ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Division II Maryville chalked up a 70-52 victory over the Eureka men's basketball team on Friday afternoon, but the Red Devils made the Saints have to scrape their way back in the game first.
Senior Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) scored the first 13 points of the game for either team and led the Red Devils to a 21-4 lead in the first nine minutes of the game.
Eureka successfully held Maryville scoreless for the first 4 1/2 minutes of play, but after a 3-pointer by Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) extended the lead to 17 points with 11:20 left in the first half, the Saints called timeout and the recovery began.
Although Bennington finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-for-22 shooting with seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block, Maryville outscored the Red Devils 66-31 the rest of the way.
The comeback started with a 15-0 run for the Saints that lasted for six-plus minutes and didn't end until EC's Kyler Stork (Normal, Ill./Normal West) laid one in with 4:59 left in the half.
That momentarily gave EC a four-point edge over the home team, but Maryville gained its first lead on a jumper by Dezmond McDaniel with 1:33 until halftime. The Saints held a 28-25 lead at the break.
The Saints then opened the second half with a 7-0 run that extended Maryville's advantage to 10 points for the first time.
Eureka hung around, getting it down to single digits by the final 10 minutes, but the Red Devils couldn't keep up from there, as the lead swelled to 18 points in the final two minutes.
Maryville dominated the glass with a 52-27 rebound advantage, holding EC to zero second-chance points and only three offensive rebounds.
The Saints narrowly outshot Eureka, recording a 41.3 percent field goal percentage to the maroon and gold's 36.2, and made seven more trips to the free-throw line (17-10).
Four Maryville players hit double figures, with Jalen Gant notching a team-high 13 while making 9 of 10 free-throw attempts. Ross Ryan followed with 12, while McDaniel and Zach Coletta each contributed 10.
Stork put up eight points off the bench for the Red Devils on 4-of-6 shooting. Hosea distributed a team-high five assists.
Eureka (6-3, 2-1 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) will next take on Dallas on the road Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.