WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian H.S./Olivet Nazarene) scored 24 points to lead a group of five Eureka starters that scored in double figures for the second consecutive game, but St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference unbeaten Webster didn't trail after halftime and withstood a big EC rally midway through the second half to down the Red Devils 84-76, Wednesday night at Grant Gymnasium in Webster Groves, Mo.
Bennington's effort marked his sixth 20-point game of the season. Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S.) earned the night's only double-double with 11 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods H.S.) poured in 12 points and distributed nine assists. The Red Devils shot 45 percent (33-for-74) from the field and combined for 20 assists as a team.
Neither team led by more than three points in the early stages of the first half until WU grabbed a 22-17 advantage thanks to Josh Johnson's basket with 12:09 remaining before halftime. The Gorloks' lead swelled to double digits as early as the 5:51 mark of the period, but the visitors responded with a 12-4 run and pulled within 42-40 on Kyler Stork's (Normal, Ill./Normal West H.S./Greenville) layup in the final minute. Eureka's halftime deficit was 44-40.
Bennington pulled the Red Devils even, 53-53, with two free throws at the 13:59 mark of the second half. The visitors had possession with a chance to shoot for the lead just one more time the rest of the way, as Webster scored the next seven points to reclaim a 60-53 lead.
Eureka's final push came late. Consecutive field goals from Bennington punctuated a 10-4 surge and pulled the Red Devils within 71-67 with 4:22 to go, but EC was held scoreless over the next several possessions. The WU lead eventually ballooned back to 10 on Johnson's jumper at the 1:55 mark.
The Red Devils will play their fourth home game of the season and their first home game in four weeks this Saturday in a 3 p.m. SLIAC bout with Principia and Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.