EUREKA – Eureka put together a dominant second quarter and ultimately erased a 17-point deficit in the final period, but visiting Westminster maintained its perfect league record in a 72-67 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over the Red Devils, Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
Samantha Sarnes (Havana, Ill./Havana H.S.) scored 20 points to lead the Red Devils. Ashley Harfst (Saunemin, Ill./Pontiac H.S.) followed with 16 points and a team-best nine rebounds and Josie Morgan (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) tallied 13 points and five assists.
The hosts trailed 23-10 after 10 minutes but quickly closed the gap in the second quarter. Olivia Falls (Bloomington, Ill./Blomington H.S.) buried two foul shots with 3:46 left before halftime to ignite a 9-0 EC run to close the half. Sarnes and Harfst also scored for the Red Devils during the burst before Kennedy Dura (Edwards, Ill./Brimfield H.S.) inched Eureka within 31-29 with a basket in the closing seconds. EC held the Blue Jays scoreless over the final 3:52 of the half.
WC led by as many as six points in the third quarter and held on to a 51-46 advantage at the end of the frame. The lead swelled to seven before Eureka ripped off eight consecutive points to take its first lead, 55-54, on Morgan's free throw with 6:10 remaining in the game.
The two teams traded the lead five more times. Harfst buried a triple for a 65-64 lead with 1:21 left, but WC's Rei Imamura answered with a 3-pointer on the Blue Jays' ensuing trip for a 67-65 advantage. The Red Devils later had possession down 70-67 in the closing seconds, but a 3-point try from the right wing didn't connect and Imamura put down two free throws to put the game away.
Eureka will visit Blackburn next Saturday at 1 p.m. in Carlinville, Ill.