Preview: Eureka Gets Another Shot at Fontbonne

Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.

EUREKA — After experiencing their fourth weather-related postponement of the year on Thursday, the Eureka men are more than ready to return to their state-of-the-art court.

Their season resumes on Saturday with a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference battle against Fontbonne inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center at 3 p.m.

ABOUT EUREKA

Eureka returns to its home floor looking to rebound from an 89-78 setback at Principia on Tuesday, and avenge a 105-96 loss to the Griffins last month.

The Red Devils are currently seventh in the conference, posting a 7-13 record on the season and a 6-8 mark in the SLIAC.

After collecting SLIAC Player of the Week honors on Monday, Dakota Bennington provided a 22-point, 11-rebound effort at Principia on Tuesday. The junior is the SLIAC's third-leading scorer with 21.6 points per game and 411 total points on the season.

Hank Thomas, who averages 19.1 points per game, is third in the conference in assists (101).  Already fifth in program history in 3-pointers made (196) and eighth in total points (1,388), Thomas is two assists away from joining the top 10 in assists as well with 264 on his career.

Juniors Jordan Dehm and Austin Juergens contribute 12.7 and 12.3 points per game, respectively.

Senior Alex Wiegand remains the SLIAC's leader in field goal percentage (69.7), while Dehm is fifth in the league in rebounds per game (8.1).

Eureka is currently second in the SLIAC and 27th in Division III in points per game (86.8) while shooting 44.6 percent from the floor. The Red Devils lead the SLIAC in free-throw percentage (77.4), and are third in rebounds (40.1) and assists (17.6).

Eureka returns 10 letterwinners and four players that started at least five games from last season's team that went 18-8 overall and finished as the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference runner-up with a 13-5 league record. The Red Devils welcomed nearly a dozen newcomers to the 2018-19 roster, seven of which will have freshman eligibility.

ABOUT FONTBONNE

Fontbonne sits one spot ahead of Eureka in the SLIAC standings with a 7-8 conference record and a 9-13 mark overall.

The Griffins are coming off an 80-77 win over Blackburn on Wednesday after falling to Greenville in a record-breaking 200-146 shootout last Saturday. The win avenged a one-point loss to the Beavers before the last time the Griffins took on the Red Devils.

They've now won four of their last six games, also picking up wins over Iowa Wesleyan, MacMurray and Principia during the stretch.

Junior Luke DeLine averages a team-high 19.9 points per game and is fifth in the SLIAC in scoring. He shoots 52.3 percent from the floor — nearly a team best — and is the team's top 3-point threat, shooting 41.6 percent from deep.

Sophomore Jared Woodcock, who dropped 20 points and knocked down 4 of 7 3s against Blackburn, follows at 13.9 points per game on 42.9 percent shooting.

Freshman Gus Kleekamp, meanwhile, contributes 9.3 points per game while tallying the fifth-most assists in the conference (78).

As a team, the Griffins lead the SLIAC in field-goal percentage (48), are third in steals per game (8.6), and fourth in points per game (80.8), rebounds per game (39.7) and assists per game (17.5).

RECENT HISTORY

The Red Devils are 14-13 in 27 meetings with the Griffins. The last time these teams met, Fontbonne snapped a five-game losing streak to EC in a nine-point win in St. Louis.

Eureka had to scrap its way back into contention late in the second half after falling into an 18-point hole. The Red Devils came within four points with two minutes to go, but the Griffins scored five straight to preserve the win.

Bennington and Thomas were the Red Devils' leading scorers, posting 29 and 26 points, respectively, while Dehm added 18.

Kleekamp threw up a career-high 29 points on 11-of-16 shooting for Fontbonne. Jalen Wadlington and Woodcock followed with 20 and 19, respectively. Six Fontbonne players reached double figures, including two of whom came off the bench.

MEET THE HEAD COACHES

The owner of nearly three decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 12th season as head coach of the Eureka College men's basketball team in 2018-19. The current campaign marks Wilde's 21st season as a collegiate basketball head coach.

Wilde has proven 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 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2018-19 campaign with 135 wins, fourth-most in the century-long history of the program.

Lance Thornhill is in his fourth season as Fontbonne's head coach and 23rd with the program overall. As an assistant, he contributed to four conference tournament championships and four national tournament appearances.

A Missouri State graduate, Thornhill was a three-year letterwinner in golf and received Mid-Continent All-Conference honors in 1989.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Eureka will provide a live online video broadcast of Wednesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com. Amos Arbogast is in his second season directing the Red Devils.