For Immediate Release
Men's Basketball -- Feb. 16, 2012
Eureka Men's Basketball Weekly Notebook
MISSOURI ROAD TRIP
The Eureka College men’s basketball team will begin its final road swing of the 2011-12 regular season this Saturday, taking its annual trip to Fulton, Mo. for a 7 p.m. St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tip-off against the Westminster Blue Jays.
GOING TO THE TOURNAMENT
For the third time in six seasons since joining the SLIAC, Eureka has clinched a SLIAC Tournament berth will participate as one of four teams in the annual postseason event.
The league tournament will be hosted by the yet-to-be-determined regular season champion. Eureka and Webster have already clinched tournament berths as of Thursday. Westminster, MacMurray and Greenville remain in contention for the remaining two spots. Spalding, in its final year as an NCAA Division III provisional member, is ineligible for postseason play until the 2012-13 season.
MOVING INTO FIRST PLACE
Eureka’s league win over Fontbonne last Saturday pushed the Red Devils into first place in the SLIAC standings for the first time since owning a 3-0 conference record in early January.
The Red Devils held a half-game lead for sole possession of first place for more than four days before Webster defeated Greenville on Wednesday to force a tie between Eureka and the Gorloks with identical 11-3 records.
Two games remain for each squad. Eureka and Webster split their home-and-home series. In the event of a first-place tie, the following tiebreaker would be used to determine the SLIAC Tournament host:
“Record vs. other SLIAC teams, starting with third-place”. Further tiebreaker scenarios can be found at sliac.org.
Eureka will return to the hardwood for the first time in a week in Saturday’s contest at Westminster. The Blue Jays, currently in third place in the SLIAC standings, have a 14-10 overall mark and a 10-5 SLIAC record. The Blue Jays will be playing their regular season finale on Saturday against the Red Devils and need a victory to ensure their spot in the SLIAC Tournament.
Westminster jumped over MacMurray in the conference standings on Wednesday thanks to a 66-58 overtime victory over the Highlanders in Jacksonville. The Blue Jays have won three games in a row and eight of their last 10 games overall since dropping back-to-back contests to Eureka and Greenville in early January.
Senior guard Joe Prophet, who joined the Blue Jays prior to a game against Cornell on Dec. 22, leads the Blue Jays with 14.1 points and 5.4 rebounds per game. As a team, Westminster leads the SLIAC with a 3-point field goal percentage of .356 and averages a SLIAC-best 12.7 turnovers per game.
Longtime head coach Matt Mitchell has led the Blue Jays to three SLIAC titles since taking over as head coach in 1998. Mitchell, who worked alongside Eureka head coach Chip Wilde as assistants at Western Illinois during the 1988-89 season, also serves as the Westminster Director of Athletics.
TURNING OVER A NEW LEAF IN FULTON
Eureka will be shooting for its first victory over the Blue Jays inside Westminster Gym since joining the SLIAC in 2006. The Red Devils are 0-6 against Westminster during that time frame, including a 74-67 defeat in the 2010 SLIAC Tournament championship game.
The Red Devils have lost eight in a row overall at Westminster since a 70-57 triumph over the Blue Jays on Feb. 7, 1995.
RED DEVILS WIN ROUND ONE
Eureka junior guard Niko Rivera was one of all five starters to score in double-figures with a career-high 18 points, and the Red Devils put forth their best effort from 3-point range in more than three years in an 87-77 SLIAC victory over the Blue Jays at the Reagan Center on Jan. 7.
Eureka went 15-for-32 from 3-point range in the previous win over the Blue Jays, the most 3-pointers in a single-contest for the Red Devils since making 19 treys against Lincoln Christian on Feb. 26, 2008. All five EC starters finished in double-figures for the Red Devils for the first time since Nov. 20, 2010 against Rockford.
THE WIN STREAK HITS FIVE
The Red Devils pushed their win streak to five games -- their longest stretch without a defeat since January 2010 -- with two victories last week.
Junior center Mark Lessen recorded game-highs of 33 points and 15 rebounds and junior forward Dustin Fritsch tacked on 28 points, leading the Red Devils to a 99-70 non-conference triumph over Lincoln Christian, Wednesday night at the Reagan Center.
Junior guard Jordan Kindred scored 17 points and distributed a career-high 10 assists to move into seventh place on Eureka’s all-time list, driving the Red Devils to an 86-71 SLIAC Conference win over Fontbonne, Saturday afternoon at the Reagan Center.
LESSEN SHINES ... AGAIN
For the second time this season, junior center Mark Lessen has been selected as the SLIAC Player of the Week, according to an announcement from the league office Monday night. Lessen averaged 24.0 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 86 percent from the field in two EC victories last week.
Lessen, who previously earned SLIAC Player of the Week honors on Jan. 23, kicked off the week with a 33-point, 15-rebound effort in Eureka’s 99-70 non-conference rout of Lincoln Christian last Wednesday at the Reagan Center. Lessen went 12-for-13 from the floor and 9-for-10 from the free throw line against the Red Lions. When Eureka resumed conference action last Saturday, Lessen compiled 15 points, six rebounds and matched a career-high with five blocked shots in the Red Devils’ 86-71 victory over Fontbonne. He finished the week 18-for-21 from the field.
KINDRED KEEPS CLIMBING
Junior guard Jordan Kindred has been making his mark in the Eureka record book this season. Kindred, who distributed a career-high 10 assists last Saturday against Fontbonne, increased his career total to 306 for seventh place on Eureka’s all-time list.
This season, Kindred leads the SLIAC and ranks 19th nationally in NCAA Division III with 5.5 helpers per game, while his total of 126 assists is the 10th-highest single-season mark in program history.
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