Preview: Eureka Welcomes Familiar Foe Principia Saturday

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
EUREKA -- Eureka will break from St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action and welcome a familiar foe Saturday afternoon when the Red Devils host Principia at 1 p.m. inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
The Red Devils and Panthers have played 38 times since 1983 but will be meeting for the first time since Jan. 23, 2016. Principia suspended its women's basketball program following the 2015-16 campaign and have now resumed playing a varsity schedule this season.
The Red Devils are 4-7 this season, but have won three of their last four contests at home and will be in search of their second consecutive victory on Dave Darnall Court. Eureka is 12-5 at home under second-year head coach Amos Arbogast.
Junior guard Kennedy Dura and senior guard Samantha Sarnes share the team scoring lead with 11.5 points per game apiece. Dura is also the team leader with 4.8 assists and 2.5 steals per game and is the Red Devils' most accurate shooter from 3-point range, making 40 percent of her tries from beyond the arc.
Freshman Olivia Falls collects 6.2 rebounds per game and shoots a team-best 52 percent from the floor. Freshman Sierrah Seals gets 5.5 boards per contest.
Eureka scores 70.3 points per game as a team, but that average rises to 76.4 in the Red Devils' five home contests. EC has scored 80 or more twice at the Reagan Athletic Complex this season, including a season-high 93 points in a win over Robert Morris-Springfield on Nov. 15.
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.
Webster took its first lead of the second half at the 2:07 mark of the third quarter and erupted for 33 points in the fourth quarter to rally for a 79-62 SLIAC victory over Eureka last Wednesday night at Grant Gymnasium in Webster Groves, Mo.
Josie Morgan was 3-for-5 from 3-point range and a perfect 5-for-5 at the free throw line en route to a career-high 20 points. Olivia Falls and Samantha Sarnes added 10 points apiece and Ashley Harfst finished the contest with six steals.
The Panthers are 1-8 this season, earning their lone victory on Dec. 15 in a 53-49 home win over Iowa Wesleyan. The win was the Panthers' first at the varsity level since Feb. 9, 2016. Principia will be playing Saturday for the first time since its win over IWU.
More than 78 percent of the Panthers' scoring comes from two players -- junior guard Nikki Matters and senior center Sophia Hathaway. Matters pumps in 20.3 points per game on 40 percent shooting. Hathaway adds 14.0 points per contest. The duo combines to average more than 34 of PC's 44 shots per game.
Hathaway leads the team in rebounding with 8.9 per game. Matters collects 6.0 boards per contest and also paces the Panthers with 3.0 assists per game.
As a team, the Panthers shoot just 33 percent from the floor, 22 percent from 3-point range and 62 percent at the foul line. Opponents average 74.9 points per game.
While Principia is a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in most other sports, the Panthers' women's basketball program is playing a varsity schedule this season as an independent. PC competed in the SLIAC in women's basketball for 26 seasons from 1990 through 2016, suspended its program for the 2016-17 season and played a junior varsity schedule in 2017-18. 
The Red Devils own a 29-9 record against Principia over their last 38 matchups since 1983. Eureka has been especially dominant recently, winning 11 of the last 13 contests with PC since January 2012.
Only Samantha Sarnes remains on the Eureka roster from EC's previous meeting with the Panthers, a 65-52 win at Hay Field House in Elsah on Jan. 23, 2016. The Red Devils led 40-28 at halftime and never trailed over the game's final 33 minutes. Sarnes had a rebound and a steal in 10 minutes of action off the bench.
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.
Dory Smith is the head coach at Principia. She joined the program in the summer of 2017 and coached PC during a 14-game junior varsity schedule last winter.
Smith owns more than a decade of experience as a high school athletic director. She also serves as a mentor coordinator for first-year athletic directors in the state of Missouri.
Eureka will provide a live online video broadcast of Saturday's game. Links will be available at, and