SLIAC Grind Continues for EC Women

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

THE OPENING TIP-OFF

If the season ended today, the Eureka women's basketball team would be in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament field.

But there are eight games left, so there's still plenty of work to be done.

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On Tuesday, the Red Devils will look to fortify their position when they host Principia inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena at 5:30 p.m.

Then, on Saturday, they'll head to Fulton, Missouri, for a rematch against Westminster at 1 p.m.

ABOUT EUREKA   

Through 17 games, the Red Devils are 10-7 on the season and 6-4 in the SLIAC, sitting tied for fourth with Spalding in the standings.

The team is 4-3 in the month of January after the team's third split in as many weeks.

The Red Devils couldn't keep pace with Greenville in an 80-55 loss to the Panthers on the road last Wednesday, but they turned around and notched a 30-point victory over Blackburn at home on Saturday.

The maroon and held the Beavers to single digits in a 43-7 first half en route to complete the team's first sweep of the season.

EC can notch another one with another emphatic victory over Principia on Tuesday.

The last time the Red Devils played the Panthers, they limited their opponent to 20 points for the first time in program history dating back to 1983. Their 86-20 win on the road was the team's fourth 66-point in in program history.

On Saturday, EC pieced a together a balanced effort, with six players scoring between 16 and nine points and four pulling down 8-10 rebounds.

Whitney Bozarth led the way with a 16-point effort on 6-of-15 shooting from the floor and going 4-for-7 from distance.

The Red Devils are among the top three scoring teams in the league. Webster and Greenville are tied at 75.9 points per game, and EC is right behind at 75.6. Eureka leads the league in rebounds (42.7) and steals (13.9), and is limiting opponents to a league-low 36.9 percent shooting.

Four Red Devils are currently averaging double figures: Olivia Falls (14.9), Ashley Harfst (13.4), Jadyn Mitchell (12.2) and Ja'Keesha Hawkins (10.6). Bozarth is right behind them at 9.4.

Harfst, who recorded the 1,000th point of her career last week at Greenville, leads the league in rebounding, gathering 11 boards per game. Falls is currently third at 9.9.

Falls leads the league in field-goal percentage, making nearly 60 percent of the shots she takes. Harfst is the league's top free-throw shooter at 88.5 percent from the stripe.

Marissa Murphy and Hawkins have the most steals in the conference, with 50 and 43, respectively.

ABOUT PRINCIPIA

Through 14 games, the Panthers are still looking for their first win of the season.

They came close on Saturday, falling to Iowa Wesleyan by just five points, 68-63.

The Panthers led by 10 points at the half, but in the second half, the Tigers outscored them 26-18 to seize the win.

According to coach Dory Smith, the Panthers met every goal except winning the game. They outrebounded Iowa Wesleyan, only had 11 turnovers and shot over 70 percent from the free-throw line.

Nikki Matters scored a team-high 31 points and had 11 rebounds. Sophia Hathaway was named SLIAC Player of the Week after finishing the week with an average of 31 points, 17 rebounds and 5.5 blocked shots against Fontbonne and Iowa Wesleyan.

Despite its record, Principia will be heading to Eureka riding good vibes.

The Red Devils have won 14 of the last 16 games against the Panthers and lead the all-time series 32-9.

ABOUT WESTMINSTER

Westminster took care of Eureka the last time around, but the Blue Jays are a spot below the Red Devils in the standings

The Blue Jays are 6-11 and 5-5 in SLIAC play heading into Wednesday's matchup at Iowa Wesleyan.

They're coming off a string of close games, including back-to-back narrow losses against Greenville and MacMurray, respectively.

Last Wednesday, they fell short at MacMurray 66-64, and on Saturday, the Panthers edged them by three. Prior to that, there was a 75-70 overtime win over Spalding and a 12-point loss to Fontbonne.

On Saturday, Reese Arnold dropped 30 points on 11-of-19 shooting while knocking down four 3-pointers. Mikalyn Callahan and Kallee Dowler both contributed 15 points apiece.

Abbie Reece had the hot hand last time EC faced the Blue Jays, dropping 29 on Dave Darnall Court, while Calahan added 16.

Arnold leads the team in scoring with 14.6 points per game while shooting 42.5 percent.

Dowler and Reece add 12.6 and 10.3, respectively.