EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College women's basketball team will play its only home game in a 20-day stretch Saturday when the Red Devils host Iowa Wesleyan in a 1 p.m. St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference matchup at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. Eureka will welcome former women's and men's players Saturday and host its annual basketball alumni celebration at halftime of the men's game against the Tigers.
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Eureka is 9-5 overall and 5-1 against league opponents for second place in the conference standings -- one game behind unbeaten league leader Greenville.
The Red Devils will look to maintain their momentum Saturday after winning seven of their last nine games since Dec. 2, including five consecutive SLIAC victories. The Red Devils are outscoring their opponents by an average of 14.4 points during the current league win streak and receive at least 16.0 points per game from three different players -- Hayley Reneau (23.0), Ashley Harfst (16.2) and Kennedy Dura (16.0). Additionally, EC has shot 45 percent from the floor and limited opponents to a 34 percent effort in the last five league contests.
Over the full season, Reneau leads the way offensively with 23.9 points per game. That average is on pace to challenge Sherry Bryan's 33-year-old single-season Eureka record of 23.3 points per game set during the 1985-86 season. Reneau's current pace is also likely to produce the fifth 500-point season in program history and make a run at Caty Eeten's 2011-12 single-season scoring record of 594 points.
The Red Devils remain fourth nationally both in total assists (280) and assists per game (20.0). Wednesday's 90-point performance at Westminster increased the team's scoring average to 80.2, 10th-most in Division III.
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.
DURA'S TRIPLE-DOUBLE LIFTS EUREKA AT WESTMINSTER
Kerrigan Dura went for 11 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists to secure her second collegiate triple-double and send the visiting Red Devils to 90-84 SLIAC victory in overtime at Westminster last Wednesday night in Fulton, Mo.
Dura now owns both triple-doubles on record in the 43-season history of Eureka women's basketball after registering 11 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in the season opener at Knox on Nov. 15, 2017.
Eureka outscored WC 15-9 in the overtime period to secure its fifth straight SLIAC win. The Red Devils trailed for just 13 seconds in the extra period, forcing a 77-77 tie on a Lexi Dooley layup and taking the lead for good when Hayley Reneau split two foul shots for a 78-77 edge with 3:13 to go. Westminster didn't have possession with a chance to tie over the last 2:27 and the final six-point margin was Eureka's widest of overtime.
All five Eureka starters scored in double figures, led by a career-high 26 points from Ashley Harfst thanks to 9-for-12 shooting. Reneau tacked on 18 and Kennedy Dura had 16. Dooley tallied 14 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double.
ABOUT IOWA WESLEYAN
Less than four years removed from winning the regular-season SLIAC crown, Iowa Wesleyan has slipped to 2-12 overall and 2-4 in league competition. IWU has lost three of its last four games, including a 56-54 loss to Fontbonne on Wednesday in Mount Pleasant.
Darby Massner leads the Tigers and ranks third in the league with 15.9 points per game. The junior guard, who also collects a team-high 6.7 rebounds per contest, hits at a 38 percent clip from long range and also shoots 78 percent at the charity stripe. Josie Zerrusen adds 12.2 points per game, followed by Allie Massner at 8.1 points per game.
As a team, IWU has struggled offensively. The Tigers score 55.1 points per game to rank eighth out of nine SLIAC teams. Iowa Wesleyan's average scoring margin is minus-18.5 and the Tigers have lost by 15 points or more eight times this season.
The Tigers are ineligible for the NCAA and SLIAC postseasons due to their provisional status as a member of Division III. Now in their fifth season, the Tigers are 57-19 all-time in SLIAC competition, but were picked seventh in a 2017-18 preseason coaches' poll
IWU joined the league in the summer of 2013 and promptly won the outright SLIAC championship during the 2013-14 campaign. The 2017-18 season is IWU's final provisional season as its completes its transition from NAIA to NCAA Division III.
THE SERIES AGAINST IOWA WESLEYAN
Eureka and Iowa Wesleyan renewed an old NAIA series dormant for more than two decades when IWU joined the SLIAC prior to the 2013-14 season. EC has won 11 of 17 meetings with the Tigers since 1983 and seven of 10 bouts at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
The Tigers are 5-3 against EC as league rivals, but Eureka swept last season's series for the first time to end a streak of five consecutive IWU victories. The Red Devils won the previous meeting on Dave Darnall Court, a 74-66 in the 2016-17 regular-season finale in which Kerrigan Dura scored 15 points and dished seven assists.
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.
Jack Bruns was named the 11th head coach in Iowa Wesleyan women's basketball history in April 2017. The Sioux City, Iowa native previously served the IWU men's team as an assistant
Bruns is a 2011 graduate of Central in Pella, Iowa. He scored 700 points in three seasons for the Dutch, averaging 9.0 points and 4.8 rebounds in 78 career appearances.
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
Eureka will provide a live video broadcast and live statistics of Saturday's game. Links to both services will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, sliac.org and D3hoops.com.