Ducks. The two were on Oregon’s 2015-16 run to the WNIT semifinals. A year later, the team, as the No. 10 seed, made a run to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight before doing the same a year later as a No. 2 seed.
“When I got here, the coaches said to me, ‘hey, by your junior or senior year we hope to be good, we hope to sell out the arena,’” Cazorla said. “It’s crazy how it’s my senior year, [freshman year] feels like yesterday.”
It most likely won’t be the last game for these seniors at Matthew Knight Arena as the Ducks are still in strong position to host the first two games of the NCAA Tournament again.
“I’m glad it’s not going to be my last, last home game,” Gildon said.
The Ducks will still have some teams to beat before they can reminisce with the seniors. UCLA doesn’t strike the same threat it has in past seasons, which included a tough Pac-12 Tournament semifinal last year. But, the Bruins are still 9-5 in conference and are fifth in the Pac-12.
USC, the ninth-placed team in the Pac-12, doesn’t pose much of a threat this year, and with the Ducks undefeated at home this season, Oregon’s expected to sweep the weekend.
Tip between the Ducks and Bruins is set for 8 p.m. on Friday and tip between the Ducks and Trojans is set for 11 a.m. on Sunday as Oregon looks to respond to its first loss of conference play.
Follow Shawn Medow on Twitter @ShawnMedow