For Immediate Release
Men's Basketball -- Jan. 4, 2012
Eureka Men's Basketball Weekly Notebook
SLIAC PLAY RESUMES
The Eureka College men’s basketball team will look to build upon its perfect 2-0 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference record this week with two games scheduled against league foes.
The Red Devils will take their lengthy annual SLIAC road trip to Louisville, Ky. on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. start against the Spalding Golden Eagles. Eureka will close the week with a 3 p.m. tip-off against the Westminster Blue Jays at the Reagan Center on Saturday, the first home game for the Red Devils since Dec. 14. The games kick off a seven-day stretch in which the Red Devils will play all three of last season’s SLIAC co-champions.
Defending SLIAC regular season co-champion Spalding will host Eureka Wednesday night in Louisville.
The Golden Eagles are 3-8 overall and 0-2 in the league this season.
Spalding dropped a 60-53 decision to MacMurray in Louisville to open conference action on Nov. 28. Westminster also won in Louisville on Dec. 3, 54-51, to drop the Golden Eagles to 0-2 in the SLIAC. Spalding owns non-conference victories over Alma, Thomas More and La Verne.
Junior forward Jametrius Brasher is leading the Spalding offense with 13.1 points per game and is the only Golden Eagle to score in double-figures on average.
Louisville native Kevin Gray is in his 14th season directing the Golden Eagles and was chosen as the 2011 SLIAC Coach of the Year. The Spalding coaching staff also features former 12-year NBA veteran Felton Spencer. Because of its provisional status, the Golden Eagles are ineligible to participate in the Division III postseason until the 2012-13 season.
SHOOTING FOR A FIRST IN LOUISVILLE
When Eureka hits the floor Wednesday night in Louisville, it will be shooting to snap a three-game losing streak in the all-time SLIAC series versus the Golden Eagles and win for the first time at Derek Smith
Eureka claimed the first SLIAC clash with Spalding, a 72-58 victory at the Reagan Center on Jan. 9, 2010. Spalding has answered with three straight wins against the Red Devils, including an 81-47 romp in Eureka on Jan. 26, 2011.
Eureka will take on another defending SLIAC co-champion when Westminster invades the Reagan Center this Saturday at 3 p.m. The Blue Jays are 5-6 overall and 1-1 in the SLIAC in 2011-12.
Westminster stumbled to a 73-52 loss against Webster in St. Louis to open conference play on Nov. 30, but bounced back with a 54-51 win at Spalding just three days later on Dec. 3. The Blue Jays most recently defeated Nebraska Wesleyan in Fulton on Dec. 30, 71-69, and will host Fontbonne Wednesday before traveling to Eureka this weekend.
One of two Blue Jays to score in double-figures, freshman guard Verdis Lee is scoring 13.3 points per game. Four of Westminster’s top five scorers are non-seniors. Sophomore guard Joe James has missed one free throw all season (40-for-41), and his .976 percentage ranks third in Division III.
Longtime head coach Matt Mitchell has piloted the Blue Jays to 176 victories and 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.
BREAKING THE TREND
Eureka has struggled historically against Westminster, winning only one of its 11 matchups with the Blue Jays since joining the SLIAC in 2006.
The Red Devils lost seven in a row in the series before breaking through for an 82-56 victory on Feb. 20, 2010, a win that secured a SLIAC Tournament berth for Eureka. One week later, the Blue Jays beat the Red Devils in Fulton for the SLIAC Tournament title, 74-67.
The Blue Jays swept last season’s series and are 4-1 in the Reagan Center since February 2007.
RUNNING OUT OF GAS AT WESTERN
Much like its 2008 matchup at Western Illinois, Eureka held a lead in the first half but couldn’t hold on in a 73-52 loss to the Division I Leathernecks on Dec. 27 at Western Hall. The game marked Eureka’s second contest against NCAA Division I opposition this season and fourth since 2008.
The Red Devils led as late as the 9:32 mark of the first half before Western Illinois carried a 30-23 advantage into halftime. Eureka closed the gap to four points early in the second half, but WIU was able to slowly stretch its lead to earn the victory.
Junior forward Dustin Fritsch recorded the game’s only double-double -- becoming one of only 43 players in Division III with at least five double-doubles this season -- with 11 points and 11 rebounds in a team-high 31 minutes. Junior point guard Rian Nailor chipped in with 11 points, his sixth straight outing in double-figures.
PASSING HIS WAY TO THE TOP-10
Eureka junior guard Jordan Kindred dished out a game-high six assists at Western Illinois, upping his 69-game career total to 240 and moving past Claye Vogelsang (2001-05) for 10th place on the all-time Eureka list.
Kindred needs 19 more assists to reach 1994 NAIA national tournament most valuable player Chris Peterson (1990-94) for ninth on Eureka’s all-time list.
Kindred leads the SLIAC and ranks tied for 14th in Division III with 6.0 assists per game.
IT’S A BLOCK PARTY
Junior center Mark Lessen swatted three blocked shots at Western Illinois to earn his eighth multi-block outing of the 2011-12 season.
Lessen leads the league and ranks tied for 11th nationally with 2.6 blocks per game. The Delavan, Ill. native is the active Eureka leader with 94 career blocks and led the conference last season as a sophomore with 41 blocked shots.
The holiday break brought three new faces to the Eureka roster, all of which transferred to Eureka College to begin studies for the spring 2012 semester.
Junior guard Chuck Misuraca, who appeared in nine games for NAIA Missouri Valley in 2011, will join the Eureka backcourt. The Winnebago, Ill. native was a junior college teammate of current Red Devils Dustin Fritsch, Niko Rivera and Rian Nailor as a two-year player at Sauk Valley from 2009 through 2011.
Fifth-year head coach Chip Wilde will also welcome freshman transfers Cole Jackson (Carthage) and John Fisher (Illinois College).
Freshman forward Brett Crite made his collegiate debut at Western Illinois on Dec. 27, collecting one rebound in 10 minutes off the bench.
Murad Abbed’s basket in the final minute of the Dec. 27 game at Western Illinois was his first since Feb. 19, 2009 at Lincoln Christian. The Danville, Ill. native sat out the 2009-10 season and missed all of 2010-11 with a knee injury.
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