Preview: Eureka Takes Final Regular-Season Road Trip Wednesday

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

MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa -- The Eureka College men's basketball team will enter the final week of the regular season still in pursuit of a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship when the Red Devils visit Iowa Wesleyan Wednesday for an 8 p.m. league bout in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The game against the Tigers represents EC's final road trip of the regular season.

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The Red Devils have won three in a row to improve to 16-7 overall and 11-5 in the SLIAC. Eureka's current overall win total of 16 and SLIAC win total of 11 are its largest since finishing the 2012-13 campaign with 18 wins overall and 12 wins in the conference.
Eureka averages 90.3 points per game and is near the edge of surpassing the single-season team scoring record of 90.5 set last winter. Three Red Devils combine to score more than two-thirds of the team's points -- Shea Feehan (31.8), Hank Thomas (17.1) and Dakota Bennington (16.6). All three players have had at least one 25-point game this season, led the team in scoring at least one victory and shoot 42 percent or better from the floor.
The Red Devils lead Division III with 34.0 defensive rebounds per game. Eureka also ranks 13th nationally in total rebounds per game (44.0), 13th in scoring offense (90.3) and 20th in team free throw percentage (.761).
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.
Dakota Bennington and Jordan Dehm each put up double-doubles, two of six Red Devils to score in double figures in EC's 91-59 SLIAC rout of Westminster, Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
Eureka saw its 11-point halftime lead dip to five at the 16:18 mark of the second half. The Red Devils regained the double-digit cushion on a 15-1 run in which the Blue Jays were held without a field goal for nearly six minutes. Eureka's advantage reached 35 in the final minute.
Hank Thomas poured in 16 points, Austin Juergens scored 12 off the bench and Brady Sanders and Ryan McElmurry finished with 11 apiece. Eureka overwhelmed the Blue Jays on the glass, 57-33, and outscored WC in the paint, 38-26.
Eureka's 91-59 win over Westminster on Saturday secured a SLIAC Tournament berth for the Red Devils, their fifth in 12 seasons and first since 2013. EC will enter the final week of the regular season in sole possession of second place in the league standings, one game behind defending champion Greenville
The Red Devils can earn at least a share of their first-ever SLIAC regular-season championship by winning each of their final two games in conjunction with a Greenville loss. The Panthers visit Spalding Wednesday and will host Webster on Saturday.
Iowa Wesleyan has dropped four of its last five and 10 of its last 14 outings for a 5-18 overall record. The Tigers, who fell 84-83 to Fontbonne on Saturday in St. Louis, are also 5-11 in the league to own ninth place.
Senior guard Brock Butler scores 26.3 points per game, second-most in the league. One only two Tigers and 11 players in the SLIAC to start 23 games this season, Butler's 207 field goals and 81 3-point field goals lead the 10-team SLIAC. Fellow senior Mitchell Drey logs 16.1 points per game and Elijah Johnson nets 11.5. Butler is IWU's top rebounder at 6.6 per contest.
The Tigers boast an uptempo offense, ranking second in the conference with 9.3 3-pointers per game and a team average of 80.3 points. IWU struggles rebounding, ranking last in the league with 30.3 rebounds per game and a minue-14.4 average rebounding margin.
IWU is ineligible for the NCAA and SLIAC postseasons due to their provisional status as a member of Division III. The 2017-18 season is IWU's final provisional season as its completes its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division III.
Eureka is 23-14 against IWU over the last 37 matchups between the two schools, including a 6-11 record in Mount Pleasant and a 5-4 mark since becoming SLIAC foes prior to the 2013-14 campaign. The Red Devils topped the Tigers 110-101 last month at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
Eureka downed Iowa Wesleyan 110-101 at the Reagan Athletic Complex on Jan. 13, 2017. The victory marked the Red Devils' 100th all-time SLIAC regular-season victory.
Shea Feehan scored 28 points and Dakota Bennington added 23 and a team-best nine rebounds for EC. Brock Butler registered game highs with 32 points and 10 rebounds for Iowa Wesleyan. Jake Neubauer poured in 28. IWU lost despite making 14 3-pointers.
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 133 wins at EC, third-most in the 99-year history of the program.
Former Upper Iowa assistant Alex Huisman is in his fourth season as head coach at Iowa Wesleyan. The 2011 UIU graduate owns a 44-56 record with the Tigers.
Huisman served Upper Iowa as a men's basketball graduate assistant for two seasons before jumping across the state to be an assistant coach for the Tigers.