Preview: First-Place Red Devils Visit Fontbonne Wednesday

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

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The Eureka College men's basketball team will return to the road Wednesday for the first of back-to-back St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games away from home this week when the Red Devils take on league rival Fontbonne Wednesday at 8 p.m. in St. Louis, Mo.

PDF Version of Eureka Men's Basketball Game Notes

The winner of five of their last six SLIAC contests, the Red Devils own an 11-4 overall record and sole possession of first place in the league standings with a 6-2 conference record. Eureka won its seventh consecutive home game on Saturday, a 110-101 triumph over Iowa Wesleyan at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
Eureka remains an offensive force as it begins the final two-fifths of the regular season. EC ranks among the national top 50 with a 1.37 assist-to-turnover ratio (21st), a .762 free throw percentage (24th), a plus-10.5 scoring margin (43rd), 90.5 points per game (14th) 145 total 3-pointers made (47th) and just 11.8 turnovers per game (40th)
Additionally, Eureka ranks second nationally in defensive rebounds per game (33.3), 17th in total rebounds (653) and 23rd in total rebounds per game (43.5).
The Red Devils' 11-4 start remains the program's best start to a season in more than two decades. The last Eureka team to begin better than 11-4 were the 1993-94 Red Devils that opened the campaign 12-3.
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.
Shea Feehan has been selected as one of 100 players to the Watch List for the Bevo Francis Award, according to a Monday announcement by Small College Basketball. The award is presented annually to the player who has had the finest overall season within the affiliations of NCAA Division II, NCAA Division III, NAIA Division I, NAIA Division II, USCAA and NCCAA.
On Feb. 15, SCB will publish the next Watch List with 50 players. The list will be narrowed down to 25 players in a Watch List published on March 15. The finalists will be announced in a highlight video that will be released on March 31.
Playing in front of some of the most historic figures in the storied history of the Eureka College men's basketball program, the Red Devils made history of their own last Saturday in a 110-101 SLIAC victory over Iowa Wesleyan during EC's annual alumni celebration at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The decision marked EC's 100th regular-season SLIAC win since joining the league prior to the 2006-07 season.
EC led by as many as 14 in the first half and 59-46 at the break. Alex Wiegand scored in the paint at the 16:07 mark of the second half to help Eureka expand its lead to 74-52. The hosts' lead slipped to as small as eight at the 5:08 mark, 96-88, but Feehan doused any remaining IWU comeback efforts when he answered with a 3-pointer on the ensuing sequence. 
Shea Feehan scored 28 points to pass Michael Zasada (2006-10) for eighth place on Eureka's all-time scoring list with 1,350. Dakota Bennington added 23 and a team-best nine rebounds. Hank Thomas shot 7-for-11 for 18 points, Ryan McElmurry registered a double-double with 16 points and a career-high 11 assists. The Red Devils shot 60 percent as a team and went 12-for-25 from 3-point range.
The Griffins are 3-12 through their first 15 games, including a 1-7 SLIAC record for 10th place in the current conference standings. FBU has lost two in a row and seven of its last eight, but earned its lone league victory on Jan. 6 in a 78-77 win over MacMurray in St. Louis.
Junior guard Kris McCann is one of three Griffins to average double-digit point production, shooting 42 percent from the floor for a team-best 17.3 points per game. Sophomore guard Luke DeLine adds 15.6 points thanks to a 52 percent mark from 3-point range and freshman guard Jared Woodcock adds 10.3 points per game off the bench. McCann also averages 4.9 assists per game and DeLine hauls down 5.8 rebounds on average.
Like the Red Devils, FBU plays an up-tempo style that features a lot of points. The Griffins rank 80th in Division III in scoring with 82.2 points per game, but allow 89.1 points on average to rank 404th out of 416 Division III teams nationally. Two bright spots include an average of 17.4 assists per game that ranks 36th in the country, as well as a team 3-point field goal percentage of 38.4 that ranks 59th.
One of only four active charter members of the SLIAC, Fontbonne has won three regular-season SLIAC championships and five SLIAC Tournament crowns, including three in a row from 2007 through 2009. The Griffins have qualified for the SLIAC Tournament only once since 2010, dropping the championship game to Spalding in 2015.
Eureka and Fontbonne have split 24 all-time meetings since December 2001. Additionally, both sides have won six times in the series in 12 all-time matchups inside FBU's Mabee Gymnasium in St. Louis. 
The Red Devils swept last season's home-and-home series for the first time since the 2012-13 season, have won three in a row in the series and eight of the last 13 against the Griffins since February 2011.
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 128  wins at EC, third-most in the 99-year history of the program.
Lance Thornhill, a longtime assistant coach to SLIAC legend Lee McKinney and the owner of two decades as an assistant on the FBU bench, is in his third season as the Griffins' head coach. The Missouri State graduate is 13-51 overall since taking the reins of the program in 2015.
In addition to his current men's basketball responsibilities, the St. Louis area native is a three-time SLIAC Coach of the Year as Fontbonne's men's golf head coach, directing the Griffins to league titles in 2002, 2004 and 2006.