EUREKA, Ill. – The Eureka College men's basketball team won at home for the sixth consecutive outing, kept hold of its first-place share of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings and earned its largest margin of victory in 18 all-time meetings with Spalding in Wednesday's 77-58 league win over the Golden Eagles at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
Shea Feehan (Peoria, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) registered a game-high 31 points for the hosts, increasing his career scoring total to 1,272 to move into sole possesion of 10th place on the Red Devils' all-time scoring list. He made four 3-pointers Wednesday and his 158 career 3-pointers are seventh-most in program history.
The Red Devils (9-3, 4-1 SLIAC) came from behind Wednesday after failing to score through the first five minutes and falling into a 7-0 hole. Feehan got the hosts on the board at the 14:36 mark and EC ultimately moved in front 15-12 on a triple from Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian H.S./Olivet Nazarene) with 10:31 left in the half. Bennington later dunked a lob from Brady Sanders (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S./Illinois Wesleyan) to cap a 19-5 EC burst that left the Red Devils in front 19-12 and forced an SU timeout.
Spalding (4-7, 2-3 SLIAC) managed to reclaim a 23-22 lead, but Eureka answered with a Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) trey with 5:08 to go in the period and Eureka seized control. Alex Wiegand (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) scored inside for EC's largest cushion of the half, 35-25, and the Red Devils led 35-28 at the break.
The visitors failed to challenge Eureka's lead in the second half. The Red Devils effectively put the game on ice with a 14-0 run late in the half, turning a 10-point lead into a 77-53 margin when Austin Ahnafield (Rochester, Ind./El Paso-Gridley H.S.) scored in the paint in the final two minutes. SU didn't score for more than four minutes during the Red Devils' late surge.
Thomas finished with 16 points and logged his first collegiate blocked shot in the second half. Ryan McElmurry (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg H.S./Black Hawk) dished seven assists and Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S.) collected a team-best six rebounds. The Red Devils shot 44 percent from the floor, connected on 10 3-pointers and committed only six turnovers as a team.
Wednesday's win was Eureka's seventh in 18 all-time matchups with Spalding. The 19-point win bested its 72-58 triumph over SU on Jan. 9, 2010 as the largest margin of victory against the Golden Eagles.
Robert Bendingfield tallied 13 points for the visitors. Spalding shot only four free throws for the game and allowed Eureka to turn SU's 16 turnovers into 19 points.
Eureka will return to the road Saturday at Principia for a 3 p.m. SLIAC start in Elsah, Ill.