Notebook: Red Devils to Open 2019-20 Season on the Road at Rockford

Notebook: Red Devils to Open 2019-20 Season on the Road at Rockford
THE OPENING TIP-OFF
 
After a long offseason, the Red Devils are back.
 
The Eureka women's basketball team will begin its 2019-20 season on the road in a non-conference battle against Rockford at 5 p.m. It's the first of 25 tests that will measure what this team is capable of achieving.
 
And it will be the 32nd time these have ever shared a court.
 
 
ABOUT EUREKA
 
This season, the Red Devils are gunning for their fourth straight winning season — and more. 
 
They're coming off a 14-11 season and an 8-8 run in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference that featured its share of ups and downs. A good portion of the ups came toward the end of the season. Second-year coach Amos Arbogast's team won five of its last six games of the season in February and went 10-5 after New Year's Day.
 
The Red Devils bring back five returners from that squad, including a pair of accomplished four-year seniors in Kennedy Dura and Ashley Harfst
 
Dura, a Brimfield product, is currently third in assists in program history with (375), and is only 40 away from tying the record. She is also ninth in program history in career 3-pointers (84), 3-point attempts (282) and blocked shots (59). Last year, she led the SLIAC with 110 assists. 
 
Harfst, who hails from Saunemin, Illinois, knocked down the most free throws in the league (69), and finished second in field-goal percentage at 84.2. She was the team's second-leading scorer at 12.1 per night, and is currently sitting ninth in program history in career free throws at 242. In addition, she's the team's active leader in career points (788) amd rebounds (427). 
 
Sophomore Olivia Falls returns after a promising freshman campaign in which she finished fifth in the league in field-goal percentage (54), contributed 10.8 points per game and pulled down 6.9 rebounds.
 
Fifth-year senior Ja'Keesha Hawkins will look to join the starting lineup after being a valuable reserve in her first season as a Red Devil, while sophomores Marissa Murphy and Abby Swope return to the supporting cast. 
 
Whitney Bozarth, a notable Normal West product, and Jadyn Mitchell, a former star at Flanagan-Cornel, are expected to make a big impact as freshmen.
 
ABOUT ROCKFORD
 
The Regents are coming off a tough 2-23 season that featured a 2-18 mark in Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference play. However, they're under new leadership this season, as first-year coach Taylor Stinson has taken over. 
 
Like EC coach Amos Arbogast at Eureka, he was previously an assistant coach in the men's program. His first team on the women's side features seven returners, three of whom saw big minutes last season. 
 
Senior Linzy Keller started all 25 games last season and finished the season tied for the highest scoring average at 11.8 points per game. Another senior, Katlyn Fiorucci, also started every game last season while leading the team with 2.7 assists per game, and fellow senior Emily Cox boasted the team highest 3-point percentage at 28.8.
 
Neve Yerk missed most of last season due to injury, but she had a solid debut season with the Regents, leading the team with .7 blocks per game and finishing second with 4.5 boards.
 
The Regents were voted to finish 12th out of 13 teams in the NACC.
 
RED DEVILS SELECTED TIED FOR FIFTH IN SLIAC PRESEASON POLL

Eureka was selected to finish tied for fifth in the 2019-20 preseason St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference preseason poll.

The poll, which was conducted by league women's basketball coaches, featured Spalding in the top spot with 70 overall votes, including two of the nine first-place votes.

Greenville followed with 64 overall votes and three first-place votes, and Wester finished third with a poll-high four first-place votes. Westminster was fourth with 52 votes, followed by Eureka and Fontbonne with 41. 

LAST TIME AROUND

Last November, Eureka earned its second non-conference victory of the 2018-19 season Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center in an 82-53 rout.

Eureka's 82 points scored marked its largest offensive output versus a non-conference Division III opponent since a 96-56 win at Wooster on Dec. 21, 2017. The final 29-point margin also represented the Red Devils' biggest win over Rockford since a 68-38 victory in the old Northern Illinois-Iowa Conference on Feb. 21, 1998.

The Red Devils hold a 16-15 edge over the Regents in the all-time series.