GREENVILLE, Ill. – Playing at Greenville for the fourth time since the Panthers introduced their frantic, up-tempo style, Eureka dropped a 139-126 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest Wednesday night at H.J. Long Gymnasium. The game was the first league competition of the season for both teams.
Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) stuffed the stat sheet with 34 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian H.S./Olivet Nazarene) fell one board shy of a double-double with 32 points and nine rebounds and Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S.) set a new career high with 13 rebounds. The Red Devils shot 61 percent from the floor and scored 82 points in the paint.
Wednesday's game featured five ties and four lead changes. The Red Devils took their largest lead, 30-25, on Bennington's free throw at the 11:50 mark of the first half. EC matched the margin 64 seconds later on Bennington's transition dunk. GU surged in front 39-37 on an Eric Williams layup with 9:26 to play before halftime and wouldn't trail again. Greenville led by as many as 12 in the first 20 minutes and led 74-66 at the break.
The Red Devils and Panthers maintained the hectic pace throughout the second half. EC trailed by 10 when a Thomas layup ignited an 8-0 run that ended with the visitors within two, 122-120, after two Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) with 3:50 left. GU responded with a layup, a steal and a 3-pointer on its next possession and Eureka wouldn't slice the margin below five for the rest of the night.
Eureka will remain on the road Saturday for a 2 p.m. CT SLIAC tip-off at Spalding in Louisville, Ky.