Fontbonne Edges Eureka in Overtime Thriller, 114-110

File photo.
File photo.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The Eureka men's basketball team dropped a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference heartbreaker on Saturday, falling to Fontbonne 114-110 in overtime on the Griffins' home floor.

The Red Devils and the Griffins went back and forth all afternoon, finishing the game with 11 lead changes and 11 ties.

The visitors led by as many as 10 relatively early in the second half. The Red Devils were in position to close it out down stretch, leading by nine with 3:26 left, but Fontbonne rallied back and closed regulation on a 17-8 run, with Anthony Jones' half-court buzzer beater tying the game at 100-100 and sending it to overtime.

In OT, the Griffins fed off the momentum of the exhilarating final sequence and outscored the maroon and gold 14-10 to secure a hard-fought conference win.

As a result, the Red Devils are now 9-4 and 4-2 in SLIAC play, while the Griffins improved to 6-7 and 4-2. Both teams are locked in a four-team tie with Westminster and Blackburn for second place in the league behind Webster (6-7, 5-1 SLIAC).

For the second straight game, EC's Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) led the Red Devils in scoring with a career-high 34 points on 12-for-20 shooting. The 6-foot-6 senior made 4 of 8 3-point attempts and went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line while pulling down a game-high 11 rebounds.

Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) shot 10-for-15 from the field and finished with 24 points, six rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) followed with 22 points and seven rebounds, and Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) added 13 and four.

Chris Daniels (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) played 24 big minutes off the bench, providing nine points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.

Jones, who swished the half-court heave before time expired, racked up a career-high 42 points while shooting 15-for-22 from the field and making five of the team's 11 3-pointers.

Noah Coddington, Domonic Doolin and Cody McKinney all contributed 12 points, and Elijah Rice chipped in 10.

All told, it couldn't have been much more evenly matched.

The Red Devils and Griffins shot nearly an identical percentage from the floor, with EC going 41-for-79 (51.9 percent) and Fontbonne going 43-for-83 (51.8 percent). The teams scored the same amount of points off turnovers (28) and the same number of points in the paint (48).

Eureka won the rebounding battle (42-34), but Fontbonne notched more assists (24-17) and committed fewer turnovers (19-24).

The game was tied at 43-43 at halftime after Dehm and Jones exchanged triples in the final 25 seconds.

In the first four minutes of the second half, however, Fontbonne amassed a 10-point lead in less than four minutes. Eureka erased it quickly.

Hosea made a layup and put away an and-one on the next possession. And, after conceding a jumper by Doolin, Bennington knocked down a jumper and made two-free throws to cut the lead in half. The run continued with a second 3-point play by Hosea. Then, yet another layup off an assist by Daniels, made it 61-61 with 13:45 left in the game.

Each team traded punches and took turns possessing the momentum for the next 12 minutes, until the next EC surge.

With the score knotted at 81, a pair of free throws by Juergens gave EC a two-point edge. Jones answered with a pair from the line as well, then EC responded with three straight 3-pointers.

Dehm drilled two before assisting Juergens on a third that made it 92-83 with 3:26 left.

From there, a string of big buckets by the Griffins, untimely fouls and missed free throws gave Fontbonne a chance to tie with three seconds remaining. Jones posted 10 of the Griffins' 14 points in overtime, while Bennington contributed eight of the Red Devils' 10.

On Thursday, Eureka (9-4, 4-2 SLIAC) will host Spalding (2-11, 2-4 SLIAC) at Christine Bonati Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center on 7:30 p.m.