Preview: Red Devils Host Fontbonne in Regular-Season Finale

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

EUREKA, Ill. -- The 2017-18 regular season will come to a close Saturday when the Eureka College men's basketball team hosts Fontbonne in a 3 p.m. St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tip-off at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. Eureka's senior class will be recognized during a ceremony immediately prior to tip-off.

PDF Version of Eureka Men's Basketball Game Notes

ABOUT EUREKA
The Red Devils are 17-7 overall and 12-5 in the SLIAC. EC has won four games in a row since Feb. 3 and its 17 victories are its most prior to a postseason conference tournament since the 1993-94 season.
 
Junior guard Shea Feehan will take the floor Saturday with Eureka's single-season scoring record in sight. The Peoria Notre Dame product has 621 points this season, third-most on Eureka's single-season list and 32 points shy of tying Chris Peterson's 1993-94 record of 653.
 
Senior guard Ryan McElmurry logged four assists Wednesday at Iowa Wesleyan to increase his season total to 138 and enter the program's single-season top-10 list. McElmurry's 138 assists rank ninth in a season at EC and represent the program's highest total since Shawn McGuire distributed 162 assists in 2003-04.
 
Eureka's 93-point effort Wednesday at Iowa Wesleyan increased its season average to 90.4 points per game, just a tick below last season's single-season team record of 90.5. The Red Devils have never averaged more than 80 points per game in consecutive seasons.
 
The Red Devils are in their 40th season as a member of NCAA Division III and their 12th season as a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Eureka returns three starters, all juniors, from last season's 13-win team that broke the program's single-season record for team scoring with 90.5 points per game. In all, EC returns 18 letterwinners from last season.
 
SLIAC CHAMPIONSHIP, TOURNAMENT SCENARIOS
Eureka remains mathematically eligible to share its first regular-season SLIAC title and host the league's postseason tournament next Thursday and Saturday. 
 
If Eureka beats Fontbonne Saturday and league-leading Greenville stumbles versus Webster, the Red Devils and Panthers will share the regular-season championship and EC will host the league tournament by virtue of its season sweep of Westminster.
 
The Red Devils are guaranteed a top-two seed in next weekend's tournament -- their first-round opponent will be one of Westminster, Webster or Blackburn.
 
EUREKA GOES WIRE-TO-WIRE TO DROP IOWA WESLEYAN
Dakota Bennington put up his third collegiate double-double with game highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds and Hank Thomas tacked on 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting in the Red Devils' 93-77 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win at Iowa Wesleyan, Wednesday night in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. 
 
The Red Devils opened with eight consecutive points and led 48-36 at halftime. The Tigers kept their deficit at five as late as the 13:03 mark of second half, but the visitors' lead swelled back to 78-63 with 4:10 to play. IWU had one last surge to pull within seven, but Bennington answered with a 3-point play on the Red Devils' next trip to effectively put the game away. Eureka scored the final eight points of the game.
 
ABOUT FONTBONNE
Fontbonne will play its season finale Saturday, owning a 5-19 overall record and a 3-14 SLIAC mark for 10th place in the league standings. The Griffins have dropped three of their last four and nine of their last 11, including an 87-72 setback to Principia on Tuesday in St. Louis.
 
Three Griffins score at least 12.0 points per game, led by 16.8 from junior guard Kris McCann and 16.2 points from sophomore guard Luke DeLine. Fontbonne ranks 69th nationally as a team with 82.3 points per game, but allows 88.7 points per game to rank near the bottom of Division III.
 
One of only four active charter members of the SLIAC, Fontbonne has won three regular-season SLIAC championships and five SLIAC Tournament crowns, including three in a row from 2007 through 2009. The Griffins have qualified for the SLIAC Tournament only once since 2010, dropping the championship game to Spalding in 2015.
 
THE SERIES VERSUS FONTBONNE
Eureka has won four in a row over the Griffins to claim a 13-12 lead in the all-time series that dates back to December 2001. EC is 6-5 against Fontbonne inside the Reagan Athletic Complex.
 
LAST TIME VERSUS FONTBONNE
Shea Feehan erupted for 44 points, helping the Red Devils erase a 15-point first-half deficit and secure an 84-78 SLIAC victory at Fontbonne on Jan. 17 in St. Louis, Mo.
 
FBU led 38-23 in the first half, but a field goal from Feehan started a 20-7 EC blitz that allowed the Red Devils to trail by only two at the break, 45-43. FBU led as late as the 6:47 mark of the second half before EC recovered to lead 69-68. Fontbonne tied EC two more times before Feehan's layup triggered a run of six consecutive EC points and the Griffins wouldn't shoot with a chance to tie or take the lead again.
 
Jared Woodcock poured in 22 for FBU, followed by Kris McCann with 21 points.
 
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
The owner of more than two decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 11th season as head coach at Eureka. The current campaign marks Wilde's 20th season as a collegiate basketball head coach.
 
Wilde has proved to be one of the most successful head coaches in the storied history of Eureka men's basketball, establishing the Red Devils as a steady presence in the SLIAC both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde has 134 wins at EC, third-most in the 99-year history of the program.
 
Lance Thornhill, a longtime assistant coach to SLIAC legend Lee McKinney and the owner of two decades as an assistant on the FBU bench, is in his third season as the Griffins' head coach. The Missouri State graduate is 16-58 overall since taking the reins of the program in 2015.
 
In addition to his current men's basketball responsibilities, the St. Louis area native is a three-time SLIAC Coach of the Year as Fontbonne's men's golf head coach, directing the Griffins to league titles in 2002, 2004 and 2006.