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With Hebard questionable, Ducks press on

Eugene, Ore. -- When Oregon junior forward Ruthy Hebard hit the floor against Oregon State on Monday night, a collective gasp was nearly audible back in Eugene. The Ducks star post presence rose gingerly, was seen warming up before the start of the second half of that Civil War game, but was restricted to the bench. On Wednesday, the university released a statement that Hebard was questionable for the weekend series against UCLA and USC, and that the MRI revealed no structural damage to her knee. 

"It's a bone bruise and your guess is as good as mine on that stuff," says head coach Kelly Graves. "She's got some work ahead of her."

The way senior forward Oti Gildon said she and her team reacted in the moment was also indicative of just how important Hebard is to this team, not only now but come tournament time. 

"Oh snap, more like oh s**t," Gildon says of her reaction. "We thought it was her ankle. But she's alright. She'll be good, we were all a little scared but the MRI was clear, we're just ready for her to get back. We need her for March. Let her rest up now."

Having to adjust on the fly against the Beavers in a hostile environment, OSU's Gill Coliseum, head coach Kelly Graves went to a four guard lineup, while trying to find a way to combat Oregon State's big post presences. With some more time to prepare ahead of the last home stand of the Pac-12 regular season, Graves isn't too worried about how his team will respond. The Ducks have flirted with an outcome like this given the 10 woman roster and a bench that, while seasoned, isn't too deep. 

"We didn't practice it all," Graves responds. "The way the game went we just went with five-out and try to do the best we can. It was just one of the those nights that we didn't shoot right. We just could never get over that hump and give them the credit. They made plays down the stretch."

Despite the Civil War loss at Gill, Oregon is still firmly in control of their own Pac-12 title destiny, leading the standings by two full games with four left to play. The Ducks also beat the four teams left on their schedule by at least 6 points each. With Hebard potentially missing that home and road stand, it will come down to seniors like guard Maite Cazorla and forward Oti Gildon to fill the gaps and replace the production. 

"I don't really have a choice," says Gildon. "There's always big shoes to fill with Ruthy being out. But I've done it before and I'm ready to do it again. I'm ready to step up and help the team get a good win this weekend."

The Ducks take on UCLA at 8:00 pm on Friday, February 22nd before facing USC on Sunday. 

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