Two of Alaska’s greatest basketball players battle in Pac-12 game, and share a hug afterward

Two of Alaska’s greatest women’s basketball players battled Sunday at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, where senior Ruthy Hebard of Fairbanks led the second-ranked Oregon Ducks past USC 93-67 despite a big effort from freshman Alissa Pili of Anchorage.

Hebard, a 6-foot-4 forward, and Pili, a 6-foot forward, battled head-to-head on several possessions during the Pac-12 game. When it was all over, they shared a hug.

Hebard, a West Valley graduate, finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and one block in 36 minutes.

Pili, a Dimond High graduate, had 14 points, four rebounds, four assists, three steals and two blocks in nearly 37 minutes.

The lopsided win was not a surprise. Oregon is 24-2, spent part of the season as the nation’s No. 1 team and is loaded with talented seniors, including Hebard. USC is 13-12 and reliant on young players, none more so than Pili.

Pili has twice been named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Week and on Friday racked up 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Trojans to a 72-66 upset of 11th-ranked Oregon State.

Sunday marked Pili’s 10th straight game with double-figure points and her 19th of the season.


For Hebard, it was the 52nd double-double of her career. She will leave Oregon as one of the school’s most prolific scorers and rebounders, having reached the 2,000-point and 1,000-rebound milestones earlier this season.

Hebard is a nominee for both the Naismith Award and Wooden Award, both of which honor the nation’s top players. She is projected to be a top draft pick in next spring’s WNBA draft.

Hebard and Pili are arguably among the top 10 women’s players from Alaska, part of an elite group topped by Jessica Moore of Palmer, a three-time NCAA champ at UConn who went on to play in 223 WNBA games.

Alaska’s top college scorers

2,224 -- Ruthy Hebard, West Valley (Oregon)

2,033 -- Kelsey Griffin, Chugiak (Nebraska)

1,766 -- Jeannie Hebert, Monroe (Miami)

1,664 -- Talisa Rhea, Juneau (Oregon State/Seattle U)

1,519 -- Brit Jacobson, Chugiak (Kansas State)

1,374 -- Molly Tuter, Soldotna (Arizona State)

1,346 -- Chandice Cronk, Wasilla (Santa Clara)

1,233 -- Jessica Moore, Colony (UConn)

1,149 -- Natalie Jones, East (Arizona)

(Source: Van Williams, Alaska Sports Hall of Fame)

Beth Bragg

Beth Bragg wrote about sports and other topics for the ADN for more than 35 years, much of it as sports editor. She retired in October 2021. She's contributing coverage of Alaskans involved in the 2022 Winter Olympics.