Red Devils Hold on, Knock Off Spalding in Nail-Biter, 75-74

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

EUREKA — It came down to the final seconds, but the Eureka women's basketball team delivered late and seized a marquee win on Thursday evening, edging Spalding 75-74.

Down a point with the ball and 7.4 seconds left on the clock, the Red Devils executed perfectly.

The Golden Eagles pressed with two players in the backcourt, giving space for Olivia Falls (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) to check toward the ball and toss it back to Harfst.

Harfst proceeded to bounce it back to a cutting Falls, who drove it hard into the paint for an emphatic finish through contact with three seconds left on the clock.

Falls missed the ensuing free throw, but a Spalding foul was called on the rebound. By the time the Golden Eagles got the ball back, there were only 1.2 seconds left to respond, and they ended up turning it over.

With the win, the Red Devils improved to 9-5 and 5-2 in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They're now tied with the Golden Eagles for second behind the Webster Gorloks, who will be coming to town on Saturday.

Harfst finished with a double-double of a team-high 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. The senior shot 5-for-9 from the field and made 7 of 10 free throws.

Jadyn Mitchell (Flanagan, Ill./Flanagan-Cornel) recorded 16 points while making 6-of-6 free-throw tries and hitting a couple of massive 3s.

The last one kept the Red Devils in the game late. After falling behind by two points on a 3-pointers by Spalding's Maleah Hirn with 57.4 seconds left, Kennedy Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield) got her own rebound, dished it out to Whitney Bozarth (Normal, Ill./Normal West), who found Mitchell on the other wing for the go-ahead 3.

Dura finished with 13 points and had seven assists. Falls added 12 points and Marissa Murphy (Canton, Ill./Canton) contributed 11 off the bench while shooting 4-of-6 from the floor and making 3 of 3 free throws.

The Red Devils came out strong, shot 50 percent in the first quarter and held a six-point lead going into the second.

It was all about staying focused and holding off the Golden Eagles from there. In the second quarter, Spalding went 8-for-17 from the floor and closed the gap to make it 39-39 at halftime.

Spalding scored the first bucket out of the third quarter, but EC responded by scoring eight unanswered to go back up six.

EC led by nine after a pair of Harfst free throws with 1:05 left in the quarter and led 57-49 heading into the final frame.

The Golden Eagles came for the Red Devils in the fourth quarter with full-court pressure and jumpers galore. They knocked down five 3-pointers and went 10-for-17 from the field.

The visitors finally went ahead with a minute left after ripping off a 9-0 run. However, Mitchell drilled her big shot on the next Red Devils' possession to make it 73-72, and after Hirn answered with 27 seconds remaining, the maroon and gold capitalized against the press to take the lead for the final time.

Spalding's Hunter Wright finished with a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 9-for-12 from the floor. Hirn followed with 17 and Megan Goeing added 11.

The Red Devils (9-5, 5-2 SLIAC) will next host Webster on Saturday at 1 p.m.