Red Devils Rout Westminster to Secure SLIAC Spot, 75-47

Courtesy of Bob Hunt.
Courtesy of Bob Hunt.

FULTON, Mo. -- Eureka College junior guard Hayley Reneau (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./Illinois Central) scored 22 points and seniors Michaela Balducci (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) and Luci Weis (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community H.S.) tacked on 15 apiece, helping the Red Devils clinch a berth in the 2017 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament with a 75-47 league win at Westminster, Monday afternoon in Fulton, Mo.

The tournament bid is Eureka's sixth in a row dating back to the 2011-12 season. The Red Devils are 2-5 in their previous five trips to the tournament, making appearances in the championship game in 2012 and again in 2015.

Eureka needs one more victory or one more Greenville defeat to clinch at least a share of the SLIAC regular-season title. Any combination of two Eureka victories or two Greenville defeats will give the Red Devils the outright league championship and the right to host the SLIAC Tournament. Eureka College has never won a regular-season conference title in a women's sport as a member of an NCAA Division III conference.

Additionally, Eureka defeated Westminster in Fulton for just the second time in 15 tries since Jan. 10, 2000. The 28-point margin of victory was Eureka's largest in 28 all-time meetings with Westminster.

The Red Devils allowed the first two baskets of the game before Balducci triggered a 16-5 surge from the visitors that culminated with a Weis 3-pointer and a 22-11 lead with 2:07 left in the period. The Blue Jays bounced back to trail 25-17 after 10 minutes, but Balducci scored just 24 seconds into the second period and Eureka's lead remained nine points or more for the remainder of the half.

Eureka broke the game open in the third quarter, pushing its lead to 20 when Reneau scored for a 50-30 lead at the 4:08 mark. WC had one final push, scoring 10 of the next 11 points to trim its deficit to 51-40, but Reneau and Balducci scored in the final 28 seconds of the quarter to give EC a 55-40 lead.

The Red Devils extended their lead throughout the fourth quarter and the final 28-point margin was Eureka's largest lead of the afternoon.

Reneau scored 22 points on 8-for-15 shooting. She made four 3-pointers. Eureka shot 53 percent for the game and matched a season-low by committing only 11 turnovers. The Red Devils also crushed the Blue Jays inside, outscoring WC in the paint, 35-14.

The hosts shot just 26 percent (14-for-55) and made only one of their 22 3-point field goal attempts.

Eureka will return home Wednesday to try to win at least a share of the conference title when MacMurray visits for a 6 p.m. tip-off at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The Red Devils defeated the Highlanders in Jacksonville last month, 83-42.