Preview: After Four Straight Wins, EC to Host SLIAC Leader Greenville

Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.
Photo courtesy of Summer Inselmann.

EUREKA  — This challenge couldn't come at a better time in the season for the Eureka women.

St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference leader Greenville is heading to Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena precisely when the Red Devils have been playing their best ball of the year.

They're set to host the Panthers on Monday at 5:30 p.m..

ABOUT EUREKA

After putting together a season-best four-game win streak and coming out on top in seven of their last nine contests, the Red Devils are looking to close out their 2018-2019 campaign strong this week.

As the SLIAC-leading Panthers travel north for the late-season matchup, EC holds a 12-10 record on the year and a 6-7 mark in the conference. They reached .500 with a triumph over Webster, and could reach that mark in the conference with a win here.

Eureka has had its share of quick starts lately, and Saturday's against Fontbonne was among the most forceful. The team jumped out to a 19-1 lead, extended the lead to as many as 22 in the first half, and held off the Griffins once they showed some life in the second.

Junior Ashley Harfst led the way with a double-double of 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, while freshman Josie Morgan notched a team-high 18 points and distributed a team-high six assists.

Freshman Olivia Falls added 13 points. Junior Kennedy Dura, who leads the SLIAC in assists (98), followed with 10 and senior Samantha Sarnes had eight.

Sarnes (12.2) and Harfst (12) both average 12 points per game or more. Morgan posts 11 and Falls is right behind at 10.8. Harfst has pulled down double-digit rebounds in all four games of EC's win steak, averaging 11.5 boards per game.

The Red Devils are third in the SLIAC in free-throw percentage (69.9), and fourth in points (71.7), rebounds (41.2) and  assists (16.1) 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 GREENVILLE

Greenville is the only team in the SLIAC with just one conference loss, coming in with a 12-1 mark in the league and an 18-4 record on the season.  

The Panthers have only dropped one game since 2019 began, a 75-65 loss to second-place Spalding on Wednesday.

The team only scores 4.6 points per game more than EC, but it leads the SLIAC in shooting percentage (43.6) and holds opponents to a league-low 56.7 points per game on a league-low 34.6 field-goal percentage.

The Panthers also are the most consistent SLIAC team from deep (34.4 percent). They post a league-best 19 assists per game, and are second in the conference in blocks per game (3.7) and third in the conference in rebounds (43.6) and steals per game (11.7).

Senior Welsey Woodard leads the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game, with Morgan St. James (12), Jatzen Michael (10.9) and Emily Brandland (10.1) all average double figures as well.

Woodard shoots 56 percent from the field, the fourth-best rate in the SLIAC. Michael is fifth in steals in the conference on the season (52).

RECENT HISTORY

Eureka is 35-22 in the series with GU since 1983, EC has won 11 of the last 16 against Greenville since November 2011, including the 2017 SLIAC Tournament championship game.

The first time around against the Panthers this season didn't turn out so hot for the Red Devils, though. The team never led in an 82-57 loss as Greenville poured in 12 3-pointers and outrebounded them 44-31.

Falls scored a team-high 12 points for EC on the Red Devils' second-lowest scoring night of the year. Michael tallied a team-high 17 points for the Panthers in the team's first win of conference play.

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.

The 2018-19 season is Roy Mulholland's 20th as head coach at Greenville. The 1986 Greenville graduate's teams have been to the SLIAC Tournament seven times since the league adopted a four-team field in 2005. His 2017-2018 squad won the conference last year for the first time since 1997, and his 2015-16 squad won the tournament championship.

FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE

Eureka will provide a live online video broadcast of Wednesday's game. Links will be available at EurekaRedDevils.com, SLIAC.org and D3hoops.com.