Red Devils Return to SLIAC Schedule Against Spalding

Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.
Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.

PDF Version of Eureka Game Notes

EUREKA, Ill. -- Following a brief break from the league schedule, the Eureka College men's basketball team will return to St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference competition Thursday when the Red Devils welcome Spalding to Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena for an 8 p.m. start. Eureka will play six of its last nine games at home, all against SLIAC opponents.

ABOUT EUREKA

Eureka exceeded the century mark for the third time in the last four outings on Tuesday to improve its overall record to 11-5. The Red Devils are 5-4 in the SLIAC and currently own a share of the fourth and final spot in next month's SLIAC Tournament.

Tuesday's outburst increased Eureka's season scoring average to 94.4 points per game, on pace to shatter the single-season program record of 87.3 points per game set during the 1993-94 national championship season. Eureka's highest season scoring average during the program's NCAA Division III era is 83.6, set for late head coach Dennis Dighton during the 1996-97 season, the Red Devils' first as an exclusive member of Division III.

Shea Feehan's scoring average sits 28.4 points per game -- also on pace to surpass Eureka's single-season record for scoring average. Feehan can also set his sights on a pair of additional single-season scoring records.

The Eureka record for points scored in a season was set by Chris Peterson, who netted 653 points in 31 games during the Red Devils' 1993-94 season, one of three Red Devils to exceed 600 points during the national title season. Feehan's current scoring pace has him on track to score 710 points, based on a 25-game schedule.

Additionally, Feehan's pace of 710 points this season would break the single-season SLIAC record of 697 set by Webster's Jeff Reis during the 1990-91 season. Reis averaged 27.9 points per game that season.

League coaches picked Eureka to finish eighth during a poll conducted before the start of the season.

The Red Devils return two full-time starters and 10 letterwinners overall from last season's team that went 12-13 overall and 10-8 in the SLIAC to tie for third place in the final league standings. Sixteen newcomers have joined the program, including nine first-year freshmen, to give EC a roster size of 26 student-athletes.

RED DEVILS BLOW PAST LINCOLN CHRISTIAN

Eureka won its ninth straight game at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena Tuesday night, cruising to a 111-82 non-conference victory over Lincoln Christian. Kendall Davis went 15-for-16 from the floor to put up his second double-double of the season with 32 points and 10 rebounds.

The Red Devils led Tuesday's contest for all but 33 seconds, taking the lead for good when Jordan Dehm connected from 3 for a 5-2 lead. EC quickly doubled up the visitors when Shea Feehan gave the Red Devils a 20-10 lead with 14:42 left before halftime.

Eureka slowly built its lead, closing the half with three baskets from Davis in the final 39 seconds before intermission to lead 56-32 at halftime.

All 22 players made an appearance in the second half for the Red Devils, 14 of which scored. Blake Phillips, Brady Junk, Jordan Eakle and Ethan Zulz each made their collegiate debuts. Feehan scored 23 points and distributed five assists. Hank Thomas went 5-for-9 from 3-point range for 17 points. The Red Devils shot 57 percent from the field and went 14-for-32 from 3-point range.

Eureka's point total of 111 was the fourth-highest of the Chip Wilde coaching era and the Red Devils' largest output in a non-conference game since beating Messenger 117-57 on Nov. 23, 2002.

NON-CONFERENCE SUCCESS

Tuesday's victory allowed the Red Devils to close the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 6-1 mark, Chip Wilde's best record against non-league opponents in 10 seasons as head coach.

The .857 non-conference win percentage in 2016-17 is Eureka's best in 21 seasons as a member of an NCAA Division III conference.

ABOUT SPALDING

A perennial SLIAC power, Spalding has sputtered to a 3-15 overall record and a 2-8 mark in the SLIAC play this season. Despite the struggles, SU will come to Eureka riding a two-game win streak.

The Golden Eagles earned their first win of the season at Centre on Nov. 23, 87-77, but followed with 13 consecutive losses from Nov. 26 through Jan. 14. A 72-54 win at MacMurray on Jan. 18 snapped the skid and the SU followed with a 75-71 home win over Principia last Saturday.

Three regulars score at least 12.4 points per game, led by a 17.1 scoring average from senior big man Nick Trisko. The Greenville transfer also hauls down 12.3 rebounds per game and shoots 53 percent from the floor. Sophomore Rylan Rowe (14.5) and junior James Turner (12.4) also provide big offensive production for the Golden Eagles.

Spalding joined the SLIAC in 2009 and became eligible for the NCAA postseason in 2013 after completing the mandatory provisional period during its transition from the NAIA. The Golden Eagles have won or shared four SLIAC regular-season championship, including three straight from 2013 through 2015. The Golden Eagles have also won SLIAC Tournament crowns in 2013 and again in 2015.

ABOUT THE HEAD COACHES

Chip Wilde is in his 10th season directing the Red Devils. The Macomb, Ill. native has 115 wins at EC, fourth-most in program history.

In all, Wilde has coached two SLIAC Players of the Year, 15 All-SLIAC selections, five SLIAC All-Tournament Team selections, four SLIAC All-Defensive Team picks and 29 SLIAC Player of the Week choices.

Longtime coaching veteran Kevin Gray is in his 19th season at Spalding. The Louisville, Ky. native, who was named SLIAC Coach of the Year in 2011, 2013 and 2014, has guided the Golden Eagles to national tournament berths as members of the NAIA, USCAA and NCAA.

Prior to his arrival at Spalding, Gray earned coaching experience as an assistant on various NCAA Division I staffs, including Chattanooga, Alabama and Baylor. He is a 1976 graduate of Chattanooga and was a three-year captain for the Mocs.

SERIES VERSUS SPALDING

Eureka and Spalding have played 16 times since the Golden Eagles joined the SLIAC prior to the 2009-10 season. SU leads the series 11-5, but the Red Devils are 4-3 in games played at the Reagan Athletic Complex and earned their first-ever win over the Golden Eagles in Louisville last month.

Eureka and Spalding squared off in a memorable overtime contest in the 2013 SLIAC Tournament championship in Louisville. The Golden Eagles defeated the Red Devils, 64-62, to advance to their first-ever NCAA Division III Tournament.

LAST TIME VERSUS SPALDING

Kendall Davis hit a go-ahead jumper with 10 seconds remaining, his ninth field goal of the second half, to help the Red Devils erase a 14-point second-half deficit and defeat Spalding, 87-84, on Nov. 30, 2016 in Louisville, Ky.

Davis scored 10 consecutive points for the Red Devils in the final 68 seconds, including the game-winning basket.

Eureka trailed 82-73 with just 1:15 remaining before closing the contest on a 14-2 run. Davis started the rally with a 3-pointer at the 1:08 mark. After a foul and two missed SU free throws, Davis connected again from beyond the arc to slash the EC deficit to 82-79 with 45 seconds left.

Spalding's Keith Wallace split two foul shots on the ensuing trip, allowing Eureka to claw closer (83-81) on two free throws from Davis with 29 seconds left. Another EC foul gave two free throws to SU's James Turner, who split the foul shots and left Eureka within a single possession. Davis took advantage, scoring again for an 84-83 deficit with 17 seconds left.

Turner missed two more free throws after being fouled with 16 seconds left, allowing Davis to give the Red Devils an 85-84 lead on his basket with 10 seconds to play. The hosts turned the ball over on their next possession, allowing EC to get two more free throws from Hank Thomas with less than a second remaining. Spalding's desperation heave to tie the game was off the mark, giving the Red Devils an 87-84 win.

In all, the Golden Eagles went 2-for-8 from the foul line in the final 53 seconds and were held without a field goal for the final 2:17.

Davis scored 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting and a 4-for-5 performance from 3-point range. Shea Feehan poured in 27 points and hauled down seven rebounds. Thomas logged five assists.

Nick Trisko led the Golden Eagles with 22 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Eureka will provide a live video broadcast via its YouTube channel. Live statistics will also be available at EurekaRedDevils.com.

The Eureka College media relations staff will provide updates throughout the game via Twitter at @EurekaGameDay.