ST. LOUIS – The Eureka men's basketball team got off to a hot start on the road on Saturday, but Fontbonne controlled the second half and topped the Red Devils 80-70 in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action.
Junior Charlie McKinty (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood/Illinois College) registered a team-high 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting, gathered eight rebounds and hit four 3-pointers in the loss for Eureka. Senior point guard Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) notched a season-high 13 points and dished a season-high seven assists while shooting 4-for-8 from the field.
Senior Ian Milsteadt (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria/Illinois Central College) finished with 11 points, while fellow senior J'Len Crawford added nine points and eight rebounds. They both had four assists.
Eureka jumped out to a 13-2 lead in the first six minutes, but Fontbonne closed the gap by the four-minute mark. The Griffins led by four and the Red Devils by two before halftime came with the two team's knotted up at 31-31.
The first few minutes of the second half were competitive. Then, a 3-pointer by Fontbonne's Anthony Jones tied it up at 36-36 and started a 12-2 run that gave the Griffins a seven point advantage.
A Hosea layup off an assist by Milsteadt ended the run, but the Griffins came right back with a 3-pointer by Kevin Anders and a layup by Caden Clark to give the home team its first double-digit lead with 14:06 to go.
The Red Devils stayed within striking distance, but Fontbonne made it difficult to chip away and managed to primarily keep it a double-digit game.
With less than five minutes in the half, the maroon and good finally started putting together a run. Crawford got fouled on a 3-pointer and made all three foul shots to cut the lead to eight. McKinty drilled a 3 to bring the Red Devils with five. Then, after a pair of Fontbonne free throws, McKinty hit from downtown again to make it 68-64.
There was still 3:34 left in the game, plenty of time for EC to come all the way back.
When Fontbonne's Brent Wagner answered with a 3, Crawford made a jumper, and a Fontbonne turnover later, Gonzalez sank a 3 to make it a two-point game at 71-69 with 1:55 remaining. However, Eureka couldn't get the stop, bucket or rebound it needed on the subsequent possession, resulting in a four-point lead for Fontbonne with 1:06 left.
Gonzalez went to the line with 1:05 left, made 1 of 2 chances to make it 73-70. Fontbonne made enough free throws to put the game away at the line from there.
Clark notched a game-high 22 points for Fontbonne. Elijah Rice followed with 18, while Wagner and Jones contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively. Fontbonne had four players finish with nine or more rebounds.
Eureka (7-9, 3-2 SLIAC) will look to bounce back on Tuesday when Greenville (1-16, 0-6) comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off at Reagan Athletic Complex.