THE OPENING TIP-OFF
The Eureka women's basketball team is back home this week, looking to jump back into the top tier of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
On Thursday, the Red Devils will host Spalding at Christine Bonati Bollwinke Arena and Convocation Center at 5:30 p.m. Then, two days later, Webster comes to town for a 1 p.m. matinee on Dave Darnall Court.
After going 1-1 on the road last week, the Red Devils are 8-5 on the season and 4-2 in the SLIAC.
They're currently tied with Greenville, Fontbonne and Westminster for second, while the two teams on the schedule this week — Spalding and Webster — sit atop the table with 5-1 marks in league play.
In other words, it's going to be a pivotal couple of days for the Red Devils.
Eureka currently leads the league in scoring (78 points per game), rebounds (44.2) and steals (13.6), and is second in fewest points allowed per game (64.1).
Last week, the Red Devils gradually pulled away from Iowa Wesleyan for a 78-55 victory on Wednesday.
On Saturday, the Red Devils conceded their second SLIAC loss of the season at Fontbonne, falling 73-62.
Senior Ashley Harfst, who is currently fourth in career free throws (316) and sixth in free throw attempts (395) in program history, moved closer to the 1,000-point plateau. She's now at 961.
Harfst currently leads the league in rebounds (11.7 per game and 152 on the season), followed by Falls (10.4 per game and 135 on the season).
Falls continues to lead the league in field-goal percentage (57.6), while Kennedy Dura tops the conference in assists. Murphy and Hawkins are 1-2 in steals with 37 and 34, respectively.
Spalding is heading to Eureka with a 7-6 record on the season and a 5-1 mark in the SLIAC.
The Golden Eagles are coming off back-to-back wins at home over Fontbonne and Principia, respectively. In addition, they've topped Iowa Wesleyan, MacMurray and Webster. Their only loss in conference play came against Greenville on Jan. 4.
Picked as preseason favorites, the Golden Eagles only lost one player from last year's team, which made it to the SLIAC Championship game.
Hunter Wright is third in the league in field goals made with 71 in 147 tries and fourth in total rebounds with 103. She leads the team with 13.8 points per game while shooting 48.3 percent from the field, and leads the team with 21 steals on the year.
Maleah Hirn follows with 12.2 points per game, and Breanna Anthony is third in the league in field goal percentage 3-point percentage (42.3) while leading the team in assists, with 47 on the year.
The Golden Eagles average 71.2 points per game while shooting 40.3 percent from the floor.
Webster takes on Blackburn for the first time this season on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
With a win over the Beavers, the Gorloks could be at the top of the table come Saturday. They currently hold a 7-6 record on the season and are 5-1 in the conference.
Webster has won three straight, topping Fontbonne, Principia and Westminster in 2020. The team also took care of Greenville and MacMurray in December, but it fell to Spalding, 89-82, in overtime in its conference season opener.
Most recently, the Gorloks bested a solid Westminster team by 20 points at home.
Five players reached double figures for the home team.
Addison Beussink and Naomi Johnson each put up 17 points, while Julie Baudendistel, Jaysea Morgan and Hana Cottrell added 14, 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Beussink also notched 10 rebounds to finish with a 17-10 double-double.
Webster posts 72.3 points per game —good for fourth in the conference — while shooting a league-best 44.7 percent.