EUREKA – The Eureka men's basketball team grinded out a 79-63 win over Spalding to improve to 7-3 on the season on Thursday night.
The Red Devils went back and forth with the Golden Eagles during a closely contested first half at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center and went into the break with a 35-32 lead.
In the second half, Eureka improved from 45 percent shooting to 53.1 and expanded its lead to as many 20 points. The win secured a season sweep over the Golden Eagles.
J'Len Crawford (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) scored a career-high 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the field in his second start of the season. The senior wing made 5 of 9 3-point attempts and had a pair of steals.
Ian Milsteadt (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) was an efficient 8-for-12 from the field and finished with 22 points. He knocked down three triples, grabbed six rebounds, had two assists and a steal.
Jordan Brooks (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph-Ogden) also had a strong night, posting a season-high 11 points and three assists on 5-for-8 shooting in nearly 22 minutes off the bench. The junior transfer from Lincoln Land Community College came up with several timely baskets when the game was tight.
Senior big man Jaedon Banks (Peoria Heights, Ill./Peoria Heights) pulled down 10 rebounds and contributed six points, three blocks and two steals.
Sophomore Conner Zuber (Olney, Ill./Richland County) scored the first four points of his career in the last two minutes of the game.
The Golden Eagles stayed with the Red Devils for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but a Crawford trey off an assist by Brooks opened an 11-0 run that tipped the game in the home team's favor for good. The Red Devils got it done with defense, executing in transition and timely buckets from distance.
After the 3, Crawford came up with a loose ball that Milsteadt took to the hole on the other end. The, on the next Spalding possession, Milsteadt made a steal and knocked down a triple to extend the lead to nine and prompt a Golden Eagles timeout with 9:29 left.
EC forced another Spalding turnover out of the timeout and Lane Thompson (Dwight, Ill./Dwight) quickly found Crawford for a cutting a layup. He finished through contact and made the foul shot to make it a 14-point game. With less than two minutes to play, Crawford's last 3 made it 75-55.
The victory was Eureka's fifth of their last six games. The Red Devils (7-3, 3-1) will next host Westminster (1-5, 1-5 SLIAC) on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.