Balducci’s Late Triple Sinks Spalding, 66-63

Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.
Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.

EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College senior forward Michaela Balducci (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) broke a 63-63 tie with a 3-pointer with :01.2 seconds left, lifting the Red Devils to 66-63 victory over Spalding, Thursday night at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The win improved the first-place Red Devils to 13-5 overall and 9-0 in the SLIAC.

Watch Balducci's game-winning basket.

After a Spalding turnover with 17 seconds left and the score tied at 63-63, Eureka took advantage of its chance to shoot for the win when Balducci connected from the right wing with :01.2 seconds left. Spalding was forced to go the length of the floor on the ensuing play in its effort to tie the game, but the inbound pass was deflected out of bounds by the visitors, securing the EC win.

Eureka controlled a large portion of Thursday's game, doubling up the Golden Eagles 20-10 after one quarter. The advantage swelled to 35-19 at halftime, and the 16-point lead was Eureka's biggest of the first 20 minutes.

The Red Devils maintained their double-digit lead through the third period before the visitors quickly closed the gap in the fourth. Maya Hardin's free throws with 5:26 left triggered a 12-2 run that culminated with a 61-61 tie with 1:34 to go. Balducci's layup pushed the Red Devils back in front, 63-61, but Lelanda Matthews answered with 1:02 left for a 63-63 tie.

Balducci scored 16 to pace the hosts. She made both 3-pointers she attempted. Junior guard Kerrigan Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) and sophomore forward Lexi Dooley (Sutter, Ill./Warsaw H.S.) scored nine apiece. Freshman guard Kennedy Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) logged nine assists.

Alex Martin scored 27 points for Spalding on 8-for-15 shooting.

The victory improved Eureka to 9-0 in the league. The Red Devils' nine-game league win streak is one win shy of Eureka's longest SLIAC win streak since joining the league set during the 2011-12 campaign.

Eureka will return to action next Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Webster at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.