First-Half Run, Wild Finish Send Eureka Past Monmouth, 97-96

Photo courtesy of Mollie Albrecht.
Photo courtesy of Mollie Albrecht.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Eureka College junior guard Shea Feehan (Peoria, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) tallied a game-high 36 points, including a pair of free throws with four seconds to play that proved to be the game-winning points, to lift the Red Devils to a 97-96 non-conference victory over Monmouth, Saturday afternoon at Glennie Gymnasiun in Monmouth, Ill.

Saturday's victory was Eureka's first in Monmouth in six tries since the Red Devils joined NCAA Division III in 1978. Unofficial archived records show the decision marked EC's first win over the Scots in Monmouth since at least the 1949-50 season. The win was also Chip Wilde's 120th as head coach of the Red Devils. He needs one more victory to tie Eureka Hall of Famer Ralph McKinzie for third place on the program's all-time wins list.

Eureka led by two points when Feehan was fouled and pushed down two free throws for a 97-93 lead with only four seconds remaining in regulation. Monmouth quickly advanced the ball and put itself in a position to tie the game when Austin Holman was fouled on a successful 3-point try with less than a second remaining. After a Eureka timeout, Holman made what appeared to be the game-tying free throw, but officials called a lane violation against the Scots on the free throw attempt and disallowed the tying point. Eureka quickly inbounded the ball to waste the final time remaining and secured the 97-96 victory.

The Red Devils trailed 28-20 at the 8:49 mark of the first half before a decisive run by the visitors swung the momentum. A jumper from Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) triggered a 27-9 EC burst to end the half. Eureka took a 33-32 lead on a Thomas triple with 4:25 to go and extended the advantage to 11 when Thomas hit another 3-pointer to lead 45-34 in the final minute. The Eureka lead was 47-36 at halftime.

Ryan McElmurry (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg H.S./Black Hawk) gave the Red Devils their largest lead of the afternoon, 49-36, with a jumper on EC's first possession of the second half. A Feehan 3-point play allowed EC to lead by double digits (83-73) as late as the 5:34 mark of the second period before the Scots rallied.

Stephon Bobbit's jumper pulled Monmouth even at 83-83 with 3:16 to play. Another bucket from Lamont Mitchell pushed MC in front, 87-85, before Feehan forced an 87-87 deadlock with 1:28 to go. The Scots had one final lead, 88-87, before a 3-point play by Brady Sanders (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S./Illinois Wesleyan) staked Eureka to a 90-88 lead. Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin H.S.) pushed the visitors' lead to four with two more free throws and a 92-88 advantage with 41 seconds left.

Both teams went on to split a pair of free throws before Mitchell's bucket pulled the Scots within 93-91 with 11 seconds left, setting the stage for Feehan's game-winning free throws in the final seconds.

Similar to last season's win over the Scots at the Reagan Athletic Complex, Feehan scored 26 of his game-high 36 points after halftime. He was a perfect 10-for-10 from the free throw line to lead the Red Devils' 23-for-29 team effort.

Thomas scored 20 and Alex Wiegand (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) collected his second straight double-double with 11 points and a career-high 11 rebounds. McElmurry had five assists and Sanders came off the bench for 11 points, eight rebounds and a 7-for-7 performance from the free throw line.

Mitchell scored 22 points to pace the hosts. The Scots outscored Eureka in the paint, 50-36, but went just 6-for-23 from 3-point range.

Eureka will face a quick turnaround Sunday in a 1 p.m. start against Knox in Galesburg, Ill. The Red Devils downed the Prairie Fire in Galesburg last November, 84-57.