Red Devils Knock off SLIAC Leader Webster, 85-79

Photo courtesy of Tim Wright.
Photo courtesy of Tim Wright.

EUREKA — The Eureka men's basketball team played up to its potential and knocked off Webster for the third straight time on Saturday, 85-79.

The win over the top team in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference moved the Red Devils to 5-3 in the SLIAC and 10-5 on the season. They're now tied for third with Fontbonne and Westminster.

It also put EC back in the winning column after two back-to-back tough losses to Fontbonne and Spalding, respectively.

"I think it was just getting back to who we were," said senior Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora). "Against Spalding, I think we played the way they wanted to play. I think we just got back to playing Eureka basketball. Just trusting each other, trusting our teammates, playing through each other.

Dehm dropped a game-high 31 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the field and 12-of-14 shooting from the free-throw line.

He and Jaedon Banks (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Heights) each gathered a team-high eight rebounds, and Dehm distributed a game-high six assists.

Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) notched 18 on 7-of-15 shooting, pulled down five rebounds and registered three assists.

Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) followed with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, and Chris Daniels (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) added nine in 13 quality minutes off the bench.

Ten Red Devils saw playing time and nearly all of them came up with a big moment in the Red Devils' best win of conference play this season.

"It was much needed," said Bennington, who leads the SLIAC in scoring. That was a good one to show us how to play, play as a team, and just kind of get our confidence back."

EC shot a season-best 52.7 percent from the floor, going 29-for-55 and sinking 80 percent (21 of 26) of their foul shots.

The Red Devils nearly led the whole way, but with Webster's skill and physicality in the half-court and hard-nosed playing style, the Gorloks were never far behind.

Juergens drilled a 3 and Kyler Stork (Normal, Ill./Normal West) finished his own putback in the final minute to give EC a six-point advantage at half.

Dehm scored 14 of the Red Devils' first 17 points in the second half, then a Bennington jumper with 12:42 left gave EC its first double-digit lead.

Less than a minute later, an alley-oop dunk by Bennington on a pass by Ian Milsteadt (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) made Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation erupt. And soon after, Daniels went on a run of his own.

First, he canned a 3 with 10:10 left to make it 65-55.

A traditional 3-point play by Webster's Ethan Hughes brought it within seven, but Daniels answered with a high-arching swish off a jumper. After a triple by Enrique Tankins, Daniels scored after an offensive rebound to give EC an eight-point lead with 8:12 left.

A Tankins 3 and a layup by Etienne Rodson trimmed the lead to 3 and paved the way for a tense final seven minutes of play.

Josh Johnson's 3-pointer with just under five minutes left made it a one-point game, and with 4:14 remaining, Wynne Brown Jr nailed a jumper that gave the Gorloks their only lead of the day.

It didn't last long. Dehm assisted Bennington on the other end, then hit a Bennington jumper off another feed by Dehm on the next possession with 3:08 left.

Juergens delivered one of the biggest baskets with 1:45 left, dribbling into the lane and pulling up to put the Red Devils up five.

The Gorloks didn't hit another field goal after that. Meanwhile, Kyle Henderson (Henry, Ill./Henry-Sanchawine) and Dehm took care of business at the line, making 6 of 6 foul shots in final 30 seconds to seal the win over their familiar foes.

Etienne notched a game-high 24 points for the Gorloks. Johnson added 16, and Brown, Tankins and Hughes followed with 10, 9 and 8, respectively.

"There's a little bit of a rivalry there," Bennington said of Webster. "Last year, beating them twice, and beating them in championship game ...we know that we're going to get their best game and we're going to get our best game. It's a fun one to play, especially when we win."