Preview: After Greenville Triumph, MacMurray Awaits EC

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

JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — The Eureka men grinded out their most cathartic win of the year on Monday night.

But as the season winds down, there's still plenty of work to be done. On Wednesday, the Red Devils will take on St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foe MacMurray on the road at 7:30 p.m.

ABOUT EUREKA      

Monday's 161-153 victory over Greenville Monday was indeed a record-breaking night for Red Devil nation but, more importantly, it kept the team in the hunt for a SLIAC tournament spot.

The Red Devils, who are 9-13 on the season, are currently tied for fifth with Blackburn with an 8-8 record in the conference with two league games remaining. By Saturday's conference season finale against Iowa Wesleyan, there could be some interesting standings scenarios in the air, but EC needs to take down MacMurray first, just to be a part of the equation. Only the top four get in.

The maroon and gold is coming off its highest scoring performance in school history, which also included a new EC single-game scoring record by Dakota Bennington.

The junior guard from Peoria, Illinois, racked up 51 points on 20-of-29 shooting, recorded eight boards and registered seven assists. The SLIAC's back-to-back player of the week honoree, Bennington is the league's second-leading scorer at 23.9 points per game, and he's averaged 32.8 points per night over the past five games.

Alex Wiegand delivered a career-high 36 points without missing a shot. The senior, who leads the SLIAC in field-goal percentage (73.9), was a perfect 16-for-16 from the field, falling just two makes short of an NCAA Division III record.

Another decorated senior, Hank Thomas, contributed 28 points and 14 assists, the latter of which is tied for third-most in in a SLIAC game and is an EC single-game league record. He also came within an assist of Greenville's Johari Dix (124) for most assists in the conference. Junior Jordan Dehm, meanwhile, put together a workmanlike 18-point, 12-rebound effort while absorbing a lot of the pressure in the backcourt and on the baseline.

Bennington, Thomas (19.9), junior Austin Juergens (12.5) and Dehm (12.4) all average double figures for the Red Devils. Dehm is fifth in the SLIAC in rebounds per game (8.2).

EC averages 91.5 points, 41.1 rebounds and 19.4 assists per game —all second in the conference only to Greenville.

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 have freshman eligibility.

ABOUT MACMURRAY

MacMurray enters this one with a 3-13 mark in the conference and a 6-17 record on the season. The Highlanders, who have previously knocked off Blackburn, Principia and Iowa Wesleyan, are looking to play spoiler.

They're coming off an 82-64 loss to Spalding on Saturday, but a week earlier, they edged Iowa Wesleyan, 78-77.

Freshman center Logan Dorethy leads the team with 15.2 points per game on 60.2 percent shooting. He's currently fourth in the league in made field goals (157 out of 261 attempted), and is second behind Wiegand in field-goal percentage (60.2).

Derek Bourke and Wade Fox posted double-doubles in the loss. The former tallied 16 points and 10 boards, while the latter had 10 and 12. Trevor Voss added 15 points off the bench and Connor Vincent chipped in with 11.

Connor Vincent (13), Derek Bourke (11) and Wade Fox (10.5) all average double figures for the Highlanders as well.

RECENT HISTORY

MacMurray has taken three of the last five meetings with Eureka, sweeping the Red Devils in 2016-2017, splitting with them last season and falling 102-80 last month.

On Jan. 13, Eureka amassed a 48-point lead in the first half, setting a new highest halftime advantage in coach Chip Wilde's 12-year tenure at Eureka, en route to a 102-80 victory.

Dehm racked up 21 points and 14 rebounds, while Thomas tallied a team-high 23 points, along with five rebounds and three assists. Bennington added 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting.

Last season, Eureka pulled away late for an 82-66 victory in the first go-around. Thomas tacked on 25 points and Dehm racked up a team-high nine rebounds. Later in the season, though, MacMurray nipped EC in an 88-87 conference battle that came down to the last play of the game. Bennington contributed 15 points in the loss.

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 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 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.

Todd Creal is in his 12th season at the helm for MacMurray. He was the SLIAC Coach of the Year in 2019-10 and 2014-15, and in 2015-2016, he led the Highlanders to the program's first regular-season conference title in 10 years.

Prior to his time in Jacksonville, Creal was an assistant coach at Millikin University and Illinois College. He played for Lewis and Clark Community College and graduated from Illinois College.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

MacMurray will provide a live online video broadcast of Wednesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.