Posted: Nov 30, 2018
EUREKA -- Eureka will play the final game of a season-long three-game road trip Saturday afternoon when the Red Devils take on St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Spalding at noon CT in Louisville, Ky.
The Red Devils are 2-3 overall and 0-1 in league action. EC earned consecutive non-conference victories over USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield (93-54) and Rockford (82-53), but lost to Knox (73-68) and Monmouth (81-54) prior to last Wednesday's conference setback and defending SLIAC champion Greenville (82-57).
The Red Devils rank fourth among SLIAC teams with 70.8 points scored per game. EC shoots 38 percent from the field, 31 percent from 3-point range and 69 percent at the charity stripe. Eureka gets plenty of chances offensively, ranking second among league schools with 66 shot attempts per game.
Eureka boasts a balanced offense -- no player averages more than 12.6 points per game and five different players put up at least 8.6 points per contest. Junior guard Ashley Harfst averages a team-high 12.6 points per contest and converts 90 percent of her opportunities at the foul line. Junior guard Kennedy Dura is next with 10.8 points per contest and ranks second in the league with 26 assists one year removed from breaking the Red Devils' single-season assists record.
Senior Lexi Dooley is EC's top rebounder with 11.0 per game. Freshman Olivia Falls is next with 6.8 boards on average.
Eureka returns three starters and five letterwinners from last season's 18-win team that went to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals for the seventh consecutive season. The Red Devils were picked fifth in a preseason SLIAC poll conducted by league head coaches.
RED DEVILS DROP LEAGUE OPENER WEDNESDAY AT GREENVILLE
Samantha Sarnes scored 15 points and Lexi Dooley gathered 10 rebounds, but Eureka dropped its SLIAC opener Wednesday night in an 82-57 setback versus reigning league champion Greenville.
Eureka never led Wednesday's contest. GU led 22-14 after one period. Josie Morgan triggered an 8-0 EC burst with a bucket at the 3:42 mark of the second quarter and Sarnes ended the run with a triple for the visitors to trail 39-32, but the Panthers answered by scoring the final six points of the half to take a 45-32 lead into the locker room. EC kept its deficit at 13 as late as the 4:54 mark of the third quarter, but ultimately trailed 67-45 after 30 minutes.
Olivia Falls pumped in 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting and pulled down six boards. Ashley Harfst chipped in with 10 points and Kennedy Dura finished the bout with four steals at the defensive end.
Spalding will enter Saturday's contest with a 2-3 overall record. SU earned early-season victories over Concordia Chicago (60-44) and Otterbein (76-71), but lost non-league games to Belhaven (66-57), Centre (45-39) and Hanover (74-73). The Golden Eagles are the only SLIAC school yet to play a conference game. SU was picked second in the SLIAC in a preseason coaches' poll despite missing the league's postseason tournament each of the previous two seasons.
The Golden Eagles average 61.0 points per game, seventh-most among league schools. SU shoots 37 percent from the floor, 34 percent from beyond the arc and a league-worst 54 percent at the foul line.
Two of Spalding's top three scorers are freshmen. Guard Maleah Hirn scores a team-best 12.5 points per game but shoots just 30 percent from the field. Junior backcourt mate Megan Goeing nets 11.6 points per game and freshman center Hunter Wright averages 9.0 points per contest. Junior guard Allison Just, niece of head coach Charlie Just, paces the Golden Eagles with 7.4 rebounds per game.
Spalding University was founded in 1814 in Louisville, Ky., the southernmost school in the 10-team SLIAC. The Golden Eagles joined the league and NCAA Division III in 2009 and became eligible for postseason competition in 2012. The SU women's basketball program went to four consecutive SLIAC Tournaments from 2013 through 2016, including back-to-back crowns in 2014 and 2015.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Spalding and Eureka have met 19 times in women's basketball, a series the Golden Eagles lead 12-7. The Red Devils have won four of the last five meetings.
SU has won eight of 10 meetings in Louisville, including an 80-50 victory in the 2015 SLIAC Tournament championship game.
Last season, the two teams split their home-and-home series. Four Red Devils scored in double figures in EC's 77-69 win at the Reagan Athletic Complex on Jan. 3, Eureka's 100th regular-season SLIAC victory. Kennedy Dura had 19 points in the win.
Spalding returned the favor on Feb. 3, earning an 84-73 win in Louisville. Lexi Dooley scored 10 points and gathered 13 rebounds and Dura distributed seven assists, but a fourth-quarter scoring drought doomed the visitors in the 11-point loss.
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
Amos Arbogast is in his second season directing the Red Devils. The 2006 Iowa graduate directed Eureka to 18 wins last season, the most victories by a first-year EC head coach since Hall of Famer Sandy Schuster piloted EC to a 19-7 mark in 1991-92.
Arbogast, who served the Eureka men's basketball program as an assistant for six seasons prior to his appointment, welcomed nine newcomers to the program for the 2018-19 campaign.
Charlie Just is in his 14th 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.
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
Spalding will provide a live online video broadcast and live real-time statistics of Saturday's game. Links will be available at SpaldingAthletics.com, EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.