THE OPENING TIP-OFF
The Eureka men's basketball team went on the road twice for non-conference contests over winter break.
Now, the Red Devils are going on the road for the games that really matter.
EC will continue St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference play against Iowa Wesleyan at Olan G. Ruble Arena on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Then, on Saturday, the team will take on Fonbonnne at the Dunham Student Activity Center at 3 p.m.
Eleven games into the season and four games into conference play, Eureka remains one of the teams to beat in the SLIAC.
The Red Devils are 8-3 on the season and 3-1 in the league. That puts them at the top of the conference standings, along with Westminster, Blackburn, Greenville and Webster. They've topped Blackburn, Principia and MacMurray, and fallen short against Westminster.
Iowa Wesleyan and Fontbonne are both in the bottom half of the conference, but a pair of wins would keep them where they want to be before tougher showdowns roll around this month.
On Saturday, the Red Devils outscored MacMurray by 19 points in the second half en route to an 82-61 victory at home. They shot 48.7 percent and outrebounded the Highlanders 32-19 in the second half.
Ian Milsteadt racked up 21 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, and finished the day 10-for-15 from the field with four 3-pointers, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals.
Dakota Bennington contributed 23 points and a team-high nine rebounds while shooting 10-for-21 from the floor and 3-for-6 from beyond the arc, while Jordan Dehm added 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists in 24 solid minutes off the bench in his first game since Dec. 7.
Bennington leads the SLIAC in scoring with 24.3 points per game and 267 overall. He's also second in the league in free throws made (46 of 62) and steals (31).
Juergens is the team's second-leading scorer at 16.5 points per game. Dehm and Milsteadt contribute 13.8 and 13.1, respectively.
The Red Devils remain the SLIAC's leaders in rebounds per game (44.5) and free-throw percentage (72). They're also second in points per game (88.1), field goals made (371 of 811), blocks (4.5) and, crucially, points allowed (80.4)
ABOUT IOWA WESLEYAN
The Tigers are currently sitting sixth in the SLIAC with a 1-3 record in the conference and a 4-7 record overall.
Their lone league win came in a 92-85 triumph over Principia in their league opener. Since then, the Tigers have fallen to Westminster, Spalding and, most recently, Blackburn.
Despite a season-high 36 points and a school-record 11 3-pointers from sophomore Alex Denlinger, Iowa Wesleyan couldn't make up for an 18-point half-time deficit and ultimately fell 97-86.
Dentlinger is second in the SLIAC in 3-pointers made with 35 in 84 tries. Jarryd Fernandes leads the league in field goal percentage at 63.6 percent and is third rebounds per game with 8 per night.
Jett Tjaden is third in 3-point percentage (48 percent), and two Tigers are in the top five in the league in assists: Austin Banks is tied for second with 41 and Alberto Torres-Municio is fifth with 36.
The Red Devils hold a 26-14 lead over the Tigers in the all-time series.
Heading into this week's game, Fontbonne is the only team is that is one rung of the ladder under the SLIAC's top pack of five.
The Griffins are 2-2 in league play and 4-7 overall after opening the conference season with a 94-76 win over MacMurray, falling to Blackburn by three in overtime, outgunning Greenville (142-129) and getting bested by Webster (78-65).
As with the other teams in the conference, EC coach Chip Wilde suspects that the Griffins are better than their records says they are due to a tough non-conference slate. They will open the week at Spalding on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Fontbonne is currently second in the SLIAC in both rebounds (44.5) and assists (18.9), and is in the top four in the league in points (80.9), field goals (346 of 757), field-goal percentage (45.7) and free throws made (140 of 220).
The Griffins have three players who average double figures: Anthony Jones (12.4), Jalen Wadlington (12.1) and Jared Woodcock (10.5). Sophomore guard Caden Clark leads the SLIAC in assists with 51 on the season and contributes 9.3 points per game.
Against Webster, Jones recorded a team-high 16 points while coming off the bench. The Gorloks held the rest of the team to single digits.
EC is 15-13 against the Griffins all-time.