Preview: Eureka Travels to Eastern Illinois in Sunday Exhibition

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
EUREKA -- Eureka will break from the regular season schedule Sunday afternoon in a 4:15 p.m. exhibition game at NCAA Division I Eastern Illinois at Lantz Arena in Charleston, Ill. The game against the Panthers will be the Red Devils' first on-court action since a Dec. 19 non-conference victory over Anderson.
The Red Devils and Panthers have never met previously in women's basketball. Sunday's game marks Eureka's ninth contest against NCAA Division I opposition since 2013 and its first since an exhibition at Western Illinois last February. 
Eureka is 4-6 overall and will be back in action for the first time in nearly two weeks. The Red Devils are also 1-3 against St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opponents, earning their lone victory in a Dec. 15 triumph at Blackburn.
Kennedy Dura paces the Eureka offense with 12.1 points per game. She also leads the SLIAC and ranks 42nd nationally with 5.1 assists per game. Dura, who broke Eureka's single-season assist record as a sophomore last winter, is one of only eight players in program history with 300 career assists (316) and needs five more helpers to reach fifth place on the Red Devils' all-time list.
Ashley Harfst joins Dura as scorers in double figures with 11.4 points per contest. The active career Eureka leader in free throws (184) and free throw attempts (242), Harfst leads the SLIAC and ranks 10th in Division III this season with a 90.5 free-throw percentage (38-for-42). Harfst's effort allows the Red Devils to lead the nine-team SLIAC in free throw makes per game (15.8) and free throw attempts per game (22.5).
Eureka scores 71.1 points per contest on 37 percent shooting as a team. Eureka, which scored a season-high 93 points in a non-conference win over USCAA Robet Morris-Springfield on Nov. 15, has exceeded the 70-point plateau in three consecutive outings since Dec. 15.
Eureka returns two starters and three letterwinners from last season's 18-win team that went to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals for the seventh consecutive season. The Red Devils were picked fifth in a preseason SLIAC poll conducted by league head coaches.
Kennedy Dura led Eureka with 16 points, Samantha Sarnes tacked on 15 points and the Red Devils led for all but 58 seconds in a 72-66 non-conference triumph over Anderson at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center on Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Eureka did much of its damage at the free throw line, combining to go 23-for-29 as a team. Sarnes was perfect in six tries at the line and added six rebounds. Sierrah Seals added nine points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Dura distributed five assists and had three steals to share the team lead with Marissa Murphy.
The Panthers are 5-5 through their first 10 games this season and will be in search of consecutive victories after posting a 63-39 victory over Indiana State on Friday, Dec. 21. Sunday's game against the Red Devils is EIU's final non-conference game before embarking on the 18-game Ohio Valley Conference schedule on Jan. 3.
Eastern Illinois is a perfect 4-0 this season at Lantz Arena. Sunday's game will also be the Panthers' second against an NCAA Division III opponent -- EIU won an exhibition game against Illinois Wesleyan on Nov. 1 in Charleston, 86-82.
Karle Pace, a sophomore guard from Clarksville, Tenn., has started all 10 games and leads EIU in scoring with 15.3 points per game. She shoots 50 percent from the floor, 40 percent from 3-point range and 72 percent at the foul line. Fellow sophomore Taylor Steele also averages double figures with 11.7 points per contest and has made a team-best 19 3-pointers.
The Panthers' top rebounder is Jennifer Nehls with 7.0 boards per game. Grace Lennox paces WIU with 33 assists and 24 steals. Lennox's 2.4 steals per game ranks 74th among all Division I players.
As a team, EIU scores 67.7 points per game on 42 percent shooting. The EIU defense has been particularly strong, ranking 23rd in Division I with 22.0 turnovers forced per game and limiting opponents to just 27 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Eastern Illinois University competes in NCAA Division I as a full-time member of the Ohio Valley Conference. The institution is located in Charleston, Ill., approximately a 90-mile drive east of Springfield. EIU was founded in 1895 and has an enrollment of more than 7,000 students.
When the Red Devils take the Lantz Arena floor Sunday afternoon, it will mark the program's ninth game against a Division I opponent since the 2013-14 season. The game against EIU will be the fifth exhibition contest in that time frame. EC remains in search of its first all-time victory against an active Division I opponent.
Eureka has previously played road contests at Omaha, Western Illinois (twice), Bradley (twice), Evansville, Murray State and Illinois State.
Amos Arbogast is in his second season directing the Red Devils. The 2006 Iowa graduate directed Eureka to 18 wins last season, the most victories by a first-year EC head coach since Hall of Famer Sandy Schuster piloted EC to a 19-7 mark in 1991-92.
Arbogast, who served the Eureka men's basketball program as an assistant for six seasons prior to his appointment, welcomed nine newcomers to the program for the 2018-19 campaign.
The 2018-19 season is Matt Bollant's second second as head coach at EIU. He owns an 8-32 record on the sideline in Charleston.
A 1994 graduate of Winona State, Bollant owns nearly two decades of experience as a head coach at the collegiate level. He was 25 games or more in all five of his seasons at NAIA Bryan (Tenn.) (2002-07) and later won 87 percent of his games as head coach at Division I Green Bay from 2007 through 2012. The Phoenix went 85-5 in Horizon League action and went to four consecutive NCAA Tournaments. Bollant coached at Illinois from 2012 until 2017.
Sunday's game will be broadcast live on ESPN+. Eastern Illinois will also provide a live stream of a local radio broadcast on WEIU as well as live stats. Links to the both broadcasts and the live stats will be available at,, and