THE OPENING TIP-OFF
The Eureka women's basketball team is in position to secure a pair of St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference season series sweeps this week.
On Thursday, the Red Devils will head to MacMurray to take on the Highlanders for the second time this season at 5:30 p.m.. Then, on Saturday, they'll be back home for another meeting with Iowa Wesleyan at 1 p.m.
With just three weeks left in the regular season, the Eureka women's basketball team is sitting just on the edge of contention.
The Red Devils are tied with Westminster for fifth place in the conference with a 7-5 league record and an 11-8 mark overall after falling short to the Blue Jays on Saturday.
EC had a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter, but Westminster rallied, put together a 30-point frame and earned an 88-76 win.
Now, the maroon and gold needs a pair of big wins this week before challenges against the top four teams in the league rolls around to complete the regular season.
On Saturday, Olivia Falls racked up a career-high 30 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor and 18-of-21 shooting from the free-throw line. With two more made free throws, Falls would have tied recent EC Hall of Fame inductee Caty Eeten for most free throws made in a single game.
Earlier in the week in a 77-37 win over Principia, Jadyn Mitchell dropped a career-high 24 points, Harfst double-doubled with 18 ad 12, and Falls tied a career-high 17.
The Red Devils lead the league in rebounds per game with 42.5. Harfst gathers a league-high 11.2 boards per game, with Olivia Falls following with 10.2. They're also limiting opponents to a league-low 36.9 percent field goal percentage.
EC is second in the league in scoring (75.5) and steals (13.2). Falls leads the league in field-goal percentage (59.2) and Harfst leads the league in free-throw percentage (88.5), while Marissa Murphy has recorded a league-high 53 steals.
Kennedy Dura has distributed a league-high 77 assists.
With a 3-9 league record and a 5-14 record overall, the Highlanders are looking to snap a three-game losings streak.
Since taking care of Principia and upsetting Westminster a couple of weeks ago, MacMurray has fallen at Fontbonne (70-47), at Spalding (78-76) and at home against Webster (88-61).
In Saturday's home loss against the Gorloks, the home team shot just 32.1 percent from the field. Savannah Moore recorded a team-high 16 points for the Highlanders, and Alexis Doyle added 11.
Doyle (10.8) and Moore (10.1) both average a little over 10 points per game, while Abby Stotler (9.9) and Aliana Vance (9.1) are a little under. Stotler is the team's top rebounder at 8.1 boards per game.
The Highlanders average under 60 points per game while shooting 33.5 percent from field, and are near the bottom of the league in both categories.
When Eureka faced MacMurray at home earlier this season, the Red Devils had their best shooting day of the season (47.1 percent from the field and 13 3-pointers), while holding MacMurray to 58 points on 34.3 percent shooting.
The Red Devils have won 18 straight over the Highlanders.
ABOUT IOWA WESLEYAN
Like MacMurray, the Tigers are 3-9 in SLIAC play and 3-16 overall.
Iowa Wesleyan's league wins have come over Principia (twice) and MacMurray. The team also came within nine against Blackburn.
Most recently, though, the Tigers have dropped back-to-back home games against Westminster and Spalding.
Harriet Fowler scored a team-high 17 points for the Tigers off the bench. Maddie Williamson followed with 16 points and five assists, and Morgan McCrea added 14 points and a team-high seven boards.
Allie Massner is the team's leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, followed by McCrea (14.1) and Williamson (11.5). She is second in the league in 3-pointers made with 46 in 116 ties and fifth in 3-point field goal percentage (39.7). McCrea is fourth with 44 in 140 3-point tries.
As a team, the Tigers rely heavily on the 3, and are tied with Fontbonne for the most made triples on the season with 160 in 484 attempts. They're third in the league in 3-point percentage at 34.1.
They're second in the league in free-throw percentage (73.8), but second to last in free-throw attempts (260 compared to league-leading Eureka's 460).
Iowa Wesleyan is averaging 60.2 points per game on 38.9 percent shooting while giving up a league-high 82.7 points per game.
The Red Devils beat the Tigers by 23 last month, winning their sixth straight in the series and improving to 16-6 all-time.