EUREKA, Ill. -- Rested from its longest break from game competition in more than five weeks, the Eureka College women's basketball team will host longtime St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference adversary Westminster Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
Preview: Rested Red Devils Host Westminster Saturday
Feb 09, 2018
Eureka is 15-7 this season and downed Monmouth on the road in non-conference action last Monday to end a brief two-game slide. The Red Devils are 10-3 in the SLIAC, two games behind current leader Greenville.
With Spalding's loss Thursday at Webster, Eureka has clinched a bid to the 2018 SLIAC Tournament. EC joins Fontbonne (1991-99, 2005-12), Blackburn (1991-98) and Westminster (2009-16) as the only teams in league history to make seven straight SLIAC Tournament semifinals.
Senior guard Hayley Reneau became just the third player in program history to score 500 points in a season with her 23-point effort Monday at Monmouth. Reneau's 518 points are fourth-most in a season at Eureka, while her 72 3-pointers rank second and her 186 field goals rank fourth.
Sophomore Kennedy Dura will enter Saturday's clash needing just four assists to equal Deb Kessinger's single-season school record of 148 assists set during the 1990-91 campaign.
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 CHURN OUT WIN MONDAY AT MONMOUTH
Behind a game-high 23 points from Hayley Reneau and 18 points from sophomore Kennedy Dura, Eureka won at Monmouth for the first time since 2001 and finished a season series sweep of the Fighting Scots in a 70-63 non-conference triumph on Monday night in Monmouth, Ill.
EC led 39-33 at halftime and 54-51 at the end of three. The lead dwindled to one on two separate occasions in the final period, but the Scots would never force a tied score or take the lead. Ashley Harfst's 3-point play with 5:46 remaining extended the advantage to 62-56 and two Dura free throws in the final minute gave the visitors their largest lead of the second half, 68-60. The Scots were limited to one basket over a stretch of nearly five minutes midway through the final quarter.
Samantha Sarnes added 12 off the bench. Eureka went 16-for-21 at the charity stripe and outrebounded the hosts, 37-27.
The Blue Jays are 12-10 overall and 7-7 in the league to remain locked in a tight battle for the final slot in the league tournament later this month. WC owns sole possession of fourth place and a half-game lead over fifth-place Fontbonne and Spalding. Westminster trounced Iowa Wesleyan on Wednesday, 87-57, but has dropped three of its last five league games since Jan. 20.
The bulk of Westminster's scoring comes from junior Kendahl Adams and Mirrakohl Johnson. Adams, one of three Blue Jays to start all 22 contests, averages 18.6 points per game to ranks second in the SLIAC behind Eureka's Hayley Reneau. Johnson adds 12.2 points per game and shoots 44 percent from the floor. The Blue Jays score 72.2 points per game as a team, fourth-most in the SLIAC and 51st-most in the country. Freshman Grace Archambault collects a team-best 9.5 rebounds per game, helping the Blue Jays to the nation's third-best rebounding margin at plus-14.9.
Westminster has won the outright regular-season crown in four of the last seven seasons. WC won back-to-back SLIAC Tournament championships in 2012 and 2013, but missed the tournament field last season to end a streak of eight straight semifinal appearances.
THE SERIES AGAINST WESTMINSTER
Westminster is 22-8 over the first 30 meetings between the two schools since the 1995-96 season, but Eureka has evened the momentum over the last five seasons. The Red Devils have won three in a row over the Blue Jays and six of the last 11 since Dec. 17, 2013. The Red Devils are 4-9 all-time against WC in Eureka.
LAST TIME VERSUS WESTMINSTER
Kerrigan Dura went for 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to secure her second collegiate triple-double and send the visiting Red Devils to 90-84 SLIAC victory in overtime at Westminster on Jan. 10 in Fulton, Mo.
Eureka outscored WC 15-9 in the overtime period. The Red Devils trailed for just 13 seconds in the extra period and took the lead for good when Hayley Reneau split two foul shots for a 78-77 edge with 3:13 to go. WC didn't have possession with a chance to tie over the last 2:27.
All five Eureka starters scored in double figures, led by a career-high 26 points from Ashley Harfst. Dooley tallied 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double. Westminster received 19 points from Kendahl Adams. The Blue Jays collected 35 offensive rebounds on their way to a 61-46 advantage on the glass, but were outscored by the Red Devils in the paint, 48-32.
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 EC to consecutive berths to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals in 2012 and 2013, including an appearance in the title game in 2013.
Like Arbogast, James Arnold is a SLIAC newcomer and began his first season as head coach of the Blue Jays in November. The 2001 Glenville State (W.V.) graduate was announced as the seventh head coach in Westminster history last May.
Prior to his arrival in Fulton, Arnold directed Central Methodist (Mo.) to a 79-45 record in four seasons (2011-15) as head coach. He was also head coach at NJCAA Highland (Kan.) and NJCAA North Central Missouri, as well as an assistant at NCAA Division I Southeast Missouri State over the previous two seasons.