Eureka Routs Fontbonne to Advance to SLIAC Final, 86-55

Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.
Courtesy of Michael Hammerstrand.

EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College junior guard Hayley Reneau (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./Illinois Central) delivered a game-high 19 points, one of five Red Devils to score in double figures, lifting EC to an 86-55 win over Fontbonne in the 2017 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals, Thursday night at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. The Red Devils will advance to host Greenville in Saturday's SLIAC title game at 1 p.m.

The Red Devils will play in the SLIAC Tournament championship game for the third time since 2012 on Saturday. Eureka, which won the regular-season SLIAC crown with a 14-2 record, is aiming for its first-ever bid to the NCAA Tournament. Eureka also has 19 wins in a season for the first time since 2011-12 and the sixth time in program history.

Eureka never trailed Thursday. A steal and a 3-pointer by Reneau in the first minute of the contest put the rout in motion. The EC advantage promptly ballooned to double digits when senior forward Michaela Balducci (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) scored inside for a 15-4 lead at the 4:29 mark of the quarter. EC led by as many as 13 in the frame when senior guard Luci Weis (Bloomington, Ill./Normal Community H.S.) buried a 3 just before the buzzer for a 22-9 lead.

Fontbonne never threatened the Red Devils' advantage in the final three quarters. The EC lead was 39-26 at halftime and 63-35 after 30 minutes. Three foul shots by sophomore guard Samantha Sarnes (Havana, Ill./Havana H.S.) with 4:02 left in the game gave the Red Devils their largest lead of the night, 77-44.

Reneau knocked down five 3-pointers Thursday, bumping her season total to 63 and moving into fourth place on Eureka's single-season list. She also added three steals to get to 72 on the season, eighth-most in a season in program history.

Balducci had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Kerrigan Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) recorded seven assists and now has 130 on the year, 18 shy of Deb Kessinger's single-season Eureka record of 148.

Weis came off the bench for 16 points. Freshman guard Kennedy Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) logged 11 points and seven assists and freshman guard Ashley Harfst (Saunemin, Ill./Pontiac H.S.) tacked on 10 points.

Thursday's 31-point margin of victory was Eureka's biggest in eight previous SLIAC Tournament games and the largest in any SLIAC Tournament semifinal since Westminster beat Webster 69-34 in 2012.

Eureka will play Greenville Saturday at 1 p.m. for the SLIAC Tournament championship. GC pulled away from Webster to win Thursday's other semifinal, 61-52. The Red Devils and Panthers split their regular-season home-and-home series.