CARLINVILLE, Ill. – Senior guard Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill/Pekin H.S) paced the Red Devils with a game-high 25 points as Eureka opened St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play with a 91-81 win over Blackburn on Wednesday.
The Red Devils led for all but three minutes and roared out of the gate with a 20-7 run that was capped by a layup by Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) with 13:45 left in the first half.
The Beavers ended the half with a 6-0 run after a buzzer-beating jumper by Karson Hayes made it 44-32 at the break.
Blackburn quickly closed the gap after halftime, trimming EC's lead to just five.
A pair of free throws by Kyle Henderson (Henry, Ill./Henry-Senachwine) and a jumper beyond the arc from Chris Daniels (Peoria, Ill/Peoria) with 8:37 remaining in the game pushed the lead back up to 14 points, but EC struggled to put the Beavers away.
The home team briefly came within single digits with less than a minute to play, but Eureka made enough free throws down the stretch to earn their fourth double-digit win of the season and improve to 5-1 overall.
Juergens notched a game-high 25 points on 8-of-22 shooting from the field, 3-of-8 shooting from 3-point range and a 6-for-6 showing at the free throw line while also contributing six rebounds and an assist.
Bennington finished right behind him with 23 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) chipped in with a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards off the bench, along with six assists. Another reserve, Chris Daniels (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) finished with his season-high 15 points while going 5-for-6 from 3.
Eight different Beavers scored Wednesday, led by Nigel Ferrell with 17 points, three rebounds and a couple of steals.
Eureka (5-1, 1-0 SLIAC) will have a couple days off before they travel to Principia (1-5, 0-1 SLIAC) Saturday afternoon for another SLIAC challenge at 3 p.m.