MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa – The Eureka men had to claw their way back in the first half and stay steady in the second, but the Red Devils grinded out an 82-73 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Iowa Wesleyan Wednesday night.
Junior Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) led the way with a 32-point performance – 18 of which came in the second half. The junior guard was 9-for-20 from the field, putting away 13 of 17 free-throw attempts and pulling down 11 rebounds.
Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) added 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting, pulled down a team-high 14 rebounds and had four blocks, while Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) contributed 17 points on 6-of-15 shooting. Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) chipped in nine points.
As a team, the Red Devils shot 41.5 percent from the field – 39.4 percent in the first half and 43.8 percent in the second.
They fell behind early, though. Iowa Wesleyan jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first two minutes, 19 seconds, forcing Eureka to play catch up for most of the half.
The Red Devils gradually chipped away, and a Bennington 3-pointer with 11:03 left in the half tied the game at 21-21. A layup by Donald Hardaway, Jr. (Lansing, Ill./Cimarron Memorial) seven minutes before the break gave the visitors their first lead at 28-27.
They led by as many as five in the first half but went into halftime down a point, trailing 42-41 after Albert Torrres canned a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining.
Torres scored a team-high 23 points for Iowa Wesleyan, and four other Tigers reached double figures as well: Jake Neubauer (13), Jarryd Fernandes (10), Austin Banks (10) and Cameron Mack (10).
Although the Red Devils outscored the Tigers by 10 points and led by as many as 12 in the second half, the Tigers never let them break the game open.
By the end of the game, there had been five ties and seven lead changes.