Preview: League Powers Collide Wednesday in SLIAC Opener

Photo courtesy of Bob Hunt.
Photo courtesy of Bob Hunt.

EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College women's basketball team will waste no time jumping into one of the more challenging portions of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference schedule when preseason league favorite Greenville visits Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena Wednesday for the conference opener in a 6 p.m. tip-off against the Red Devils.

PDF Version of Eureka Women's Basketball Game Notes

ABOUT EUREKA
Eureka owns a 2-2 record through its first four outings and will try to return to the win column after an 82-73 non-conference setback to Millikin on Monday at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
 
Four Red Devils average at least 10.0 points per game -- Hayley Reneau (24.8), Ashley Harfst (12.3), Kennedy Dura (11.8) and Sabrina Clay (10.0) -- allowing the Red Devils to put up a team scoring average of 81.5. Kerrigan Dura is the Red Devils' top rebounder at 10.0 boards per contest and Lexi Dooley follows with 7.8 per game. Both Duras average 7.5 assists per game.
 
Eight letterwinners return from Eureka's 20-win team that swept the the SLIAC regular season and tournament championships and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Seven of the returnees played in at least 27 games and four started at least 14 contests. 
 
MILLIKIN PULLS AWAY FROM EUREKA MONDAY
Millikin's Lauren Moses broke a 71-71 tie on a layup with 3:56 left in the fourth quarter, igniting a run of five consecutive MU points and paving the way for the visitors' 82-73 non-conference victory over Eureka on Monday night at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
 
The Red Devils trailed 38-31 at halftime but finally pulled even, 47-47, after a jumper from Ashley Harfst with 4:17 remaining in the third quarter. The hosts pushed in front less than two minutes later, 50-49, on a 3-point play by Kennedy Dura. The score was tied 55-55 at the end of the period.
 
Sabrina Clay's layup ultimately allowed the Red Devils to move in front, 69-68, with 4:57 left. The Big Blue and Red Devils traded baskets over the next two possessions and Dura's layup forced a 71-71 tie at the 4:21 mark of the final period.
 
Moses answered with her go-ahead layup and the visitors wouldn't trail again. EC had four chances to tie or take the lead over the next two-plus minutes, but turnovers and a missed 3-pointer allowed Yanni Saddler to extend Millikin's lead to 76-71 on a 3-pointer with 1:46 left. MU went on to make six consecutive free throws in the final 26 seconds to keep the Red Devils out of striking distance.
 
Reneau led the Red Devils with 18 points and five steals. Dura added 13 points and Kerrigan Dura led EC with nine rebounds. The two squads finished the game with 37 rebounds apiece, but the Red Devils outscored the Big Blue in the paint, 42-26.
 
EUREKA IN SLIAC OPENERS
Wednesday's game represents the beginning of the Red Devils' 12th season as a member of the SLIAC. Eureka, which owns a 7-4 record in 11 previous league openers and has began the conference schedule 1-0 in six of the last seven seasons, will be taking the floor in its 185th SLIAC regular-season game on Wednesday.
 
Eureka is opening the conference slate at home for the sixth time in the last eight seasons. The Red Devils have won five times in a row dating back to November 2010 when playing its first conference game at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
 
ABOUT GREENVILLE
Greenville will try for its fourth straight victory Wednesday after opening the campaign with a 3-1 record. The Panthers have topped Illinois College, Lincoln Christian and Hannibal-LaGrange since falling to Millikin on opening night. Wednesday's game marks the Panthers' first road game against a Division III opponent this season.
 
Junior forward Wesley Woodard is the Panthers' leading scorer through four games, averaging 13.0 points on 56 percent shooting. Senior guard Maria Reinhard is next with 11.3 points and is shooting 65 percent from 3-point range, one of five Panthers to make at least one triple per game at a 44 percent clip or better. GU is shooting a blistering 51 percent (36-for-71) from 3-point range as a team and has made 13 field goals from long range in each of their last two victories.
 
Greenville was picked to win the SLIAC this season, returning three starters from last season's team that went 23-9 overall and 12-4 in conference action. The Panthers finished second in the league a year ago behind the Red Devils both in the regular season and the tournament.
 
THE SERIES VERSUS GREENVILLE
One of Eureka's most common opponents for the better part of four decades, Greenville will travel to the Reagan Athletic Complex for the 29th time since 1983 on Wednesday. The Red Devils own a 34-20 record against the Panthers in that time frame and a 20-8 mark at the Reagan.
 
Eureka and Greenville have met 23 times as SLIAC opponents since Eureka joined the conference in 2006. GU leads that series, 12-11.
 
Perhaps the most memorable victory in Eureka women's basketball history came last February in the Red Devils' 82-74 SLIAC Tournament championship victory over the Panthers. Kerrigan Dura scored a game-high 18 points and distributed five assists. Hayley Reneau tallied 16 points. Claire Schmitt led GU with 16 points
 
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
Amos Arbogast is in his first season as head coach of the Red Devils. He was selected as the 12th head coach in program history on July 6, 2017.
 
Arbogast had previously served the EC men's basketball program as an assistant coach for six seasons and played pivotal role as an assistant for a program that has proved to be an annual contender in the SLIAC. Arbogast helped guide the Red Devils to consecutive berths to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals in 2012 and 2013, including an appearance in the title game in 2013.
 
The 2017-18 season is Roy Mulholland's 19th as head coach at Greenville. The 1986 Greenville graduate is 250-230 overall. His teams have been to the SLIAC Tournament six times since the league adopted a four-team field in 2005 and his 2015-16 squad won the tournament championship.
 
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
Eureka will provide a live video broadcast and live statistics of Wednesday's game. Links to both services will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com and D3hoops.com.