Preview: Red Devils Seeking Bounce-Back Win at Westminster

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

 FULTON, Mo. — The Eureka women's three-game win streak came to an end Wednesday night.

Saturday's road trip offers the Red Devils a chance to bounce back against a Westminster team that only edged them by five last month. The Red Devils and Blue Jays tip off at 1 p.m.

ABOUT EUREKA

The Red Devils fell under .500 after dropping a 78-59 contest to Spalding on Wednesday. They're now 8-9 on the season and 3-6 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They're still gunning for their first win over a top-four conference team.

On Wednesday, EC led early, then fell behind in the first half, came close to catching up in the third quarter and got left behind in the fourth. It's going to take a complete performance to take down the Blue Jays and get back on track.

Junior Ashley Harfst recorded a team-high 15 points and eight rebounds in the loss, while junior Kennedy Dura added 12 points and five assists, and senior Ja'Keesha Hawkins contributed 10 points off the bench.

Dura, who averages 10.2 points per game, is the SLIAC's assists leader. She's one of four Red Devils who put up over double figures; senior Samantha Sarnes (11.6), freshman Josie Morgan (11.5) and Harfst (11.2) are the other three. Freshman Olivia Falls isn't far behind at 9.3.

Harfst and Falls are the team's leading rebounders with 6.4 and 6.3 boards per game, respectively.

Eureka ranks seconds in the SLIAC in assists per game (18.1) and fourth in field goal percentage (30.3), steals per game (12.2), blocks per game (2.9) and points per game (70.5).

Eureka returns two starters and three letterwinners from last season's 18-win team, which 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.

ABOUT SPALDING

Westminster is one of two teams in the SLIAC that only has two conference losses. Webster is the other, and Greenville sits at the top of the perch with none.

The Blue Jays have lost to both Webster and Greenville, but they've beaten everyone else, most recently topping Blackburn by 22 points on Wednesday to improve to 14-4 on the season and 8-2 in the conference.

With an 81.3 points per game average, they're the highest scoring team in the SLIAC and own the league's second-highest field goal percentage (43.2).They also lead the conference in 3-point percentage (33.4) and rebounds per game (44.4).

A pair of seniors handle the bulk of the scoring for the Blue Jay. Kendahl Adams is the conference's leading scorer at an 18.8 points per game clip, and is third in assists (71). Mirrakohl Johnson is third in points per game (17.2) and, impressively, second in field goal percentage (57.6), as well as rebounds per game (11).

RECENT HISTORY

This will be the 33rd meeting between the Red Devils and the Blue Jays.

Westminster owns a 23-9 all-time series record over Eureka, and in December, it snapped a four-game losing streak to the Red Devils.

In that game, Eureka fell behind 12-0 and 21-4 out of the gate, but it outscored Westminster 19-8 in the second quarter and ultimately closed a 17-point gap in the fourth before falling short, 72-67.

This will be the 21st showdown between the Red Devils and the Golden Eagles.

Sarnes dropped a team-high 20 points for EC, while Harfst and Morgan combined for 29.

The Blue Jays knocked down 11 of 23 3s, with Rei Imamura, who hasn't played the past four games, drilling 5 of 7 and finishing with a team-high 19 points. Adams followed with 17.

MEET THE HEAD COACHES

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.

James Arnold is in his second season at Westminster. The 2001 Glenville State (W.V.) directed the Blue Jays to the SLIAC Tournament championship game last February.

Prior to his arrival in Fulton, Arnold directed Central Methodist (Mo.) to a 79-45 record in four seasons (2011-15) as head coach. He was also head coach at NJCAA Highland (Kan.) and NJCAA North Central Missouri, as well as an assistant at NCAA Division I Southeast Missouri State.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Westminster will provide a live online video broadcast of Wednesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.