Eureka Aims For Outright League Championship Saturday

Courtesy of Bob Hunt.
Courtesy of Bob Hunt.

PDF Version of Eureka Game Notes

EUREKA, Ill. -- Three days removed from clinching a share of the institution's first-ever St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference team championship, the Eureka College women's basketball team will try to win the regular-season title outright when the Red Devils welcome Greenville to Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena on Saturday at 1 p.m. EC needs one victory in its final three regular-season games to win the outright crown and host the SLIAC Tournament beginning Feb. 23.

A SHARE OF THE LEAGUE TITLE -- SO WHAT'S NEXT?

Eureka defeated MacMurray Wednesday night, 86-48, clinching a share of the institution's first-ever SLIAC team championship since joining the league prior to the 2006-07 season.

EC needs one victory in its final three regular-season games to win the outright crown and the right to host the SLIAC Tournament beginning Feb. 23.

Eureka previously won women's basketball conference championships as a member of the NAIA Prairie College Conference in 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1991. Eureka has also earned its first conference title in a female sport since winning the Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference volleyball crown in 1997.

ABOUT EUREKA

The first-place Red Devils are 16-6 overall and 12-1 in SLIAC competition. A win on Saturday would give EC at least 17 regular-season wins for the third time since the 2011-12 season and the 13th time in 42 seasons of EC women's basketball.

Eureka is led at both ends of the floor by junior guard Hayley Reneau. The 5-foot-6 guard scores a team-high 13.8 points per game and leads all EC players with 65 steals and 31 blocked shots.

Additionally, Reneau has made 50 3-pointers this season, ninth-most in single-season Eureka history. She needs six more triples to tie Mindy Whitehouse (1990-94) for 10th place on the program's all-time list for 3-pointers.

The Red Devils, who make 8.0 3-pointers per game to rank 18th nationally, also receive 11.5 points and 7.8 rebounds on average from senior forward Michaela Balducci. Junior guard Kerrigan Dura scores 9.5 points per game and has totaled a team-high 105 assists, needing only one more helper to crack Eureka's single-season top 10 list for assists.

Eureka was picked to finish sixth in the SLIAC, according to a coaches' poll released before the start of the season.

RED DEVILS CRUSH MacMURRAY WEDNESDAY

Hayley Reneau scored a career-high 28 points to lead the Red Devils to an 86-48 win over MacMurray on Wednesday at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.

The Red Devils took control of Wednesday's league contest early, doubling up the Highlanders 20-10 on a layup by Ashley Harfst in the final minute of the first period. The basket came as part of an 8-0 EC run to close the quarter. EC led by as many as 20 points in the second quarter, but the Highlanders closed the half on an 8-0 run to trail 36-24 at intermission.

The hosts put the game out of reach in the final four minutes of the third quarter. A 15-8 burst over the final 4:47 of the quarter allowed EC to control a 67-45 advantage. Eureka outscored MacMurray 19-3 in the final 10 minutes.

Reneau scored 28 points, the most by a Red Devil this season, thanks to a 12-for-17 effort from the field. Michaela Balducci tacked on 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Luci Weis and Kerrigan Dura each netted 10 points.  Lexi Dooley hauled down 10 rebounds.

All 11 Red Devils played at least six minutes, 10 of which scored. EC grabbed 54 rebounds and outscored the Highlanders in the paint, 38-10.

100 GAMES FOR LUCI

Senior guard Luci Weis played in her 100th career game Wednesday against MacMurray. She is the 15th player in Eureka women's basketball history to reach 100 games played.

Weis, who ranks 25th in program history with 796 career points and third in EC history with 140 career 3-pointers, can crack the program's all-time top-10 list for games played on Saturday. Jamie While (1990-94) holds the all-time EC record with 107 career appearances.

ALUMNI CELEBRATION SATURDAY

Eureka College will host a basketball alumni celebration as part of the Red Devils' doubleheader on Saturday. All former basketball players, coaches and managers that attend will be honored during a ceremony at halftime of the men's game.

A postgame reception is scheduled for women's and men's basketball alumni.

ABOUT GREENVILLE

Greenville owns a 15-8 overall record and a 10-4 SLIAC record. The Panthers, who have already clinched a SLIAC Tournament spot, are still eligible to share the regular-season conference title with the Red Devils, but must win their two remaining games and hope for EC to lose its final three regular-season contests.

Laura Goodnight, a junior forward, scores 12.5 points per game to lead the Greenville attack. She shoots 44 percent from the floor and 87 percent from the free throw line and also shares the team rebounding lead with junior Kelly Lenz at 5.3 boards per game.

Sophomore forward Wesley Woodard and senior guard Taylor Paulin join Goodnight in starting all 23 contest and scoring in double figures on average. Woodard pours in 10.9 on average, followed by Paulin at 10.7.

GC has won back-to-back games and six of its last eight since falling to Eureka in Greenville on Jan. 11.  The Panthers are the most accurate shooting team in the SLIAC, leading the nine-team league with a .447 field goal percentage and a .360 3-point field goal percentage. The Panthers also boast a league-best plus-6.6 rebounding margin.

SLIAC coaches picked the Panthers to finish second in the league this season, trailing only Spalding. Greenville received three of a possible nine first-place votes in the poll.

Last season's SLIAC Tournament crown was Greenville's first in seven trips to the event since 1998. The Panthers finished second in the final league standings a year ago and have won only one regular-season title (1997) since joining the league in 1995.

ABOUT THE HEAD COACHES

Steve Thompson is in his third season as head coach of the Red Devils.

Since taking the reins of the program in 2014, Thompson has built on the Red Devils' sustained success and guided EC to the SLIAC Tournament in each of his first two seasons, including a title game appearance in 2015.

In addition to his role with the Eureka women's basketball program, Thompson has served EC as Director of Athletics since Jan. 2, 2014. Thompson has more than a decade of administrative experience in collegiate athletics, including five years at NCAA Division III Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio and two years at NCAA Division I Kent State.

The 2016-17 season is Roy Mulholland's 18th as head coach at Greenville. The 1986 Greenville graduate is 239-228 overall.

Mulholland is the Greenville College physical education department chair. Prior to his arrival at GC, Mulholland coached girls basketball at Greenville High School for 13 years and own the GHS record for all-time coaching wins.

SERIES VERSUS GREENVILLE

The Red Devils own a 33-19 record in 52 previous meetings with the Panthers since 1983. Included in that stretch is an11-10 mark since becoming league rivals prior to the 2006-07 campaign.

Eureka is 19-7 at home in the last 26 meetings. including an active five-game home win streak against the Panthers.

Eureka has won nine of the last 11 over GC since Nov. 30, 2011, but split the home-and-home season series a year ago.

LAST TIME VERSUS GREENVILLE

Kennedy Dura erupted for 16 points and the Red Devils used a run of 20 unanswered points in the second half to turn a tied halftime score into a 66-49 SLIAC romp at Greenville on Jan. 11.

Eureka opened the contest with five straight points and never trailed through game's first 10 minutes, holding a 16-14 advantage at the end of the first period. Greenville answered and took its first lead (20-19) at the 8:33 mark of the second period on Wesley Woodard's bucket, part of a brief 6-0 GC run. Three more lead changes followed over the next 73 seconds and GC scored twice in the final 1:26 of the half to force a 30-30 tie at intermission.

Greenville edged in front, 36-35, when Morgan St. James scored with 5:58 left in the third quarter. Eureka answered moments later with a basket from Lexi Dooley, triggering a 20-0 blitz from the visitors over the next 7-minutes, 28-seconds.

Five different Red Devils scored during the outburst, effectively putting the game away early in the final period. The EC lead was 48-36 after three quarters and swelled to as many as 25 points in the final frame on a basket from Kerrigan Dura for a 64-39 advantage with 2:51 to go.

Dooley and Hayley Reneau scored 14 points apiece to join Kennedy Dura in double figures. Michaela Balducci hauled down a game-high nine rebounds and Luci Weis logged five steals.

Morgan St. James paced the Panthers with 10 points. Laura Goodnight recorded seven rebounds.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Links to a live video stream and live statistics be available at EurekaRedDevils.com and sliac.org.

The Eureka College media relations staff will provide updates throughout the game via Twitter at @EurekaGameDay.