Preview: Eureka Heads to Robert Morris-Springfield for Non-Conference Challenge

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

SPRINGFIELD — Once the winter storm passes, the Eureka women will resume their season with a non-conference battle at Robert Morris-Springfield on Sunday at 2 p.m.

The Red Devils already took care of the Eagles once this season. Another victory would make them .500.

ABOUT EUREKA

The Red Devils are coming off a pair of SLIAC wins and a particularly strong final quarter in a 73-56 victory over Iowa Wesleyan on Wednesday.

They're now 7-8 on the season, sixth in the SLIAC at 3-5 in conference play. On Wednesday, they'll get a shot at a top-four squad when they host Spalding, but Sunday gives the team an opportunity to build off its recent success before then.

At Mount Pleasant, the Red Devils saw a quality performance from senior Samantha Sarnes, who delivered 12 of her team-high 21 points and canned 8 of 9 free throw-attempts in the final frame. Freshman Olivia Falls notched a career-high 16 points, and fellow freshman Josie Morgan added 15 points.

With seven assists to go with 10 points, four steals and three blocks, junior point guard Kennedy Dura leapfrogged Rei Imamura of Westminster for most assists in the SLIAC this season (73). She's also fourth in steals (39).

All told, it was another example of the balance EC has demonstrated throughout the season.

Sarnes (12), Morgan (11.7), Dura (10.7) all average over 10 points per game, as does junior Ashley Harfst (11.7). Falls (9.4 points per game) is fourth in the SLIAC in field goal percentage (54.5 percent) and is the team's top rebounder (6.3 boards per game).

Eureka returns two starters and three letterwinners from last season's 18-win team, which went to the SLIAC Tournament semifinals for the seventh consecutive season. The Red Devils were picked fifth in a preseason SLIAC poll conducted by league head coaches.

ABOUT ROBERT MORRIS-SPRINGFIELD

Robert Morris-Springfield has captured a trio of victories since the last time it ran into the Red Devils.

The Eagles, who were 1-3 before the first EC meeting, enter the rematch 4-11. They avenged a season-opening loss to Rhema Bible College with a 20-point win in late November, beat took down two of EC's SLIAC foes, MacMurray and Principia, in December.

Since then, though, they've dropped three in a row.

 E'Lexus Murrell (16.7) and Deianria Soudamire (13.4) are the Eagles' leading scorers. They combined for 34 against EC earlier this season, but no one else reached double digits.

RECENT HISTORY

Eureka is 4-5 all-time against Robert Morris-Springfield. EC earned its third win in its last four tries over the Eagles just a couple of months ago.

On November 15, the Red Devils shot 50.7 percent from the floor and had five players reach double figures en route to a 93-54 victory.

Dura paced the maroon and gold with 16 points, four rebounds and four assists. Morgan hit a team-high three 3-pointers and added 14 points. Harfst and Sarnes had 12 points apiece.

That was the first time the Red Devils and Eagles had met in five years.

MEET THE HEAD COACHES

Amos Arbogast is in his second season directing the Red Devils. The 2006 Iowa graduate directed Eureka to 18 wins last season, the most victories by a first-year EC head coach since Hall of Famer Sandy Schuster piloted EC to a 19-7 mark in 1991-92.

Arbogast, who served the Eureka men's basketball program as an assistant for six seasons prior to his appointment, welcomed nine newcomers to the program for the 2018-19 campaign.

Doug Bowsher is in his fourth season as Robert Morris-Springfield's head coach. Prior to getting hired by the Eagles in 2015, Dowsher coached at various levels of basketball for 15 years. Among his positions was head coach at his alma mater, Edinburg High School, where he captured a Class 1A regional championship in 2013.