Preview: Red Devils Look to End Season With Win

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

EUREKA — The 2018-2019 campaign is coming to a close on Saturday, and the Eureka women have one last chance to defend their home court.

The Red Devils will host Iowa Wesleyan in their St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season finale at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center at 1 p.m.

ABOUT EUREKA

After surviving Wednesday night's 71-69 victory at MacMurray, Eureka is in a position to complete the season with a .500 record in the SLIAC and finish fifth in the league.

The Red Devils are 7-8 in the conference and 13-11 on the season. They're also winners of five of their last six games.

On Wednesday, lone senior Samantha Sarnes recorded a team-high 17 points, along with five rebounds and three assists. Sarnes is the team's leading scorer (12.6), and she ranks seventh all-time in program history in 3-point field goals with 117.  

Junior Kennedy Dura added 11 points, four steals and two assists. The SLIAC's assists leader (102 on the season), Dura is third in program history in assists (367) and eighth in 3-pointers (102). She's also has the second-most blocks in SLIAC play (23) this season.

Junior Ashley Harfst and freshman Olivia Falls are sixth and eighth in rebounds in SLIAC play, pulling down 7.9 and 6.7 boards, respectively. Harfst also owns the 21st-best free-throw percentage in the nation (86.5), and Falls has the fifth-best field-goal percentage in the league (52.7).

Harfst (12), freshman Josie Morgan (10.9) and Falls (10.6) all average double figures for the Red Devils. Dura is right behind the pack at 9.8.

EC is third in the SLIAC in free-throw percentage (69.8), and fourth in points (71), rebounds (41) and assists (15.8) per game.

Eureka returns two starters and three letterwinners from last season's 18-win team, which 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.

ABOUT IOWA WESLEYAN

Unlike the last time these teams played, Iowa Wesleyan enters Saturday's game four games behind the Red Devils in the SLIAC standings. The Tigers are 5-17 on the season and 3-12 in SLIAC play.

Their conference wins came with a one-point win over MaMurray and a sweep over Blackburn. They're coming off an 81-55 loss against Fontbonne.

IWU's top player is senior veteran Darby Massner, who averages 17.2 points and 10.8 rebounds per game. She is third in rebounds and fourth in scoring in conference. Her younger sister, Allie Massner, contributes 14.3 points per game.

As a team, the Tigers shoot 33.8 percent from the field and average 57.1 points per game. They lead the league in free-throw shooting (73.4) and are fifth in 3-point shooting (30.5).

RECENT HISTORY

Eureka is gunning for its sixth straight win over Iowa Wesleyan on Saturday. Last month's 73-56 road victory locked up the team's second five-game win streak against the Tigers.

The Red Devils are 14-6 all-time and have swept the Tigers the past two seasons. A win would extend the sweep streak to three.

On Jan. 16, Eureka racked up 28 points in the fourth quarter while shooting 61.5 percent from the field to pull away down the stretch. Sarnes tallied 12 of her team-high 21 points in the final frame. Falls and Morgan added 16 and 15 points, respectively.

Neither game was competitive last season. Dura dropped a then-career-high 20 points in an 84-46 rout and later broke Deb Kessinger's Eureka record for assists in a single season in a 78-54 triumph.

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.

Jack Bruns is in his second season at the helm for Iowa Wesleyan. He became the Tigers' 11th women's coach in program history in April 2017 after spending several years as an assistant coach.

A 2011 Central College graduate, Bruns was a three-year letterwinner on the basketball team.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Eureka will provide a live online video broadcast of Saturday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.