An MRI revealed no structural damage to the star forward's right knee
For the most part, the Ducks played with poise after Ruthy Hebard limped to the bench Monday night in Corvallis.
But in the visiting locker room at Gill Coliseum, there was some panic about the star forward suffering a right knee injury in the second quarter of No. 2 Oregon’s 67-62 loss at No. 12 Oregon State.
“Oh, snap,” Oti Gildon said of her reaction. “More like, ‘Oh, (expletive).’”
On Wednesday, the Ducks received the calming three-word answer coach Kelly Graves was praying for:
No structural damage.
An MRI on Hebard’s knee did not reveal a season-ending MCL or ACL tear. The 6-foot-4 junior is being held out of practice indefinitely with what Graves described as a bone bruise.
Officially, Hebard is listed as questionable for Oregon’s final regular-season homestand against UCLA and USC at Matthew Knight Arena.
“It was good news, relatively speaking,” Graves said. “She’s not going to practice this week, and it could run into some time. We’re not completely out of the woods yet.
“But I’m just happy for her there’s no structural damage because then you’re talking months, and that’s not good for anybody.”
Hebard, the reigning national power forward of the year, is averaging 16.4 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds this season.
Oregon used a four-guard lineup in the second half against the Beavers to rally from an 11-point deficit before having its 17-game winning streak snapped.
Gildon, a senior forward averaging 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds, will likely start her final two regular-season home games in Hebard’s place.
“There’s always big shoes to fill with Ruthy being out, but I’ve done it before in the past and I’m ready to do it again,” Gildon said. “I’m ready to step up and help out the team and get a good win this weekend.”
Graves expressed confidence in 6-6 sophomore forward Lydia Giomi playing more minutes or having Erin Boley playing more in the paint than outside the 3-point arc.
“We’re not going to abandon what we do,” Graves said. “Oti is an able backup, fill-in teammate. She is very good. If you look at her numbers per minute, if she played Ruthy minutes, the numbers would be somewhat comparable.”
Oregon was outrebounded 39-30 and shot a season-low 35.8 percent from the field against Oregon State.
Hebard had eight points and four rebounds in 13 minutes before going down. The four bench players combined for four points and two rebounds in 35 combined minutes.
“Obviously we know it’s a possibility at any point that someone can get injured or not be able to play or whatever,” Boley said. “At any given point, any of us are versatile enough to be able to step up and help us in any way that we need to.”
The Ducks (24-2, 13-1) have a two-game lead over Stanford (21-4, 11-3) and Oregon State (21-5, 11-3) with four games remaining in the regular season.
Hebard might have to celebrate a Pac-12 title repeat by waving a towel on the bench, but Oregon is built for another long postseason run as soon as she’s cleared to play.
“We were all a little scared, but the MRI was clear. We’re just ready for her to get back,” Gildon said. “We need her for March, so let her rest up now.”