Preview: Eureka to Visit Blackburn For Final SLIAC Game of 2018

Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
EUREKA -- Eureka will return to the road Saturday in search of its first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory when the Red Devils make the 130-mile trip to Carlinville, Ill. for a 1 p.m. league contest at Blackburn. Saturday's game marks Eureka's final league contest before breaking for the holidays.
The Red Devils have won 14 consecutive games against the Beavers since January 2012. Eureka owns a 45-14 record against BC since 1983, including a 16-8 mark since becoming SLIAC rivals prior to the 2006-07 season.
The Red Devils are 2-5 overall this season and aim to end a four-game skid when they take the floor Saturday afternoon in Carlinville. Eureka is 0-3 in league action after dropping early-season contests to traditional league powers Greenville, Spalding and Westminster.
Eureka's 69.9 points per game rank fourth in the league, led by 12.3 points per game from junior guard Ashley Harfst. The Saunemin, Ill. native is one of the league's most effective at getting to the free throw line, going 24-for-26 to ranks second in the SLIAC at 92 percent.
Junior Kennedy Dura pumps in 10.0 points per contest and also ranks fourth in the league with 33 assists. She's also effective at the defensive end, blocking eight shots to rank third among SLIAC defenders.
Freshman Olivia Falls is the Red Devils' top rebounder with 6.1 per game. She also shoots a team-best 51 percent from the field.
Eureka returns two starters and three 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.
Eureka put together a dominant second quarter and ultimately erased a 17-point deficit in the final period, but visiting Westminster maintained its perfect league record in a 72-67 SLIAC victory over the Red Devils last Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
Samantha Sarnes scored 20 points to lead the Red Devils. Ashley Harfst followed with 16 points and a team-best nine rebounds and Josie Morgan tallied 13 points and five assists.
Throught eight games, Blackburn is 2-6 overall and 1-2 against conference opponents. The Beavers earned a non-league win over Robert Morris-Springfield, 71-63, on Nov. 20 in Carlinville. BC's lone SLIAC win was a 77-70 overtime decision at MacMurray on Nov. 28. Blackburn has dropped three contests since, including a 71-33 defeat at Greenville last Monday.
Sophomore guard Jenna Dudra averages 14.0 points per game on 39 percent shooting to pace an offense that ranks eighth in the league with 58.1 points per night. The Beavers shoot 34 percent from the field as a team and just 21 percent from 3-point range.
Freshman forward Daaiyah Wardell (10.5) and sophomore forward Savannah Kruse (10.1) give the Beavers three players in double-digit scoring production. Wardell, who has come off the bench in all six of her appearances, shoots 82 percent at the free throw line.
Senior center Gariel Pierce ranks third in the SLIAC with 10.4 rebounds per game. Pierce also shoots 44 percent from the floor at the offensive end.
The Beavers dominated the league in its early stages, winning five straight SLIAC Tournament championships from 1991 through 1995. BC is aiming to return to the conference's annual postseason for the first time since falling in the 2010 championship game to Fontbonne, 73-60.
Blackburn has been one of the Red Devils' most frequent opponents over the last several decades. Eureka is 45-14 in its last 59 matchups with the Beavers since 1983.
The Red Devils have won 14 straight over BC since an 88-66 win in Carlinville on Jan. 18, 2012. All but one of the victories on EC's current streak have been by double digits.
Eureka swept last season's home-and-home SLIAC series. Kennedy Dura scored 15 points and Samantha Sarnes tacked on 13 in the Red Devils' 71-54 win in Carlinville on Dec. 9, 2017, a game in which Eureka scored the first 13 points of the afternoon and led 36-12 at halftime.
The Red Devils also posted a 102-53 win over BC at the Reagan Athletic Complex last Jan. 27. Dura scored 18 points and a set career high with 12 assists. Sarnes tallied 21 points in her first collegiate start.
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.
Dr. James Chandler is in his second season as head coach at Blackburn. The 1992 Blackburn graduate won more than 200 games as a high school coach in the state of Missouri prior to his appointment at his alma mater.
Chandler played three years of varsity basketball at BC from 1986-1990.  As a player he was named to the all-conference team and also traveled to New Zealand as a member of the National Little College Athletic Association All-Star Team.
Blackburn will provide a live online video broadcast and of Saturday's game. Links will be available at, and Live stats will not be available.