For Immediate Release
Men's Basketball -- Jan. 18, 2012
Eureka Men's Basketball Weekly Notebook
TWO UPCOMING SLIAC ROAD TRIPS
The Eureka College men’s basketball team will shoot for consecutive St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference road victories for the first time in nearly two years when the Red Devils take a pair of road trips this week.
The Red Devils will travel to Carlinville, Ill. on Wednesday for an 8 p.m. start against the Blackburn Beavers. Eureka will close the week with a 3 p.m. tip-off versus the Principia Panthers in Elsah, Ill.
CLUTCH SHOOTING, DEFENSE SAVES THE DAY
Senior guard Austin Nicholas delivered the go-ahead basket with 2:05 remaining, while junior guard Niko Rivera anchored a last-second defensive stand, lifting the Red Devils to a 63-61 SLIAC win over Spalding in a rare Monday night league game at the Reagan Center.
Junior center Mark Lessen delivered a solid game for the Red Devils, scoring 24 points and snagging 11 rebounds in a career-high 37 minutes played. His effort allowed the Red Devils to enjoy a decisive 38-26 advantage on points scored in the paint. Junior forward Dustin Fritsch also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards, while Rivera poured in 10.
Monday’s victory pushed the Red Devils over the .500 mark (8-7) for the first time since owning a 4-3 overall record in mid-December. Eureka’s 5-2 league record matches the 2009-10 Red Devils for the best seven-game SLIAC start since EC joined the conference prior to the 2006-07 season.
Blackburn is 5-10 overall and 2-4 in the SLIAC this season for seventh place in the league standings. The Beavers have dropped seven straight contests, including decisions in Carlinville against Dominican (Ill.) and Westminster.
Senior guard Julian Lott scores 15.1 points per game to pace the BC offense. The Beavers have been especially dangerous from 3-point range, ranking second among SLIAC squads in 3-pointers made per game (7.1) and 3-point field goal percentage (.329).
Jason Baribeau is in his first season as head coach of the Beavers. The 2002 Wisconsin-Green Bay graduate owns previous experience as an assistant at Nebraska Wesleyan, Hanover, Cayuga and Keuka.
Eureka has dominated the all-time SLIAC series with Blackburn to the tune of a 9-1 record. The two squads split last season’s series with the home team winning in a rout in each game.
SLIAC charter member Principia will host the Red Devils on Saturday in Elsah, Ill. at 3 p.m. The Panthers are winless this season (0-14) and yielded 99 points to Fontbonne in a home loss on Tuesday.
Principia boasts a balanced lineup as three players score in double-figures on average. Senior guard Justin MacDonald trails only EC junior Dustin Fritsch for the SLIAC scoring lead with 15.9 points per game. The Panthers have struggled on the glass this season, ranking last in the league rebounding (30.9) and rebounding margin (-10.2). Sophomore guard Matt Jones plays a league-high 34.4 minutes per game.
Mike Bushong, a Principia athletics Hall of Famer and 1974 graduate, is in his first season as head coach
Eureka is 9-2 against the Panthers since joining the SLIAC prior to the 2006-07 season and romped to an 85-57 victory on Dec. 3 at the Reagan Center in the first meeting between the two teams.
WEBSTER ENDS REAGAN CENTER STREAK
Webster’s sophomore Stefan Whittingham led all scorers with 27 points and made four of the Gorloks’ 12 3-point baskets, sending the visitors to a 99-83 SLIAC triumph over the Eureka, last Tuesday night at the Reagan Center. The Red Devils’ defeat snapped a six-game home winning streak dating back to February 2011.
Mark Lessen finished the game with 21 points to lead the Red Devils. Dustin Fritsch scored 19 points and pulled down seven boards, while junior point guard Rian Nailor handed out a career-high nine assists to go along with 15 points in a game-high 34 minutes.
NICHOLAS TORCHES FONTBONNE ... AGAIN
Mabee Gymnasium on the campus of Fontbonne University has been kind to Eureka senior guard Austin Nicholas. The Brownsburg, Ind. native compiled a career-high 20 points in the Red Devils’ 87-74 victory over the Griffins on Saturday.
Nicholas made his first start of the season and knocked down six 3-pointers on Saturday, the most by a Red Devil since Jake Kuenzl connected five times from long range against Westminster on Jan. 8, 2011. Saturday also marked the second time Nicholas scored a career-best at Fontbonne, as his previous mark of 14 came in Eureka’s Jan. 4, 2011 visit to Fontbonne.
Dustin Fritsch was also solid for the Red Devils on Saturday, going for 24 points and 11 rebounds. Mark Lessen matched a career-high with 13 boards.
WILDE GETS 50
Monday’s victory over Spalding proved to be a benchmark moment for EC head coach Chip Wilde. The fifth-year coach became the fifth coach in the 91-year history of Eureka College men’s basketball to direct the Red Devils to 50 victories.
Wilde, who already passed Paul LaVinn for fifth place on Eureka’s all-time men’s basketball wins list this season, is within reach of matching Dennis Dighton (1994-00) for fourth place on the list with 58 victories.
RIVERA HEATING UP
One of four Eureka players to have started all 15 games this season, junior guard Niko Rivera has scored in double-figures in four consecutive games since pouring in a career-high 18 points in a home win over Westminster on Jan. 7. In that four-game stretch, the Sterling, Ill. native has set or matched single-game career-highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocked shots and steals.
Additionally, it was Rivera’s steal that highlighted a last-second defensive stop in the Red Devils’ 63-61 victory over Spalding on Monday at the Reagan Center.
KINDRED MATCHES NAIA HERO
Eureka junior guard Jordan Kindred picked up three assists in Eureka’s victory over Spalding Monday at the Reagan Center, running his 74-game career total to 259.
Kindred’s effort against the Golden Eagles moved him into a ninth-place tie on Eureka’s all-time list with 1994 NAIA national tournament most valuable player Chris Peterson (1990-94). Kindred now needs 45 helpers over the final 10 games of the regular season to reach Rick Taylor (1983-87) for eighth place with 294.
Kindred’s average of 5.3 assists per game this season leads the conference and ranks 25th among Division III players. He is on pace to hand out 133 assists this season, which would be the 10th-highest single-season total in program history.
Junior center Mark Lessen recorded his 100th career block in Monday’s victory over Spalding.
Eureka’s 13-point halftime lead at Fontbonne last Saturday was its largest at intermission this season. The Red Devils are 5-0 this season when leading at halftime.
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