EUREKA, Ill. -- With the holiday break in its rearview mirror, the Eureka College women's basketball team will return to the hardwood for the first time in 11 days when the Red Devils host Spalding in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action on Wednesday at 6 p.m. inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The SLIAC has tabbed Wednesday's bout against the Golden Eagles as its Game of the Week.
Preview: Red Devils Back in Action Wednesday Versus Spalding
Jan 02, 2018
Eureka is 7-5 overall and 3-1 in the SLIAC to own sole possession of second place in the early-season league standings. Since dropping the conference opener to Greenville on Nov. 29, the Red Devils have won three straight conference contests by an average of 19.3 points per game.
The Red Devils lead NCAA Division III with 243 total assists through their first 12 games and the team's average of 20.3 ranks fifth. Eureka also lead the SLIAC with 79.7 points per game and 8.4 3-pointers made per game. Additionally, EC has been strong defensively by limiting its opponents to a SLIAC-worst 35.9 field goal percentage.
Eight letterwinners return from Eureka's 20-win team that swept the the SLIAC regular season and tournament championships and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Seven of the returnees played in at least 27 games and four started at least 14 contests.
RED DEVILS SPLIT TWO-GAME TRIP TO OHIO
Before breaking for the holidays, the Red Devils took a two-game trip to the state of Ohio on Dec. 21-22. The Red Devils crushed Wooster on Dec. 21, 96-56, but lost the second game of the trip at Muskingum on Dec. 22, 67-60.
Hayley Reneau delivered a balanced effort with a game-high 21 points, seven steals and six assists, sophomore Ashley Harfst logged another double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds and the Red Devils earned their largest non-conference road victory over an NCAA Division III opponent since 1994 in thE 96-56 drubbing of Wooster.
The final 40-point margin was Eureka's biggest road win since an 83-42 triumph at MacMurray on Jan. 7, 2017. Thursday's decision also marked the Red Devils' widest margin of victory in a road game against a non-conference Division III foe since beating Principia 106-65 on Feb. 17, 1994.
Less than 24 hours after the win in Wooster, Muskingum took advantage of the game's ninth and final lead change on three free throws from Olivia Besancon with 1:27 remaining en route to a 67-60 non-conference victory over the Red Devils in New Concord, Ohio.
Reneau scored a game-high 28 points for EC. Kerrigan Dura joined Reneau in double figures with 15 points. Lexi Dooley tacked on 10 points and paced EC with eight rebounds. Eureka was plagued by a 3-for-21 performance from 3-point range and got to the free throw line only six times.
HAYLEY RENEAU COLLECTS ANOTHER SLIAC AWARD
For the third time this season and the fourth time in her 40-game Eureka career, senior guard Hayley Reneau has been selected SLIAC of the Week. Reneau put up two big games in the Red Devils' late-December trip to Ohio, averaging 24.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.0 steals, 3.5 assists and 2.0 blocked shots.
Reneau stuffed the stat sheet in Eureka's 96-56 win at Wooster on Dec. 21, totaling 21 points, seven steals, six assists and five rebounds. Less than 24 hours later at Muskingum, she put up 28 points on 13-for-21 shooting. For the week, she shot 53 percent from the floor.
The Golden Eagles own a 4-8 overall mark and a 2-2 record against SLIAC opponents. SU lost 72-59 to in-state non-conference rival Transylvania on Dec. 30 after splitting a two-game trip to the Daytona Beach Shootout on the Atlantic Coast on Dec. 20-21. Spalding has won just one of six true road games this season, a 79-52 triumph at MacMurray on Dec. 9.
Junior guard Alex Martin scores 12.5 points per game to lead a Spalding offense that puts up just 61.0 points per contest. Allison Just, a sophomore guard, tacks on 10.1 points on average and junior center Lelanda Matthews is the Golden Eagles' leading rebounder with 7.7 boards per contest, sixth-most in the SLIAC. SU commits 15.0 turnovers per game, lowest among SLIAC teams.
Spalding also puts pressure on its opponents at the defensive end -- its 57 blocked shots through 12 games rank 21st among 435 Division III teams.
The Golden Eagles went 13-11 overall last season and 8-8 in SLIAC play to finish sixth in the league and miss the conference tournament for the first time since 2012. SU was picked to finish fifth in the SLIAC this season by league coaches in a preseason poll.
THE SERIES AGAINST SPALDING
Spalding and Eureka have met 17 times since SU joined the SLIAC prior to the 2009-10 season. The Golden Eagles lead the all-time series, 11-6, but Eureka has won three in a row since January 2016.
The Red Devils swept last season's series, including a 76-60 win in Louisville that ended Eureka's five-game skid against the Golden Eagles at SU's Derek Smith Gymnasium. EC finished the home-and-home sweep in dramatic fashion at the Reagan Athletic Complex on Jan. 26 when Michaela Balducci buried a 3-pointer from the wing with less than two seconds remaining for a 66-63 win.
The two teams have met once in the SLIAC postseason, an 80-50 victory for the Golden Eagles in the 2015 championship game in Louisville.
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
Amos Arbogast is in his first season as head coach of the Red Devils. He was selected as the 12th head coach in program history on July 6, 2017.
Arbogast had previously served the EC men's basketball program as an assistant coach for six seasons and played pivotal role as an assistant for a program that has proved to be an annual contender in the SLIAC. Arbogast helped guide the Red Devils to consecutive berths to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals in 2012 and 2013, including an appearance in the title game in 2013.
Charlie Just is in his 13th season as head coach at Spalding. The 1977 Ohio Northern graduate won back-to-back SLIAC Coach of the Year awards in 2014 and again in 2015.
Just owns four decades of coaching experience between the high school and collegiate levels and is nearing 700 overall victories. He owns previous collegiate experience at NCAA Division II Bellarmine, leading his squads to eight NCAA Tournaments and the 1994 Final Four.