Preview: Eureka Seeks Road Redemption Wednesday at Fontbonne

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

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The Eureka College women's basketball team will look to avenge its only St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season road loss in the last 696 days when the Red Devils travel to St. Louis, Mo. Wednesday night for a 6 p.m. league matchup with Fontbonne.

PDF Version of Eureka Women's Basketball Game Notes

The Red Devils will roar into St. Louis Wednesday with a 10-5 overall record and a 6-1 mark against SLIAC opponents. Eureka has won three in a row overall, eight of its last 10 since the beginning of December and six consecutive games against conference foes. 
Eureka leads the nine-team SLIAC in scoring with 80.5 points per game, including a league-high 83.4 average in SLIAC action. Overall, the Red Devils own a 6-1 record when reaching 80 points this season. EC also leads the SLIAC with 8.2 3-pointers per game, 31.0 defensive rebounds per game and 20.3 assists per game. Additionally, opponents shoot a league-worst 34.9 percent against the Red Devils.
Hayley Reneau continues to be the SLIAC's leading scorer with 23.6 points per game. The Washington, Ill. native has also been active on defense with a league-high 68 steals. Kerrigan Dura will enter Wednesday's game as the conference leader with 99 assists, followed by sister Kennedy Dura with 92 assists. Kerrigan also ranks second in the SLIAC with 8.9 rebounds per game.
Eight letterwinners return from Eureka's 20-win team that swept the the SLIAC regular season and tournament championships and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Seven of the returnees played in at least 27 games and four started at least 14 contests. 
Kennedy Dura equaled a career high with 20 points, Hayley Reneau also tallied 20 and all nine available Red Devils scored in EC's 84-46 SLIAC victory over Iowa Wesleyan last Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. Saturday's 39-point margin was EC's largest margin of victory in a SLIAC game this season. 
Dura's jumper on the final possession of the first quarter allowed Eureka to lead 30-8 after 10 minutes. The Red Devils kept their foot on the gas pedal throughout the afternoon. The advantage was 67-36 at the end of the third quarter. The hosts claimed their widest margin midway through the final period when Reneau's basket made the score 80-39.
Dura shot 8-for-14 overall, 4-for-5 from 3-point range and swatted a career-high 4 blocked shots. Reneau was 7-for-17 overall, 5-for-7 at the free throw line and collected six steals. Lexi Dooley delivered her second consecutive double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. The Red Devils overwhelmed IWU in the rebounding battle to the tune of a 54-33 advantage, allowing EC to hold a 32-14 edge on points scored in the paint.
Eureka has added a non-conference game to its regular-season schedule and will visit Monmouth on Monday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in Monmouth, Ill. The Red Devils' Feb. 12 road game at NCAA Division I Western Illinois will now be an exhibition contest.
Eureka defeated Monmouth, 91-78, at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena on Nov. 21. Next month's game will represent the Red Devils' first trip to Monmouth since Nov. 25, 2009.
The Griffins have an even 8-8 overall record and a 4-3 league record to own a share of fourth place in the SLIAC standings. FBU has won its last two outings, including a narrow 56-54 win at Iowa Wesleyan last Wednesday. The Griffins are 5-3 on their home floor this season.
Fontbonne's leading scorer is junior guard Paige Black. The St. Louis native pumps in 12.6 points per game on 35 percent shooting for FBU. She also leads the team with 3.3 steals and 3.1 assists per game. Rylee Stafford, a freshman from Jackson, Mo., follows with 9.4 points per game off the bench and sophomore forward Raven Venegas produces 9.2 points and a team-best 6.0 rebounds on average.
The Griffins rely heavily on the 3-point shot -- their 429 attempts are seventh-most in the country this season. They've made 123 field goals from beyond the arc, 12th-most nationally, but their team percentage of 28.7 ranks in the bottom half of Division III (219th). The Griffins' 7.7 3-point makes per game rank second in the SLIAC -- behind Eureka's 8.2 successful tries per game.
The Griffins, who were picked to finish sixth in the SLIAC this season in a preseason coaches' poll, boast the winningest women's basketball program in conference history with 277 all-time league wins. FBU has won seven regular-season SLIAC titles, including at least a share of four in a row from 1998 through 2001. The Griffins have also claimed three SLIAC Tournament championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 in 2001.
Fontbonne leads the all-time series that dates back to January 2000, 16-12. The Griffins won 13 of the first 14 meetings between the two schools, but the Red Devils' victory on Jan. 14, 2012 triggered a stretch in which EC has won 11 of the last 14 bouts in the series. Despite the recent success, Eureka has lost its last two trips to FBU's Mabee Gymnasium and is 4-8 in 12 all-time meetings in St. Louis.
The Red Devils won two out of three games against Fontbonne last season, including an 86-55 rout of the Griffins in the SLIAC Tournament semifinals at the Reagan Athletic Complex on Feb. 23, 2017. Last season's semifinal matchup was the second SLIAC Tournament meeting between the two programs -- Eureka also won a semifinal game in 2012, a 63-56 win in Fulton, Mo. that represented the Red Devils' first-ever SLIAC Tournament win.
Amos Arbogast is in his first season as head coach of the Red Devils. He was selected as the 12th head coach in program history on July 6, 2017. 
Arbogast had previously served the EC men's basketball program as an assistant coach for six seasons and played pivotal role as an assistant for a program that has proved to be an annual contender in the SLIAC. Arbogast helped guide the Red Devils to consecutive berths to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals in 2012 and 2013, including an appearance in the title game in 2013.
Maureen Sias, a 2003 graduate of Fontbonne, is in her fourth season as head coach of the Griffins.  She is 40-52 overall, guiding FBU a fourth-place SLIAC finish last season and the Griffins' first SLIAC Tournament apperance since 2012.
Sias played four seasons for the Griffins (1999-03) and holds the program's all-time record for free throw percentage (85%). She also served FBU as an assistant coach for five seasons prior to being appointed head coach in 2014 and owns a master's degree from Fontbonne.