Preview: Eureka Returns to the Road Wednesday in St. Louis

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

ST. LOUIS, Mo. -- A little bit of history is at stake for the Eureka College women's basketball team Wednesday when the Red Devils travel to St. Louis, Mo. for a 6 p.m. St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference bout with Webster. A victory would give EC 11 consecutive SLIAC wins for the first time since joining the conference prior to the 2006-07 season.

PDF Version of Eureka Women's Game Notes

The Red Devils ran their league win streak to 10 and their overall win streak to seven last Saturday in a 102-53 SLIAC win over Blackburn at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena. Eureka is 14-5 overall and shares first place with preseason favorite Greenville in the league standings with a 10-1 SLIAC record. The Red Devils have won 12 of their last 14 games since Dec. 2.
One more victory by the Red Devils over their final five regular-season contests will secure EC a spot in its seventh consecutive SLIAC Tournament. Eureka's current streak of six straight tournament bids (2012-17) is the league's longest active streak and the third-longest streak since the event returned with a four-team format in 2005. Fontbonne made eight in a row from 2005 through 2012.
Eureka increased its season scoring average to 82.7, highest in the SLIAC and sixth-highest nationally, after hitting the century mark in Saturday's win over Blackburn. Hayley Reneau is Division III's third-ranked scorer with 24.1 points per game.
The Red Devils have logged 20 assists or more in 11 of their first 19 games, including a season-high 28 at MacMurray on Dec. 2, to lead NCAA Division III with 20.5 assists per game. Kennedy Dura leads the Red Devils and ranks fourth in the country with 125 assists. Sister Kerrigan Dura ranks seventh in the nation with 120 assists. Both players will challenge Deb Kessinger's 1990-91 single-season season record of 148 and Kerrigan's 368 career assists rank second all-time behind Molly Hardesty's 415.
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. 
Hayley Reneau led five Red Devils in double figures with 26 points, Kennedy Dura added 18 points and 12 assists and Abby Hahn logged career highs of 11 points and 11 rebounds for her first collegiate double-double, leading EC to a 102-53 SLIAC victory over Blackburn last Saturday afternoon at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena.
The Red Devils used a 12-0 barrage midway through the first quarter to break a tied score and grab a 20-8 cushion at the 2:09 mark of the first quarter. EC led 28-10 at the end of the frame. A layup from Dura in the closing seconds of the first half gave the Red Devils their biggest advantage of the first 20 minutes, 55-26, a margin that held up as the halftime score.
Limited to only seven available players, EC extended the lead to 83-43 after three quarters. A 3-pointer from Ellie Broyles allowed the lead to reach 92-43 with 6:53 left in the game.
Samantha Sarnes scored 21 points in her first collegiate start. Dura tallied 18 and Ashley Harfst poured in 14 points. Lexi Dooley dominated on the glass for the second consecutive outing, collecting 19 rebounds to go along with nine points. Hahn's double-double came in a career-high 25 minutes of action.
Webster has won three consecutive contests and seven of its last eight since ringing in the New Year to own a 13-5 overall record. The Gorloks are 7-3 in the league for sole possession of third place in the SLIAC standings. WU is 8-1 at home this season, scoring 82.0 points per game in St. Louis and suffering its only home loss of the campaign to Greenville, 81-79, on Jan. 17.
A pair of senior frontcourt players pace Webster in scoring. Aley Lucas pours in 12.5 points per game on 44 percent shooting, while Taylor Lucas adds 10.2 points while shooting 40 percent. They are the only two players to average more than 27 minutes per game and Aley Lucas is one of only three Gorloks to start all 18 games. Taylor Lucas is WU's leading rebounder with 5.4 per contest.
The Gorloks find much of their success thanks to a tenacious defense that forces 28.9 turnovers per game, fifth-most in the country. A bulk of that number comes from 16.9 steals per game, fourth-most nationally. Taylor Lucas leads the charge with 2.3 steals per game.
Webster returned to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals last season after missing the event in 2015 and 2016. The Gorloks were picked third in the league for the current campaign according to a preseason coaches' poll.
Eureka earned its fourth consecutive victory in the series with Webster on Dec. 16, a 79-68 win in which the Red Devils led by as many as 16 points in the second half. The Red Devils have  won nine of their last 13 regular-season games against the Gorloks since Jan. 10, 2012.
Overall, WU owns a 15-14 record in the all-time series that dates back to the 1989-90 season, including an 8-5 mark against EC in Grant Gymnasium.
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.
Jefferson City, Mo. native Jordan Olufson is in his 10th season as the head coach at Webster. Olufson guided the Gorloks to a SLIAC Tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2011. His nine-year record at WU is 143-110. He is the program's all-time winningest coach.
Olufson came to Webster after a stint as an assistant coach at Central Missouri.  He played collegiately for Missouri Valley and Ashford before earning an undergraduate degree in sports and recreation management from AU in 2006 and a master's degree from Central Missouri.