EUREKA — The Eureka men's basketball team spread the ball around and grinded out a 70-64 victory over Iowa Wesleyan on Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
The Red Devils turned a six-point halftime deficit into a six-point victory that clinched a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season sweep over the Tigers.
It was the team's lowest scoring win since last year's 70-69 SLIAC Tournament Championship triumph over Webster, and the fewest points the team has conceded since holding Knox to 56 on Nov. 16.
It was the kind of game where no scored a lot, but everyone chipped in at least a little on the offensive end. And, with the help of 2-3 zone defense that held the Tigers to 20.6 percent shooting in the second half, it was enough to get it done.
Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) notched a team-high 13 points, Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) followed with 12 and Austyn Ellison (Hudson, Ill./Bloomington Central Catholic) scored a career-high 11 while distributing a career-high six assists off the bench.
Kyler Stork (Normal, Ill./Normal West) and Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) contributed nine and seven points, respectively. Bennington gathered a team-high seven boards, while Dehm and Jaedon Banks (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Heights) each had six.
With Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) and Ellison running point, the Red Devils turned the ball over 10 times – their third-lowest total of the season.
J'Len Crawford (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) recorded 15 energetic minutes off the bench, providing a pair of 3s, grabbing four boards and making a steal without committing a turnover.
Iowa Wesleyan led by as many as eight points in a first half in which they shot 50 percent from the floor and knocked down five triples. Eureka shot 35.1 percent in the first half, and although the Red Devils never caught fire in the second half, they tightened the defense to work their way back in the game.
A fastbreak drive to the rim by Chris Daniels (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) with 8:08 remaining tied it for the Red Devils for the first time of the half. Daniels fouled out after only 13 minutes, but he provided strong defense — along with that key bucket — during his time on the floor.
EC took the lead on a free throw by Bennington with 7:41 left, and back-to-back 3s by Bennington and Crawford extended it to seven with 5:17 remaining. The Red Devils held the Tigers at bay from there.
Eureka outrebounded IWU 52-45, beat the visitors 32-22 in the paint and racked up 30 points from the bench to their counterparts' 13.
Austin Banks recorded a game-high 20 points for the Tigers, while Alex Dentlinger and Jacob Neubeauer followed with 11 apiece.
The win moved the Red Devils to 8-6 in the SLIAC, and kept them a game out of the coveted top four in the league.
On Wednesday, EC (13-8, 8-6 SLIAC) will take on one of the teams standing in its when way, when the maroon and gold hosts Fontbonne (11-10, 9-5 SLIAC) at 7:30 p.m inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.