EUREKA — Saturday's St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contest between Eureka and Webster was a one-way train.
It took time to come together, but seemingly everything went the Red Devils' way in an 86-69 stunner over the conference-leading Gorloks at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena and Convocation Center. It was only Webster's second SLIAC loss of the year.
With the win, EC improved to 6-7 in the conference and 7-12 on the year to keep their SLIAC tourney hopes alive. Webster fell to 15-5 and 11-2.
The Gorloks entered shooting a SLIAC-best 48.2 percent from the floor and boasting the lowest opponents' shooting percentage in the league.
Not on Saturday. The Red Devils recorded a 53.8 field-goal percentage and limited the visitors to 36.1 percent. The result was a pretty box score for the home team.
Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria Christian) exploded for a game-high 26 points and was one shy of a career high in rebounds. The 6-foot-3 junior racked up 16 boards — all on the defensive end —while shooting 11 for 18 from the floor.
His emphatic dunk off a feed from senior Donald Hardaway, Jr. (Lansing, Ill./Cimarron Memorial/Daley) with 13:36 left in the game was the emotional apogee of the day.
Junior Jordan Dehm (Metamora, Ill./Metamora) also recorded a double-double, posting 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting and gathering 10 boards . Senior Hank Thomas (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) was two dishes shy of a double-double, finishing with 18 points and eight assists, along with four boards.
The Red Devils shared the ball – in the half court, on set plays and in transition — all day, and it made a significant impact. They finished with 24 assists to the Gorloks' eight.
They tallied 52 points in the paint, notched 12 off fast breaks without conceding any on the other end and went 11-for-14 at the free-throw line.
In control from early on, the Red Devils never took their foot off the gas. EC led by 10 points at the break and expanded it to 19 points in the second after a pair of Hardaway free throws with 7:35 remaining.