EUREKA — The Eureka women got the hot start they needed to seize the upper hand against Blackburn.
The Red Devils drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, knocked down three of their first five tries from distance and jumped out to a 9-0 lead over their St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes early Wednesday evening.
Less than two hours later, they walked out of Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena with a 79-65 victory.
Samantha Sarnes (Havana, Ill./Havana) led the Red Devils with 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. The senior hit 2 of 4 3-point tries and pulled down 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double. Freshman Olivia Falls (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) added a career-high 17 points and seven boards, junior Kennedy Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield) notched 16 points and six assists and freshman Josie Morgan (Washington, Ill./Washington) added 12 points and four assists.
Junior Ashley Harfst (Saunemin, Ill./Pontiac) racked up a game-high 11 rebounds to go with seven points.
With the win, Eureka improved to 9-10 on the season and 4-7 in the SLIAC. Blackburn fell to 4-16 and 1-11.
The Red Devils shot 50 percent in the first quarter of the game, gradually cooling down to finish at 43.3 on the night.
In the second quarter, EC led by as many as 23 points. It happened when Dura hit a jumper with 3:51 left in the first half. Blackburn responded by scoring the last five points of the half to make it an 18-point game at the break.
Then, late in the third, the Beavers made it a single-point game with an 8-1 run, before going into the final quarter down 63-52.
The visitors never went away entirely, but the Red Devils were able to keep their distance the rest of the way.
Callista Francis recorded a team-high 17 points for Blackburn on 8-of-10 shooting. Teammate Savannah Kruse added 16.
Eureka, which outrebounded Blackburn 48-31 in the win, was often able to get best of Blackburn with its confident ball movement. If Eureka wasn't driving, kicking and finding good looks, it was looking to get the edge in transition. The Red Devils notched 18 points off the fastbreak.
The win was EC's 16th straight over Blackburn.