MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa – Eureka College sophomore Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian H.S./Olivet Nazarene) put up his third collegiate double-double with game highs of 25 points and 12 rebounds and junior guard Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) tacked on 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting in the Red Devils' 93-77 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference win at Iowa Wesleyan, Wednesday night in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Eureka kept pace with league-leading Greenville, which maintained its one-game lead over the Red Devils in the league standings with a 129-112 win at Spalding on Wednesday. The Red Devils can still claim a share of the regular-season SLIAC crown with a win this Saturday against Fontbonne coupled with a Greenville loss to Webster.
The Red Devils opened with eight consecutive points Wednesday and went on to earn a wire-to-wire victory. The cushion reached double digits, 16-6, thanks to a Thomas jumper at the 15:32 mark of the first period.
The Tigers were able to shave their deficit back to six, 35-29, when Austin Banks hit from 3 with 4:40 to play before halftime, but EC ended the half on a 13-6 surge and equaled its largest lead of the first 20 minutes when Ryan McElmurry (Galesburg, Ill./Galesburg H.S./Black Hawk) connected from beyond the arc in the closing seconds for a 48-36 lead.
IWU closed within five on Mitchell Drey's 3-point play for a 52-47 deficit early in the second half. The Tigers kept their deficit at five as late as the 13:03 mark, but Eureka scored six in a row to grab a 63-52 advantage on a Shea Feehan (Peoria, Ill./Notre Dame H.S.) bucket with 11:06 remaining. The visitors' lead swelled to 78-63 after Thomas's basket with 4:10 to play, but Iowa Wesleyan responded by scoring 12 of the next 16 points to climb within seven, 82-75, at the 2:10 mark.
Bennington answered with a 3-point play on the Red Devils' next trip to effectively put the game away. Eureka scored the final eight points of the game.
Bennington was a perfect 8-for-8 from the free throw line Wednesday. Feehan scored 17 points off the bench in his return to the lineup after suffering an ankle injury at Webster on Jan. 31. Feehan now has 621 points this season, third-most in a season in program history and 32 shy of Chris Peterson's 1993-94 single-season Eureka record of 653.
Eureka pummeled the hosts on the glass, 47-28, and enjoyed a 15-0 advantage in second-chance points. IWU missed 41 field goal attempts Wednesday and collected only two offensive rebounds.
Brock Butler matched Bennington's effort with 25 points to pace the Tigers. Drey tacked on 21 points.
The Red Devils will bring the regular season to a close Saturday at 3 p.m. against Fontbonne at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. EC will host its annual Senior Day ceremony immediately prior to tip-off.