THE OPENING TIP-OFF
EUREKA -- The year 2019 is winding down, and the Eureka women's basketball is looking to end it with a couple of victories.
On Wednesday, the Red Devils will play their final regular-season game of the calendar year with a non-conference road matchup against Anderson (Ind.) at 1 p.m. Then, 24 hours later, they'll take on Lincoln (Mo.) in a road exhibition matchup.
Eureka is heading into this final week of 2019 games with a 6-3 record.
The Red Devils have put together two different three-game winning streaks. They opened the season by topping Rockford, Knox and St. Mary-of-the-Woods, and two weeks ago, took down Blackburn, Calvary Bible and Principia in four days.
In between, there was a road loss at Millikin and a loss to Knox in the rematch of an overtime showdown, and on Saturday, EC fell short against Westminster in the team's first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss. Eureka kept it close down the stretch but ultimately lost 80-71 in a game that featured 10 ties and 22 lead changes.
Despite the loss, senior Kennedy Dura had one of her best showings of the season, notching a season-high 20 points while shooting 8-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-9 from 3-point range. It was the 5-foot-5 guard's highest shooting percentage of the season and the second time this winter that she's hit four 3-pointers.
She also distributed a season-high eight assists, putting her within three of setting a new program record for career assists. After Saturday, Dura is sitting at 413 – two behind record holder Molly Hardesty (2002-06).
Harfst and Falls lead the league in rebounds with 12.3 and 11.1 boards per game, respectively. Falls also leads the league in field-goal percentage (58.1), Dura leads the league in assists with 38 and Ja'Keesha Hawkins leads the league in steals (26).
As a team, the Red Devils lead the SLIAC in points (80.6), rebounds (48.2) and steals (14.1) per game.
Through eight games, Anderson is 2-6 on the season and 0-3 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The Ravens enter this one after dropping three close games in a row. They fell to Defiance 56-54, Transylvania 69-56 and Mount St. Joseph 65-61.
This losing streak came after splitting their first four games of the season, which included a 67-50 win over Bob Jones at home and a 70-54 victory over Miami University-Middletown in the Wilmington Tournament.
In the most recent loss, Lexi Dellinger dropped 21 points while knocking down four 3-pointers. Payton Moore followed with 18 points, and Hannah Hawkins contributed a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Dellinger, a 5-foot-5 guard sophomore, is the team's leading scorer on the season. She's averaging 15.5 points per night while shooting 40.8 percent from the floor and 41.8 percent from distance. Within the team's three conference games, she has posted 20.7 points while shooting 46.7 percent.
The 6-foot sophomore Moore also averages double figures with 12 points per game, and Hawkins, a 6-foot-2 junior, leads the team with seven boards per game.
LAST TIME AROUND
The last time these teams met, Kennedy Dura dropped 16 points and led Eureka to a 72-66 non-conference triumph over Anderson on Dec. 19. 2018.
Eureka did much of its damage at the free throw line, combining to go 23-for-29 as a team. Dura distributed five assists and had three steals to share the team lead with Marissa Murphy.
Anderson rallied all the way within 68-64 with 1:19 left, but Dura followed a timeout with an interior bucket for a 70-64 advantage in the final minute. Another basket from Ja'Keesha Hawkins made the score 70-66 with 38 ticks remaining, but the Ravens failed to score again. Olivia Falls and Dura made foul shots in the final 24 seconds to set the final margin.
It was EC's third win over the Ravens in three tries.
Lincoln, a Division II school in Jefferson City, Mo., is currently 2-8 on the year.
The Blue Tigers trounced EC's SLIAC foe, MacMurray, 93-37, and recently took down NAIA's Hannibal-LaGrange, 54-45.
Lincoln is 0-2 in Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association play.