Red Devils Complete Epic Comeback at Fontbonne, 80-75

File photo.
File photo.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Eureka women's basketball team erased a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter and completed a historic comeback against Fontbonne to the tune of an 80-75 overtime victory on Saturday.

The final result and thrilling finish marked the Red Devils' biggest comeback victory since joining the SLIAC in 2006.

It happened on a roller coaster of a day for Eureka's Olivia Falls (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington). The Red Devils senior standout and two-time All-SLIAC honoree entered the game 11 points away from reaching the 1,000-career-points milestone.

She struggled with foul trouble early on, tallying three in the first quarter and picking up her fourth 18 seconds into the third. But, in the fourth, she returned and helped fuel the Red Devils surge, becoming the 18th player in program history to reach 1,000 points and putting away a pair of game-tying free throws that sent the game to overtime.

Falls finished with a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 6 of 10 from the field and 3 of 4 from the line and adding three assists. Ten of her 15 came in the fourth quarter. She was one of four Red Devils to reach double figures on the day.

Savanah Moore (Clinton, Ill./Mt. Pulaski/MacMurray) tallied a team-high and career-high 21 points, with 15 coming in the fourth quarter and overtime. During that time, the junior guard shot 5-for-6 from the floor, knocked two huge 3-pointers and made 3 of 4 free-throw attempts.

Abby Stotler (Wyoming, Ill./Stark County/MacMurray) racked up a season-high 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field with seven rebounds.

The Red Devils also got a huge lift off the bench from Madison Jernagin (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone/Blackburn). The junior who transferred from Blackburn at semester tallied 14 points and made four 3-pointers in 29 minutes of action in her eighth game as a Red Devil. She hit two triples in overtime and one in the fourth quarter.

Kennedy Jackson (Peoria, Ill./Limestone/Carl Sandburg) pulled down nine rebounds, and Hannah Burkiett (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood) chipped in with six points in a career-high 17 minutes off the bench.

Trailing 60-41 with 7:25 left, the Red Devils used a box-and-one defense on Fontbonne leading scorer Rylee Stafford to tally up enough defensive stops for the visitors to work their way back in the game.

Eureka pieced together a 19-3 run that included 12 unanswered points and over six minutes without a Fontbonne field goal.

Jernagin's trey with just over a minute left put Eureka within three points and a Moore layup on an assist by Falls made it a one-point game with 23 seconds left.

Jillian Venegas finally answered with a layup that gave the Griffins a three-point edge with 13 seconds left. Fontbonne then elected to foul and put Stotler at the line. She made the first, missed the second and then got her own rebound and shot again. This time, Falls got the rebound and got fouled, bringing her to the line with three seconds to go and the Red Devils trailing by two.

She sent the game to overtime with poise, and Eureka kept rolling from there. Jernagin quickly dropped in another 3 and a subsequent steal and layup by Shakaya Rogers (Hanover, Mich./Concord/Glen Oaks) set the tone for the rest of the way.

When the Griffins cut the lead to two after that, Jernagin hit from distance again. When they did it again, it was Moore who answered from deep. Moore scored six of the team's 15 in overtime, including the last three free throws of the game, which sealed the win.

Venegas and Stafford finished with 22 and 21 points for Fontbonne, respectively.

The win was the Red Devils' first of the season in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play.  

Eureka (5-8, 2-1 SLIAC) will next head to Spalding (6-9, 2-2 SLIAC) on Monday for a makeup game against the Golden Eagles. Tip-off is set for 2 p.m. CT.