Preview: Red Devils Seeking Fourth Straight Win

Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.

EUREKA  — Last weekend, the Eureka women delivered a big win for their home crowd.

The Red Devils are aiming to do it again on Saturday at 1 p.m. when they host Fontbonne in a St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference clash inside Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center.

ABOUT EUREKA

As they prepared for this weekend's game, the Red Devils had the satisfaction of knowing they were on the right side of .500 for the first time since November.

With an 11-10 record on the season and a 5-7 mark in the conference, the Red Devils come home riding a three-game win streak. They bested Blackburn last week, took down Webster last Saturday and overwhelmed Principia, 73-44, on Tuesday.

Freshman Olivia Falls, who is fifth in the SLIAC in field-goal percentage (53.1) reached career highs in both scoring (22) and rebounds (16) in the win over the Panthers. Junior Ashley Harfst posted a double-double, contributing 10 points and 10 rebounds, and senior Samantha Sarnes added 15 points.

Junior Kennedy Dura is the SLIAC's assists leader with 96 dishes on the season. Sarnes leads the team in scoring, pouring in 12.4 points per game. Harfst (11.7), Josie Morgan (10.7), and Falls (10.7) all average double figures as well, and Dura is right behind at 9.8.

Harfst and Falls lead the team in rebounds, pulling down 6.9 and 6.8 boards per contest, respectively.

The Red Devils are third in the SLIAC in free-throw percentage (69.2), and fourth in points (71.5), rebounds (43.4), assists (16), steals (10.1) and blocks (3.0) per game.

Eureka returns two starters and three letterwinners from last season's 18-win team, which 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 FONTBONNE

Fontbonne currently sits a game ahead of the Red Devils in the conference standings with a 6-7 record in the SLIAC and 10-12 record overall.

The fifth-place Griffins blew out Blackburn in a 73-38 rout on Wednesday, ending a two-game losing streak after falling to conference heavyweights Greenville and Westminster the week before.

The Griffins average 69.8 points per game —just 1.7 points less than the Red Devils. They're fourth in the league in field-goal percentage (40.4), and second in both free-throw percentage (71) and steals per game (13.1).

Leading scorer Rylee Stafford averages 14.5 points per game and has tallied the fourth-most total points in the conference (319).

Second-leading scorer Raven Venegas (12.4), is third in the SLIAC in field-goal percentage (56.9), and Paige Black leads the league in steals with 81.

RECENT HISTORY

Fontbonne ruled this series early on, but Eureka has had the firm upper hand for quite a while now. After dropping 13 of the first 14 meetings, Eureka has been on the winning end in 13 of the last 17, including four of the last six.

A month ago, however, the Griffins handled the Red Devils, 97-81, improving to 17-14 in the all-time series.

EC finished strong, coming within 10 in the fourth quarter after trailing by as many as 22 and outscoring the home team 29-27 in the final frame. But it was too little, too late. Morgan posted a career-high 26 points and hit 4 of 5 3s for the maroon and gold in the loss. Fontbonne's Stafford and Riley Guffey had 19 points apiece.

EC pulled off a sweep over Fontbonne last year. Dura delivered a double-double in the first conference clash, recorded 15 points and 10 assists as the Red Devils held off the Griffins, 77-68.

A month later, though, they blew them away in a 78-50 rout on Senior Day.

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.

Maureen Sias is in her fifth season at the helm for Fontbonne. In 2016-17, she guided the Griffins to the SLIAC Tournament for the first time since 2012.  Before she was the head coach, Sias was an assistant for five years, and she played for Fontbonne from 1999-2003.

She holds Fontbonne women's basketball records in career free-throw percentage (85 percent), most 3-pointers in a game (eight) and is second in free-throw percentage in a season (90.7 percent).

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.