Eureka Looks to Continue Climb Against Fontbonne

Eureka Looks to Continue Climb Against Fontbonne

EUREKA – The Eureka women's basketball team just might be peaking at the right time.

After going 2-5 in January, the Red Devils have won four of their past five games, and are eyeing a top-three finish in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.

On Thursday, the team went down to the wire with Spalding and came out on top 63-60 to complete their first sweep of the season.

On Saturday, the Red Devils will look to secure their second sweep of the season, when Fontbonne comes to town. Tip-off inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center is set for 1 p.m.

Eureka (9-11, 5-5 SLIAC) and Fontbonne (9-11, 5-5 SLIAC) have identical records on the season and in SLIAC play. However, the Red Devils hold the edge in the standings due to one of the highlights of their season.

On Jan. 22, Eureka went to Fontbonne and fell into a deep hole. The Red Devils trailed the Griffins 60-41 with 7:25 left in the fourth quarter. Then, they came roaring back. The visitors pieced together a 19-3 run that closed the gap and sent the game to overtime. Eureka rolled to an 80-75 win from there.

It was a crushing loss for the Griffins, and the road hasn't gotten any easier since then. The team has recently lost to Webster twice and to Greenville once, while handily besting standings basement-dwellers Blackburn and Principia.

The Griffins have the league's leading scorer in senior Rylee Stafford, who is averaging 21.1 points per game. Fellow senior guard Kourtney White is second in the SLIAC in rebounding with 8.9 boards per game, second in field-goal percentage (55.6 percent) and fourth in 3-point percentage (39.3). Senior forward Jillian Venegas averages a little below double figures, posting 9.4 points per game.

Fontbonne is third in the league in scoring with 69.4 points per game on the season and 73.9 in SLIAC play. The team is shooting 44.1 percent in SLIAC play (third), 32.7 from distance (fourth) and 59.3 percent from free-throw line (seventh).

The Griffins are last in the league in rebounding with 36.5 boards per game, but they're good at distributing the ball (third in assists with 16.9 per game).

The Red Devils average 65 points per game, but have posted 70.6 over the last five games. The maroon and gold has three players who are averaging double figures. Senior guard/forward Olivia Falls is putting up 14.2 points per game while shooting 50.7 percent from the field (fourth best in the SLIAC) and pulling down eight boards per game (fifth best in the SLIAC).

Senior Shakaya Rogers and junior Sydney Hannam each average 10.1 points per game. Savanah Moore is right behind them with 9.7 points per game. Junior Abby Stotler and senior Kennedy Jackson contribute 8 and 7.5 points per game, respectively.

Jackson is fifth in the league in field-goal percentage, sitting right behind Falls at 47.9 percent. She's coming off a big game in the win at Spalding, where she dropped 16 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Hannam, a junior transfer from Spoon River, is up to fifth in the league in 3-point percentage.

Senior point guard Marissa Murphy has also been a factor during this busy week averaging 8.2 points, five rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.75 steals per game.

On Saturday, the Red Devils will certainly have to deal with tired legs, but they will also have a lot of confidence from the way that they've been playing, and motivation to keep it going.