Preview: Red Devils Visit Principia Saturday

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

ELSAH, Ill. -- The Eureka College men's basketball team will take its first of four St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference road trips in a 15-day stretch when the first-place Red Devils make the 175-mile drive to the eastern bank of the Mississippi River for a 3 p.m. start against Principia in Elsah, Ill.

PDF Version of Eureka Men's Basketball Game Notes

The Red Devils own a share of first place in the current SLIAC standings with a 4-1 mark through their first five league contests. Eureka has opened with a 9-3 overall record (or better) for the second consecutive season and just the third time since the 1993-94 campaign.
Junior guards Shea Feehan and Hank Thomas lead an explosive Eureka offense that scores 88.8 poinst per game 17th among 416 NCAA Division III teams. Feehan averages 31.3 points per game this season and increased his career scoring total to 1,272 in Wednesday's win over Spalding to secure sole possession of 10th place on the Red Devils' all-time scoring list. His career scoring average of 26.5 points per game is the current all-time program record and leads all NCAA players that have scored at least 800 career points.
Additionally, Feehan ranks fourth in the Red Devils' modern era with 320 career free throws and seventh all-time with 158 career 3-pointers.
Thomas netted 16 points Wednesday to continue his march to becoming the 24th player in program history to score 1,000 career points. The Peoria Richwoods graduate will enter Saturday's game in Elsah with 796 career points and has made 124 career 3-pointers. He needs nine more triples to tie Erik Kurtenbach (2001-05) for 10th place on Eureka's career list since the 3-point line was introduced to the NCAA in 1986.
Eureka will enter Saturday's game with a team defensive rebounding average of 33.9 per game -- third-most in Division III. Jordan Dehm ranks fifth in the SLIAC and leads EC with 6.9 rebounds per game. Ryan McElmurry has 59 assists this season -- third-most in the league.
The Red Devils are in their 40th season as a member of NCAA Division III and their 12th season as a member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Eureka returns three starters, all juniors, from last season's 13-win team that broke the program's single-season record for team scoring with 90.5 points per game. In all, EC returns 18 letterwinners from last season.
Eureka won at home for the sixth consecutive outing, kept hold of its first-place share of the SLIAC standings and earned its largest margin of victory in 18 all-time meetings with Spalding in Wednesday's 77-58 league win over the Golden Eagles at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
The Red Devils led 35-28 at halftime and the visitors failed to challenge Eureka's lead in the second half. The Red Devils effectively put the game on ice with a 14-0 run late in the game, turning a 10-point lead into a 77-53 margin. SU didn't score for more than four minutes during the Red Devils' late surge.
Shea Feehan registered a game-high 31 points for the hosts. Hank Thomas finished with 16 points and logged his first collegiate blocked shot in the second half. Ryan McElmurry dished seven assists and Jordan Dehm collected a team-best six rebounds. The Red Devils shot 44 percent from the floor, connected on 10 3-pointers and committed only six turnovers as a team.
Principia will welcome the Red Devils with a 4-7 overall record and a 3-2 record in conference action to own a share fourth place in the standings. The Panthers played only five players in their Tuesday victory over Blackburn, an 80-66 triumph in Elsah. PC also won in league play at Iowa Wesleyan on Nov. 28, 85-78, and crushed MacMurray 80-52 in Elsah on Dec. 9.
Eureka boasts the league's top scoring in duo of Shea Feehan and Hank Thomas, but Principia's has the SLIAC's second-ranked tandem in sophomore Trevaughn Goodman and junior Michah Paulson. Goodman ranks fourth in the league with 19.8 points per contest, followed by Paulson in fifth with 19.5 points per game. Stunningly, Paulson hasn't left the floor in 10 of the Panthers' 11 contests this season and, with his 45-minute effort in an overtime loss versus Ozarks (Ark.) on Nov. 18, ranks second nationally with 40.2 minutes played per contest. Four different Panthers rank among the national top 50 in minutes played per game.
With senior Parker Davidson adding a scoring average of 14.5, the Panthers are the only SLIAC team to have three different players averaging at least 14.5 points per game. Davidson is also the league's top rebounder with 9.8 boards per game.
Principia leads the SLIAC and ranks 22nd in the country with a team field goal percentage of 49.6. Goodman, was voted SLIAC Newcomer of the Year last winter, leads the league and ranks 11th in Division III with a 66.4 field goal percentage.
Last season, the Panthers went 12-12 overall and 11-7 in league games to qualify for the SLIAC Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2005. PC, one of six active charter members of the league, was picked seventh in this season's coaches poll.
Eureka has played Principia 47 times in men's basketball since the beginning of the Dave Darnall coaching era in 1974. The Red Devils own a 40-7 record versus the Panthers in that time frame.
The Red Devils are 20-6 in their last 26 visits to Hay Field House. EC is also18-4 against PC as SLIAC rivals since Eureka joined the league in 2006. The Red Devils have won six of the last seven in the series since February 2014, but Eureka and Principia split last season's home-and-home series with the home team winning each game.
The owner of more than two decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 11th season as head coach at Eureka. The current campaign marks Wilde's 20th season as a collegiate basketball head coach.
Wilde has proved to be one of the most successful head coaches in the storied history of Eureka men's basketball, establishing the Red Devils as a steady presence in the SLIAC both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde has 125 wins, third-most in the 99-year history of the program.
Todd Zimmerman is in his second season directing the Panthers and guided PC to its first SLIAC Tournament appearance in 12 years last season. Zimmerman, who has an overall record of 16-19 as head coach, served as an assistant to both the men's and women's basketball programs at Principia prior to his appointment as head coach.
A four-year letterwinner in men's basketball at Principia (2007-11), Zimmerman is the Panthers' all-time leader in points (1,556) and assists (431).