ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Eureka men scrapped their way back into contention after falling into a deep hole against Fontbonne Wednesday night.
But it wasn't enough. The Griffins held on for a 105-96 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory at the Dunham Student Activity Center.
Junior Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) and senior Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) were the Red Devils' leading scorers, posting 29 and 26 points, respectively. Bennington had 18 at the half and shot 12-for-17 from the field. Thomas, who has yet to miss a free throw in SLIAC play this season, went 8-for-16, dished a team-high nine assists and was 7-for-7 from the charity stripe.
Junior Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) ace with the Griffins (5-9, 3-4 in SLIAC) until slightly after the midway mark, when a go-ahead layup by Ian Cochran gave Fontbonne a 22-21 advantage.
The lead stretched to as many as 10 in the first half, but the Red Devils (3-10, 2-5) closed it to three with a Bennington layup with less than two minutes before halftime.
After the break, Fontbonne put together a couple of runs to take control. After falling behind by 18 points midway through the second half, though, the Red Devils turned it around and made things interesting down the stretch.
A 7-0 run that featured a pair of free throws and a triple by Thomas and a layup by Bennington trimmed the lead to 11 with 9:33 left.
Six and a half minutes later, back-to-back EC steals and transition layups made it a four-point game for the first time since midway through the first half. Donald Hardaway Jr.'s (Lansing, Ill./Cimarron Memorial) finish after a swipe by Thomas came first; Bennington's finish after a Bennington forced turnover followed.
Fontbonne provided answers, but a pair of jumpers by Hardaway Jr. brought the Red Devils within four again before the two-minute mark.
However, the Griffins scored five straight to regain some breathing room for the final minute of play.