Greenville Pushes Past Eureka, 138-129

File photo.
File photo.

GREENVILLE, Ill. –  Ian Milsteadt (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) dropped a career-high 45 points and four Red Devils notched new career scoring highs, but the Red Devils fell short, 138-129, in a fast-paced shootout at Greenville on Friday.

It was the Red Devils' first St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference loss of the season, moving the squad to 6-3 on the season and 3-1 in SLIAC play.

Milsteadt, a senior guard and reigning three-time SLIAC Player of the Week, was nearly impossible to stop on the break. As the team's first primary finisher out of the press breaker, he converted 19 of 23 field goal attempts, gathered nine boards and dished three assists in 29 minutes. After notching 26 points in the first half, he tacked on 19 more in the second half.

Fellow senior guard Chris Daniels (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) followed with 21 points and a team-high and career-high 13 assists, contributing 13 points in the second half. Senior center Jaedon Banks (Peoria Heights, Ill./Peoria Heights) was perfect from the field, putting away all seven of his field goal attempts and often finishing with big dunks. He tallied a career-high 16 points to go with six rebounds.

Sophomore forward Andrew Gonzalez (Mundelein, Ill./Mundelein) posted 13 points, pulled down a career-high 12 boards and made a career-high seven assists off the bench, while junior transfer Charlie McKinity (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood) scored a career-high 11 points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds. Fellow junior transfer Jordan Brooks (St. Joseph, Ill./St. Joseph-Oden) put up a season-high nine points off the bench.

But for the Red Devils, racking up 110 points in the paint and shooting a season-high 64.4 percent from the field wasn't enough to outweigh Greenville's 26 3-pointers and 30 forced turnovers.

Greenville's Cameron Vinsel hit seven 3-pointers and scored a team-high 27 for the Panthers. Romello Ball and Jarred Johnson each had 17 points off the bench and three others reached double figures for the home team.

In the first half, the Red Devils led by as many as six after a McKinty bucket off a steal and an assist from J'Len Crawford (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) made it 18-12 less than five minutes into the game.

The Panthers responded by going on a run and leading by as many as 13. However, the Red Devils whittled it back down to two points by halftime, trailing 69-67 after a Milsteadt basket off an assist by Peyton McCubbin (Clinton, Ill./Clinton). Eureka closed the half on an 8-2 run.

The maroon and gold scored the first two baskets of the second half to gain the lead at 71-69 following a Daniels finish on an assist by Crawford. After trading a few baskets, back-to-back buckets by Milsteadt tied it at 77-77 with 17:24 remaining.

Greenville answered with a 3, but a 6-0 EC run put EC up 85-83 with 15:25 to play. It happened on a layup by McCubbin, who finished with six points.

Two more Greenville 3s later, EC scored six straight again on layups by Gonzalez, Daniels and freshman Carlos Hernandez (Minooka, Ill./Minooka). Hernandez's layup notched the first two points of his collegiate career and gave the Red Devils a 91-89 lead with 14:05 left in the game.

When Jared Johnson hit from distance, Brooks answered on the other end to make it 93-92 with 13:36 left and then did it again to make it 95-94 with 12:52 left. That ended up being Eureka's last lead of the game. The visitors kept it a one-possession game for a few minute minutes, but Greenville started to pull away in the last eight minutes.

The System prevailed on Friday, but the Red Devils could get another shot at the Panthers again in the conference tournament.

Eureka (6-3, 3-1 SLIAC) and Blackburn (5-1, 4-1 SLIAC) are now the only one-loss teams in the SLIAC. The Red Devils will next host Spalding (0-2, 0-2 SLIACE) at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.