ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- The Eureka College women's basketball team seized sole possession of first place in the early St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings on Saturday, earning its third consecutive league win on the road in a 75-66 triumph at Webster in St. Louis, Mo.
The victory improved the Red Devils to 3-0 in the SLIAC, matching their best start to the round-robin league schedule since joining the SLIAC prior to the 2006-07 season. EC is the only remaining unbeaten team in SLIAC play.
A 9-1 run from the visitors midway through the first quarter helped the Red Devils grab an early 13-6 lead. Eureka would hold the lead for the remainder of the first quarter, but WU recovered to regain the advantage when Kelsey Miller's 3-pointer pushed the Gorloks to a 23-21 lead. It would be Webster's largest advantage of the day.
The Red Devils punched back with five consecutive points and wouldn't trail again. Senior forward Michaela Balducci (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) gave the visitors their largest advantage of the first 20 minutes with a basket for a 41-33 lead in the final minute before halftime. The Red Devils led at the break, 41-35.
Webster pulled within two points (41-39) just 65 seconds into the third quarter, but Eureka responded with eight unanswered points, highlighted by back-to-back 3-pointers from junior guard Hayley Reneau (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./Illinois Central), to secure a double-digit cushion. EC led 56-51 after three quarters.
WU slowly chipped away at its deficit early in the fourth, clawing to within 61-59 with 6:55 to play, but the visitors eventually extended their lead back to 10 (70-60) on a free throw from junior guard Kerrigan Dura (Brimfield, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) with 2:08 left. WU wouldn't be able to get closer than six points the rest of the way.
Five Red Devils scored at least 10 points, led by 16 apiece from Dura and sophomore forward Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.). Dooley added a game-high 11 rebounds for the afternoon's only double-double. Dura scored 10 of her 16 points from the foul line and narrowly missed a career-high with eight assists.
Eureka dominated the Gorloks on the glass for a 44-25 rebounding advantage. The game featured 12 lead changes, all in the first half.
Miller paced the Gorloks with 14 points. WU suffered its first league loss, fell to Eureka in St. Louis for the first time since Jan. 26, 2013 and saw its four-game win streak come to an end.
Eureka will have less than 48 hours to prepare for its final game of an eight-game stretch of road contests. The Red Devils will visit North Park Monday at 2 p.m. in Chicago, Ill.