Eureka Thwarts Spalding Comeback Bid, 79-72

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

EUREKA — The Eureka men nearly ran Spalding off the court in the second half Wednesday night.

But the Golden Eagles made them earn it, cutting a 22-point lead to seven in the last four minutes.

The Red Devils ensured that was as close as they would come, holding off Spalding for a 79-72 victory in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.

With the win, the Red Devils improved to 6-10 on the season and 5-5 in the SLIAC. And they avenged an 88-80 loss to the Golden Eagles in the first half of the season.

All five starters reached double figures for the Red Devils. Junior Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) posted a double-double, netting a team-high 16 points and a team-high 12 rebounds. Another junior, Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin), added 15 points and five rebounds, while senior Alex Wiegand (Washington, Ill./Washington) contributed 14 points on a 7-of-7 shooting. 

Junior Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) and senior Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) had 13 points apiece. In addition to his scoring contributions, Bennington provided six rebounds, six assists and four steals.

Dominque Ellis had a team-high 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting for the Golden Eagles.

Spalding stayed within a couple of possessions of the home team for the first 15 minutes, but the Red Devils dominated the last three minutes of the half, using a 10-2 run to take a 38-24 lead into the half.

Juergens delivered six of the 10 points; while a pair of free throw by both Bennington and Thomas made up the rest.

EC scored the first five points of second half, stretched the lead to 19 for the first time by the 14-minute mark and made it 60-38 with a jumper by Dehm with 11:40 left.

Seven minutes later, however, the Golden Eagles were back within seven.

From there, Eureka managed to break the press, get to the line and sink enough free throws to hold the visitors at bay.

As a team, the Red Devils shot 48.1 percent from the field to Spalding's 39.4.