EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College seniors Michaela Balducci (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) and Luci Weis (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community H.S.) combined for 34 points Saturday in the Red Devils' 74-66 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Iowa Wesleyan on Senior Day at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
The decision gave Eureka its 18th victory, the most by the Red Devils since the 2011-12 season. Eureka finished the league schedule with a 14-2 mark for its first outright SLIAC team championship since EC joined the league prior to the 2006-07 season.
The Red Devils led 21-19 after one quarter, but the visitors punched back with a solid second period. Darby Massner's 3-point play with 2:21 left before halftime extended IWU's lead to double digits, 38-26. The hosts recovered to trim its deficit to 40-35 thanks to back-to-back layups in the final 65 seconds of the half. IWU led 40-35 at intermission.
Facing the five-point deficit, Eureka roared back with a dominant third quarter. A 3-pointer from Kerrigan Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) pushed the Red Devils back in front, 45-44, part of a 27-8 blitz during the quarter. The advantage ballooned to as many as 15 points in the quarter when Weis scored for a 62-47 lead.
The Tigers pulled within six when Josie Zerrusen hit a 3-pointer to trail 62-56 with 6:48 remaining. Eureka responded with a 9-2 run led by eight points or more the rest of the way.
Weis shared game-high honors with 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting. Balducci added 15 points and nine rebounds and Dura poured in 15 points to go along with seven assists. Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) totaled 12 points to give the Red Devils four starters in double figures. Eureka outrebounded Iowa Wesleyan, 38-26.
Eureka will now turn its attention to the 2017 SLIAC Tournament, scheduled to begin Thursday at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The top-seeded Red Devils will host fourth-seeded Fontbonne in the second semifinal at 8 p.m. Second-seeded Greenville will play third-seeded Webster in the 6 p.m. semifinal. Thursday's winners will play next Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. for the tournament championship at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.