Preview: Well-rounded Webster Poses Challenge for Red Devils

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

EUREKA — On Saturday, the Eureka women will look to snag their second conference win in three days.

The Red Devils host Webster in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action at 1 p.m. inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.

ABOUT EUREKA  

January was an up-and-down month for the Red Devils. They went 5-4, opening and closing the month by losing two of three and winning three in a row in between.

Thursday's 79-65 win over Blackburn moved EC to 9-10 on the season and 4-7 in the SLIAC. Saturday's contest against Webster is a rematch of the Red Devils' first game of 2019 — and a chance to see the gains they've made since then.

On Thursday, the Red Devils used a hot start to build a 23-point lead in the first half and were able to contain Blackburn's comeback push in the second.

Samantha Sarnes paced the Red Devils for the second straight game, posting 18 points on 8-of-13 shooting after a 29-point effort against Westminster last Saturday. The senior averages a team-high 12.7 points per game on 41 percent shooting, and is one of four Red Devils who registers double figures.

Junior Kennedy Dura, who notched 16 points, six assists and five steals in the win, leads the SLIAC with 93 assists and is 42nd in the nation with 4.8 per game. She's also fifth in the SLIAC in steals (46).

Another junior, Ashley Harfst, leads the Red Devils in rebounds, racking up 6.6 per game, along with 11.4 points per game. Josie Morgan is right behind her with 11 points per game and Dura is next at 10.1.

Freshman Olivia Falls, who posted a career-high 17 points on Thursday, contributes 9.9 points per game and 6.6 boards.

The Red Devils are the fourth-highest scoring team in the SLIAC, putting up 71.1 points per game. They're fourth in the conference in 3-point shooting (30.7 percent), free-throw shooting (67.7 percent), assists (15.8), steals (10.2) and blocks (2.9).

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.

ABOUT WEBSTER

Webster is currently sitting inside the top four with a 9-3 record in the SLIAC and a 15-5 mark overall.

The Gorloks have dropped two games to third-place Spalding and lost once to conference leader Greenville. But they also edged second-place Westminster the first time around, and have bested everyone else in the SLIAC with ease.

On Saturday, they're looking to bounce back from an 81-79 overtime loss to Spalding on Wednesday, which snapped a four-game winning streak.

Webster is one of the most well rounded teams in the SLIAC. The Gorloks lead the SLIAC in rebounding (44.5 per game), assists (18.2) and steals (17.1). They also force the most turnovers in the league, with opponents racking up 26.5 per game — the sixth-best rate in the nation.

They're second to Westminster in the SLIAC and 20th in the nation in points per game (76.6) while shooting 43.5 percent from the field.

Addison Beussink is the leading scorer with 12.9 points per game and is fifth in the SLIAC in rebounds per game (8.9).

Jaysea Morgan adds 10.4 points per game and is fourth in the SLIAC in assists (93). Naomi Johnson contributes 10.2 per game and Hannah Cottrell snags 3.1 steals per game.

RECENT HISTORY

Webster leads the all-time series with the Red Devils, 18-14. The two schools first met during the 1989-90 season, an 80-29 Eureka victory in St. Louis.

Last season, the Gorloks took two out of three from the Red Devils, including the rubber match in the SLIAC Tournament semifinals. Harfst was named to the All-Tournament Team after scoring 20 points.

On January 2, Webster pulled away from Eureka with a 33-point fourth-quarter explosion en route to a 79-62 victory.

EC's Josie Morgan was 3-for-5 from 3-point range and a perfect 5-for-5 at the free throw line in a 20-point performance. Falls and Sarnes added 10 points apiece and  Harfst finished with six steals.

Webster's Jaysea Morgan led the Gorloks with 18 points.

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.

Jefferson City, Mo. native Jordan Olufson is in his 11th season as the head coach at Webster. Olufson guided the Gorloks to SLIAC Tournament titles and a berths in the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2018. His 11-year record at WU is 158-115 and he is the program's all-time winningest coach.

Olufson came to Webster after a stint as an assistant coach at Central Missouri.  He played collegiately for Missouri Valley and Ashford before earning an undergraduate degree in sports and recreation management from AU in 2006 and a master's degree from Central Missouri.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Eureka will provide a live online video broadcast of Wednesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com. Amos Arbogast is in his second season directing the Red Devils.