Westminster Hands EC Men First SLIAC Loss, 96-84

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

EUREKA — The Eureka men's basketball team's five-game winning streak came to an end with a 96-84 loss to Westminster at Christine Bonati Bollwinkle Arena on Saturday.

It was the Red Devils' first loss in St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference of the 2019-20 season, and in league play since Feb. 5, 2019.

The Red Devils struggled to contain Ethan Thompson and the Blue Jays' offense. Thompson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, racked up a season-high 35 points while going 12-for-18 from the floor and knocking down 10 of 14 3-pointers.

As a team, the Blue Jays drained 16 triples while shooting 53.3 percent from distance (16-for-30) and 56.5 percent from the floor (35-for-62). Eureka, in comparison, shot 21.7 percent distance and 40.5 percent from the floor.

The Red Devils did, however, see a pair of players record career highs in scoring. Sophomore Jalen Hosea (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) dropped a career-best 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while junior J'Len Crawford (Bloomington, Ill./Bloomington) came off the bench and put up a career-best 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting and hit 4 of 6 3s.

Seniors Austin Juergens (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) and Dakota Bennington (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) added 14 and 12 points, respectively. Bennington also contributed a team-high seven boards and three steals. Junior Chris Daniels (Peoria, Ill./Peoria) posted nine points and six rebounds off the bench.

For Westminster, Jaxon Althaus added 16 points, distributed five assists and made three blocks, and Landon Harrison added 15 points.

The Blue Jays led by as many as 16 in the first half and went into halftime up 13.

The visitors opened the second half with an 11-4 run to make it a 20-point game within the first 3 minutes, 5 seconds. A Thompson triple with 16:11 left extended it to 22.

With some help and energy from EC's bench, the maroon and gold came back within 10 in the final 10 minutes, but the Blue Jays didn't let it get any closer than that.

Going into the day, the Red Devils were one of two teams in the SLIAC without a league loss. Greenville was the other, and the Panthers lost to Fontbonne 142-129, so now EC, Fontbonne, Blackburn, Greenville, Westminster and Webster are all 2-1 in the league.

Eureka (6-2, 2-1 SLIAC) now has six days to recover before the Red Devils take on NCAA Division II Maryville on the road on Friday at 3:15.