Posted: Dec 17, 2018
EUREKA -- Following a three-week stretch of early-season St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference games, Eureka will return to the non-conference slate Tuesday when the Red Devils travel to Decatur, Ill. for a 6 p.m. tip-off at in-state rival Millikin at the Griswold Center.
The Red Devils are seeking their first-ever women's basketball victory over the Big Blue, winless in 12 previous meetings in the series that dates back to January 1977. MU won last season's meeting at the Reagan Athletic Complex, 82-73 on Nov. 27, 2017.
Eureka is 3-5 overall with nearly a third of the schedule complete. The Red Devils snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday and earned their first league victory in a 71-62 triumph at Blackburn.
Balance has been the key to the Red Devils' early-season offensive attack -- five different players have led the team in scoring in a game and five different players average at least 7.9 points per game. Three of those players -- Samantha Sarnes (11.9), Ashley Harfst (11.6) and Kennedy Dura (11.4) -- score in double figures on average. Dura has been especially effective, connecting on 46 percent from 3-point range. On Saturday, she became the eighth player in program history to reach 300 career assists.
Eureka averages 70.0 points per game, fourth-most among SLIAC teams. The Red Devils combine to shoot 37 percent from the floor as a team and 33 percent from 3-point rnage. EC leads the SLIAC with 15.3 free throw makes per game, 22.5 free throw attempts per game, and ranks third in the league with a team free throw percentage of 68 percent.
Eureka returns two starters and three letterwinners from last season's 18-win team that went to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals for the seventh consecutive season. The Red Devils were picked fifth in a preseason SLIAC poll conducted by league head coaches.
THIRD-QUARTER BURST LIFTS RED DEVILS OVER BLACKBURN ON SATURDAY
Kennedy Dura scored a game-high 21 points and added a career-high nine steals at the defensive end to drive Eureka to a 71-62 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference triumph over Blackburn, Saturday afternoon in Dawes Gymnasium in Carlinville, Ill. The Red Devils used a 17-0 run in the third quarter to break the contest open.
Dura's effort marked the eighth time in program history a Red Devil logged at least nine steals in a game and the first time since Caty Eeten had nine thefts at Lincoln Christian on Feb. 9, 2011. Josie Morgan added five steals Saturday to aid the Red Devils' 17-steal effort as a team.
Samantha Sarnes scored 19 points thanks to a 7-for-10 effort at the foul line. Morgan scored 15 points and Sierrah Seals led all players with a career-high 10 rebounds.
Millikin has lost eight of its first 10 games, but earned an 82-79 non-conference win against Illinois College on Nov. 25 and a 73-69 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin victory at North Central on Dec. 1. The Big Blue has dropped three consecutive CCIW decisions since, including a 75-72 setback at home against Augustana last Saturday.
Senior Yanni Sadler has started all 10 games and leads MU in scoring with 17.0 points per game. She also leads the team with 22 steals. Freshman Aubrey Staton follows with a scoring average of 16.0. Sophomore Jordan Hildebrand is the team's leading rebounder with 7.8 per game.
Tuesday's game is Millikin's third against a SLIAC opponent in 2018-19. The Big Blue lost games to Greenville, 93-86, and Westminster, 68-51 on a neutral floor in Jacksonville, Ill. on Nov. 16-17.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Eureka and Millikin will meet for the 13th time in women's basketball on Tuesday. The Big Blue has won all 12 previous matchups, including victories in each of the previous five seasons and wins in Decatur in 2014 and 2016.
The two schools met in seven consecutive seasons from 1977 through 1983, then went on a three-decade hiatus before resuming the series in November 2013.
Last season, MU's Lauren Moses broke a 71-71 tie with the Red Devils 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 on Nov. 27, 2017. Kennedy Dura scored 13 points and distributed six assists for EC.
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
Amos Arbogast is in his second season directing the Red Devils. The 2006 Iowa graduate directed Eureka to 18 wins last season, the most victories by a first-year EC head coach since Hall of Famer Sandy Schuster piloted EC to a 19-7 mark in 1991-92.
Arbogast, who served the Eureka men's basketball program as an assistant for six seasons prior to his appointment, welcomed nine newcomers to the program for the 2018-19 campaign.
A new women's basketball coaching era arrived at Millikin last offseason with the hiring of Olivia Lett. The 2012 Illinois Wesleyan graduate is just the third head coach in program history after succeeding longtime head coach Lori Kerans last March.
Lett was an All-American at IWU and the D3hoops.com National Player of the Year after leading the Titans to a national championship as a senior in 2012. She also owned experience as an assistant coach at IWU (2013-16) and Chicago (2016-18).
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
Millikin will provide a live online video broadcast, a live stream of a local radio broadcast and live statistics of Tuesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.
WEDNESDAY VERSUS ANDERSON AT THE REAGAN
Eureka will have less than 24 hours to prepare for its next non-league action, a 2 p.m. start Wednesday against Anderson at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.
The Ravens are 5-5 overall through their first 10 games, including a 1-3 mark in Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference action. The Ravens lost at home to Monmouth on Nov. 18, 79-58.
Anderson University has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 1,600 and is located in Anderson, Ind., approximately 45 miles northeast of Indianapolis. The Red Devils and Ravens will be meeting for the first time since a 78-66 Eureka victory in Anderson during the 1984-85 season.