Preview: Eureka Returns to the Reagan For MacMurray

Photo courtesy of Bob Hunt.
Photo courtesy of Bob Hunt.

EUREKA, Ill. -- Fresh off its eighth consecutive St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory, the first-place Eureka College women's basketball team will return home Wednesday for a 6 p.m. league tip-off against MacMurray at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.

PDF Version of Eureka Women's Basketball Game Notes

The Red Devils own a share of first place in the SLIAC standings with a 12-5 overall mark and an 8-1 record against conference opponents. Saturday's 89-76 victory at Greenville temporarily gave EC sole possession of first place before GU forced a tie atop the standings at 8-1 with its Monday victory over Spalding.
Eureka has won eight consecutive league games, two victories shy of the program's longest SLIAC win streak of 10 set last season. The Red Devils are 22-3 in their last 25 regular-season SLIAC games and 79-32 (.712) since beginning the the 2011-12 league schedule. Only Westminster (81) has won more league games in that time frame and the Red Devils are the only league school to have won at least 10 SLIAC games in every season from 2011-12 through 2016-17.
The Red Devils rank among the national top 50 with 20.1 assists per game (second), 80.8 points per game (eighth), 32.0 defensive rebounds per game (ninth), 8.3 3-pointers per game (11th), a 1.09 assist-to-turnover ratio (28th), a 35.3 3-point field goal percentage (28th), a 43.3 field goal percentage (32nd) and 44.7 rebounds per game (48th). Kerrigan Dura's 6.9 assists per contest rank second nationally and Hayley Reneau's 23.7 points per game are fifth-most in Division III.
Eight letterwinners return from Eureka's 20-win team that swept the the SLIAC regular season and tournament championships and went to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history. Seven of the returnees played in at least 27 games and four started at least 14 contests. 
Lexi Dooley delivered her third double-double in the last 11 days with a career-high 20 points and 14 rebounds and Kerrigan Dura provided another monster effort with 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, helping the Red Devils with their eighth consecutive SLIAC game in an 89-76 win over Greenville, Saturday afternoon in Greenville, Ill.
Eureka controlled Saturday's game from start to finish, scoring the first nine points of the afternoon and holding GU off the board until the 6:35 mark of the opening period. EC's lead ballooned to 25 points when Hayley Reneau connected from long range for a 47-22 cushion with 3:57 left before halftime. Eureka led 53-33 at the break.
The visitors led by double digits throughout the third quarter. GU held Eureka scoreless over the final 5:07 of the period and used an 8-0 run to trail 63-51 after 30 minutes. Kennedy Dura ended EC's scoring drought with a basket on the Red Devils' first possession of the fourth quarter. EC pushed its lead back to 18 as late as the 4:02 mark before GU's late push was far too little and far too late.
Hayley Reneau was named SLIAC Player of the Week on Monday. The announcement marked her fourth weekly honor of the season.
The Illinois Central transfer averaged 24.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in league road wins at Fontbonne and Greenville. She shot 43 percent from the floor, 48 percent from 3-point range for the week and her seven triples Wednesday at Fontbonne were one shy of equaling Eureka's single-game record. She added three 3-pointers Saturday at Greenville to move in front of Sarah Taylor (1994-98) for fifth place on the program's all-time list with 122.
MacMurray is 4-15 overall and 2-7 in league action. The Highlanders snapped a nine-game skid and earned their first victory since Dec. 8 in an 85-81 overtime triumph over Blackburn last Saturday.
Senior guard Liz Kruemmelbein has appeared in 16 contests and leads the Highlanders with a 14.1 scoring average. She is followed by freshman Shelby Fink with 12.6 points per game and freshman Aleysia Mason-Pavla at 10.3. 
The Highlanders score more than 61 points per game as a team to rank 244th in Division III. MC's team field goal percentage of 34.3 ranks eighth among nine SLIAC teams.
MacMurray joins Blackburn, Fontbonne and Webster as active charter members of the SLIAC. MC won back-to-back regular-season league titles in 1995 and 1996 and the 1996 SLIAC Tournament crown, but hasn't qualified for the league's annual postseason tournament since 2006.
Eureka has won 15 games in a row in the all-time series with MacMurray, including a 103-73 victory in Jacksonville last December in which EC scored more than 100 points in a SLIAC game for the first time in program history. 
Additionally, the Red Devils have won 12 of their last 13 home games against MC and are 21-2 in the last 23 meetings with the Highlanders since 1983 at the Reagan Athletic Complex.
In all, Eureka is 43-5 in the series with MacMurray since the 1983-84 season.
Amos Arbogast is in his first season as head coach of the Red Devils. He was selected as the 12th head coach in program history on July 6, 2017. 
Arbogast had previously served the EC men's basketball program as an assistant coach for six seasons and played pivotal role as an assistant for a program that has proved to be an annual contender in the SLIAC. Arbogast helped guide the Red Devils to consecutive berths to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals in 2012 and 2013, including an appearance in the title game in 2013.
MacMurray is under the direction of Gilbert White and Ashlee Phillips.
White coached middle school basketball in Decatur, Ill. from 2011 until 2014 and later served as an assistant at MacArthur High School. Phillips played collegiately at Brewton-Parker (Ga.) and Belhaven (Miss.) and is in her second season on the MC staff.