DURHAM, N.C. – Ruthy Hebard did it all during the dying seconds of first-round play in the 2017 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament to give the Oregon Ducks a 71-70 win over the Temple Owls at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday.
Hebard led the Ducks with 23 points that included dropping the game-winning jumper with 5.5 seconds to play.
With barely enough time to get back as Temple’s Feyonda Fitzgerald ran the floor looking to go for the win, Hebard blocked the final-seconds layup attempt.
“This group just shows a lot of toughness and grit and fight,” Oregon head coach Kelly Brooks said.
“They never give up. I was kidding Ruthy that the end might be the best five seconds of her life to get that game-winning basket and to make the block at the other end. I love this basketball team. I love the fight that they continue to show. We executed down the stretch and that was the difference.”
Fitzgerald led the charge in the second half, playing a supporting role with 16 points while the Owls were led by Alliya Butts’ 28-point output.
Supporting Hebard’s efforts was ESPNW and Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Sabrina Ionescu who posted 16 points, seven rebounds, and seven points to go along with a double-double (13 points, 10 rebounds) from Mallory McGwire.
“We knew we had to get a stop in and we had a hard time stopping them throughout the game,” Temple head coach Tonya Cardoza said.
“Down the stretch, they were exploiting mismatches. We just needed to come up with that one stop and when we did, we had five seconds and knew we had to get from end to end. I thought it was going in. It was the perfect scenario, open court where we’re really good with Feyonda with the basketball in her hands. I saw her paying attention to the clock, so I knew that she was alert and that she knew she had more time to get to the other basket. Like I said, she (Hebard) just came over and made a great play on it.”
With the win, Oregon advanced to second-round play against the winner of No. 2 Duke-No. 15 Hampton on Monday.
Oregon: Ruthy Hebard – 23 points, 7 rebounds; Sabrina Ionescu – 16 points, 7 rebounds, 7 assists; Mallory McGwire – 13 points, 10 rebounds
Temple: Alliya Butts – 28 points, 2 rebounds; Feyonda FitzGerald – 16 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists; Ruth Sherrill – 10 points, 5 rebounds
Oregon 35, Ttemple 34
Hebard led the Ducks with 12 points and McGwire following with 10 as Oregon dropped shots at a 41-percent success rate.
Butts’ 13 points and 10 from Sherrill kept the Owls close, converting at a 43-percent clip.
It didn’t happen until the final minute of play as Ionescu matched jumpers with Fitzgerald and helped set the stage for Hebard’s winning jumper, and subsequent game-saving block.
It was tight early on as both starting lineups traded baskets during the first five minutes of play.
Score was tied 8-8 with 4:48 to play.
Two players from each squad put up points – Hebard and McGwire with four each for the Ducks while Butts and Atkinson tallied five and three for the Owls.
The lead changed hands twice while being tied five times during the opening period.
Temple led 20-18 heading into the next period.
While Oregon took a 26-22 lead during first four minutes, Butts worked the Temple backcourt to try to pull even.
A few more missed shots from the Owls allowed the Ducks to extend the lead to six – leading 32-26 with 3:58 to play in the half.
Oregon hit its own rut and Temple worked to cut its deficit down to three as the period drew to a close.
With three seconds on the clock, Butts dropped a high-arching two as the Ducks carried a 35-34 lead into the halftime break.
Differences in scoring were minimal, but Temple eventually took the lead, a big three from Butts helped establish a 46-42 advantage with 4:46 to go.
Hebard fueled the Oregon offense in staying close.
However, Butts continued to make the difference as back-to-back 3s sandwiched a few Temple misses and turnover.
Temple led 58-52 as play headed into the final period.
Hebard, Ionescu, and Bando helped Oregon rally from its deficit heading into the final five minutes of regulation.
A short jumper from Ionescu cut the Temple lead to three before Bando’s first 3-pointer of the game tied the score at 62-62 with 4:56 to play.
Butts countered with a jumper to quickly give the Owls the lead back.
A jumper from Ionescu put the Ducks ahead by one with 3:08 to go.
Fitzgerald’s jumper from the top pulled Temple ahead a minute later.
Additional work at the free throw line pushed the Owls ahead 68-65.
Once again, Ionescu’s jumper hit and cut the difference to one with less than a minute to play.
Butts put up a 3 attempt, but it dropped short, as did the rebound putback.
With 34.3 on the clock, Ionescu put up the go-ahead jumper.
Temple trailed 69-68 and had 20.5 seconds to work with.
Butts inbounded to Fitzgerald who then dribbled and dropped a two from the right elbow.
Oregon was next up with 14.3 to play.
This time it was Hebard who got the feed from McGwire and dropped her jumper to give the Ducks a 71-70 lead with 5.5 seconds remaining.
Fitzgerald got the inbounds pass and ran the length of the court and went to lay the ball in, but Hebard blocked the drive.
There was no time remaining for a putback attempt and while the Owls dropped in frustration, the Ducks flew into one anothers’ arms in celebration.