Eureka Keeps it Competitive in 84-67 Loss to Utica

File photo.
File photo.

NEWWARK, N.J. – The Eureka men's basketball team hung around and kept it competitive, but Utica earned an 84-67 win over the Red Devils in the first game of the John K. Adams Tip-Off Classic at Rutgers-Newark on Friday.

Three Red Devils reached double figures in the loss, with J'Len Crawford (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) coming off the bench and notching a team-high 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Ian Milsteadt (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) and Logan Dorethy (Hamilton, Ill./West Hancock) each added 11 points. The former was 5-for-12 from field with five rebounds, two steals and a block, while the latter shot 5-for-9 from the field and pulled down four rebounds.

The Pioneers shot 62 percent from the field and saw star forward Thomas Morreale tie a career high with 31 points on 11-of-14 shooting from the field. He was 8-for-10 from the free-throw line, gathered a team-high seven rebounds and had three blocks and two steals. Guards Kobe Lufkin and Chris Green added 16 and 13 points, respectively.

Utica twice built big leads and threatened to bury the Red Devils, but on both occasions, they managed to work its way back in the game.

In the first half, the Pioneers went on an 18-2 run to take an 16-point lead at 22-6 with 10:42 until halftime. Eureka came back out of a timeout and scored 11 of the next 13 points, with back-to-back 3-pointers by Peyton McCubbin bringing the Red Devils within seven points with less than eight minutes to play in the half.

McCubbin finished with a season-high nine points. Two minutes later, a 3-pointer by Blake Castonguay (Watseka, Ill./Watseka) on an assist by David Hill (Elgin, Ill./St. Edwards Catholic) made it a five-point game at 29-24 with 5:46 left.

Utica stretched it back out to 13 by halftime, then came out of the gate red-hot in the first three minutes. A Lufkin triple gave the Pioneers a 28-point advantage.

Once again, though, the Red Devils didn't go away. Eureka went on a 14-0 run and made it 64-46.

Morreale ended the Utica drought with a layup, but the Red Devils continued to chip away until a Crawford trey off an assist by Castongauy made it a 10-point game with 7:25 remaining. Utica held off Eureka from there, outscoring the Red Devils 17-10 to seal the win.

Eureka played 13 people on Friday and 12 of them got on the board. The team recorded 35 points off the bench.

In addition to Crawford and McCubbin's contributions, Castonguay recorded five points and five assists in 19 minutes in his Red Devil debut, while Hill, Austyn Ellison (Hudson, Ill./Bloomington Central Catholic), Zach Briggs (Decatur, Ill./Decatur MacArthur) and Carlos Hernandez (Minooka, Ill./ Minooka) each contributed two points.

After starting off the season with a 29-point outburst against Cornell, Charlie McKinty (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood) struggled with foul trouble and finished with five points in 15 minutes. Jordan Brooks (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph-Ogden) and Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) had three and two points, respectively.

Eureka (0-2) will take on the losing team of Friday night's matchup between York College (N.Y.) and Rutgers-Newark on Saturday at 12 p.m.