CARLINVILLE, Ill. – Eureka College junior guard Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) paced the Red Devils with a game-high 18 points, but Blackburn rallied from a slow start to overcome the visitors in a 78-61 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory in Carlinville, Ill. The defeat, Eureka's first in league action, ends the Red Devils' five-game win streak.
The Red Devils roared out of the gate, scoring on five of their first seven possessions to build a 12-0 lead. Four different players made field goals during the early blitz and Blackburn didn't score until Jake Lockhead's 3-pointer with 14:57 remaining in the half.
Eureka led by double digits as late as the 13:02 mark of the first period before the Beavers quickly erased their deficit. Nigel Ferrell's dunk with 8:59 to play before halftime gave BC its first lead, 20-19. The Red Devils moved in front for the final time of the afternoon when Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin H.S.) hit a 3 for a 27-25 cushion. Blackburn regained the lead, 28-27, on a free throw from Jordan Clay with just 3:46 to go before intermission. BC's 38-32 halftime cushion was its biggest advantage of the half.
Blackburn began to create separation shortly after halftime, scoring 16 of the first 22 points after the break. A Koby White (Brimfield, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) 3-pointer and two Thomas free throws pulled Eureka back within 56-43, but Duncan King answered with a jumper less than a minute later and the Beavers would lead by at least 15 points for the remainder of the afternoon.
Thomas tallied 18 points in 28 minutes. Donald Hardaway, Jr. (Lansing, Ill./Cimarron Memorial H.S./Daley) came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers en route to nine points while Juergens, White and Austin Zielsdorf (Colfax, Ill./Ridgeview H.S.) pitched in six points apiece. Alex Wiegand (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) collected six rebounds.
Eleven different Beavers scored Saturday, led by 13 points off the bench from Smith. He added 10 rebounds for the game's only double-double.
Eureka will break for semester finals before returning to the court next Saturday, Dec. 16 at 3 p.m. against longtime SLIAC nemesis Webster at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.