Preview: Red Devils Aim to Knock off Fontbonne, Earn Another SLIAC Win

Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — With their first win of 2019 under their belt, the Eureka men will head to St. Louis to take on Fontbonne Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m.

The Red Devils are 14-12 in 26 meetings with the Griffins and will be looking for their sixth straight win over their St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference foes.

ABOUT EUREKA

Eureka enters this road contest 3-9 and 2-4 in SLIAC play, most recently claiming its third win of the season at home in a 87-71 comeback over Principia on Saturday. The Red Devils are currently tied for sixth in the SLIAC with Fontbonne and Iowa Wesleyan. A win here would pull them closer to the middle of the pack.

Junior Jordan Dehm — a Metamora product — posted a career-high 21 points in Saturday's triumph, matching senior guard and leading scorer Hank Thomas. Fellow guard Dakota Bennington (20.6 points per game) was right behind Dehm and Thomas with 19, along with six rebounds and four steals.

They were the only three Red Devils to reach double figures, but all five starters have posted 10 points or more in conference play this season.

Thomas, who averages 20.8 points per game, currently owns the third-best free-throw percentage in the country. Through 12 games, he's knocked down 49 of 52 from the line (.942). He's also leading the conference in assists with 5.5 per game.

Senior and four-year starter Alex Wiegand holds the best field goal percentage in the SLIAC (68.3).

All told, Eureka feature 10 returning letterwinners and four players who started at least five games for last season's team, which went 18-8 overall and finished as the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference runner-up with a 13-5 league record. The Red Devils have nearly a dozen newcomers on the 2018-19 roster, seven of which have freshman eligibility.

ABOUT FONTBONNE

Fontbonne is looking to bounce back from a one-point loss at Blackburn on Saturday. With the 81-80 defeat, the Griffins fell to 4-9 on the season and 2-4 in the SLIAC.

Kris McCAnn tallied a game-high 13 points for Fontbonne, which shot 51.6 percent from the field. Gus Kleekamp and Carter Otwell added 12 and 11 points, respectively.

The Griffins are averaging 77.6 points per game to the Red Devils' 88.8. Luke DeLine has carried the offensive load. He's currently fifth in the SLIAC in points per game (21), points (252) and field goals made (90) while shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and 46.7 percent from long range. He did not play in the Blackburn game, though.

RECENT HISTORY

The last time these teams met, Eureka took care of Fontbonne with ease, rolling to a 93-76 victory in its 2017-2018 regular-season finale. The Red Devils never trailed and racked up a 29-point halftime advantage – the largest of Chip Wilde's 12-season tenure.

Thomas posted a team-high 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting and dished six assists, while Bennington put up 14 points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.

The matchup earlier that season was much closer, though. Eureka had to scrap its way back from down 15 points to earn an 84-78 win. Bennington delivered 14 points off the bench and Thomas had 12.

MEET THE HEAD COACHES

The owner of nearly three decades of coaching experience at the collegiate level, Chip Wilde is in his 12th season as head coach of the Eureka College men's basketball team in 2018-19. The current campaign marks Wilde's 21st season as a collegiate basketball head coach.

Wilde has proved to be one of the most successful head coaches in the storied history of Eureka men's basketball, establishing the Red Devils as a steady presence in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference both on the court and in the classroom. Wilde entered the 2018-19 campaign with 135 wins, fourth-most in the century-long history of the program.

Lance Thornhill is in his fourth season as Fontbonne's head coach and 23rd with the program overall. As an assistant, he contributed to four conference tournament championships and four national tournament appearances.

A Missouri State graduate, Thornhill was a three-year letterwinner in golf and received Mid-Continent All-Conference honors in 1989.

 FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Fontbonne will provide a live online video broadcast of Wednesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.