EUREKA — The heat emanating from Dave Darnall Court could have melted the snow outside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena Sunday evening.
With speed, energy and lethal shooting, the Eureka College men raced to a 74-26 halftime score en route to a 102-80 home victory over St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival MacMurray.
Junior Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) — who finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds — already had a double-double at halftime. Senior Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) racked up a team-high 23 points, along with five rebounds and three assists. Junior Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) added 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while senior Donald Hardaway, Jr. (Lansing, Ill./Cimarron Memorial) chipped in with 10 points off the bench.
The Red Devils' 48-point lead at the half was the steepest in coach Chip Wilde's 12-year tenure at Eureka.
The team's assent was nearly instant as EC jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 87 seconds. All it took was a layup by Jordan Dehm, a hanging alley-oop by Dakota Bennington off a lob by Hank Thomas, a pair of free throws by Alex Wiegand (Washington, Ill./Washington) and a Thomas triple with a hand in his face.
In the first four minutes, the Red Devils (4-10, 3-5) made eight of their first nine shots from the field, extending the lead to 18-2. By the 13-minute mark, it was 32-4 and the Highlanders (4-11, 1-7) were already hustling into their third timeout huddle.
The lead continued to grow until the break.
The Red Devils cooled down and the Highlanders put together a few runs in the second half, but they were in too big of a hole to make it competitive. Logan Dorethy, Trevor Voss and Drew Burwinkel all scored 13 for the visitors.
Eureka finished with a 46.6 shooting percentage after hitting 26 of 41 shots from the field in the first half.