Red Devils Can’t Close Out Greenville, 66-64

Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.
Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.

EUREKA, Ill. -- In front of a near-capacity crowd for Alumni Day at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena on Saturday, Greenville kept its hopes alive to earn a share of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season title with a 66-64 league win over the Eureka College women's basketball team.

With Saturday's decision, Eureka still needs at least one win in its final two regular-season games to secure the outright league championship.

Greenville and Eureka played to nine ties and 12 lead changes Saturday. Neither team led by more than eight points. The Red Devils overcame a slow start and promptly secured their largest lead of the afternoon, 10-6, after a 3-pointer from junior guard Hayley Reneau (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./Illinois Central) with 4:39 left in the opening period.

The Panthers led 13-12 after one quarter. Neither side led by more than a possession in the second quarter. Kelly Lenz made two free throws to break a 29-29 tie with 2:30 left in the half, as both sides were scoreless over the remainder of the frame for a 31-29 GC lead at the break.

GC opened the second half with a 10-4 surge, claiming its biggest advantage of the game on Lenz's layup for a 41-33 cushion. Eureka quickly responded with an 8-0 run and pulled even, 41-41, on Reneau's jumper with 4:28 left in the quarter. GC regained a 50-47 lead after three quarters.

The Red Devils managed to pull even as late as the 2:44 mark of the final quarter when senior forward Michaela Balducci (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) split two free throws for a 62-62 tie. Greenville's Laura Goodnight answered with a 3-pointer to lead 65-62 with 1:56 left and the Panthers wouldn't trail again.

A Reneau layup sliced the EC deficit to 65-64 nine seconds left. GC went on split two free throws to push its lead to two, but Eureka couldn't beat the horn on the ensuing possession in its attempt to win the game.

Reneau scored 17 points and hauled down six rebounds. Balducci added 14 points and four steals. Sophomore forward Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) collected 10 rebounds.

Eureka will be back in action Wednesday at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena with another chance to win the league title against Westminster. The early tip-off is scheduled for 3 p.m.