For Immediate Release
Men's Basketball -- Jan. 10, 2012
Eureka Men's Basketball Weekly Notebook
TWO MORE SLIAC BOUTS
The Eureka College men’s basketball team will look to bump its overall record over .500 for the second time this season with two St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference contests this week.
The Red Devils will host the Webster Gorloks Tuesday at the Reagan Center at 8 p.m. Eureka will close the week with a 3 p.m. tip-off against the Fontbonne Griffins on Saturday in St. Louis, Mo.
Webster has stumbled to a 3-8 overall record in 2011-12, but all three of its victories have come against SLIAC opponents to give the Gorloks the league’s only unbeaten record (3-0) and sole possession of first place.
Webster has downed Westminster, Blackburn and Spalding in league action. Despite the league success, five of the Gorloks’ eight non-conference defeats have been by at least 16 points.
Three players score in double-figures for the Gorloks. Sophomore forward Stefan Whittingham leads the group with 12.8 points and a team-best 7.3 rebounds per game.
One of the longest-tenured head coaches in the SLIAC, Chris Bunch is in his ninth season at Webster. Bunch is 123-95 overall and 93-32 in the SLIAC, giving Webster the league’s best conference record since Bunch took over in 2003. He has won the SLIAC Coach of the Year award three times.
HISTORICALLY VERSUS WEBSTER
Webster owns a 7-3 record against Eureka since the Red Devils joined the league in 2006. The two squads have split their last six games, while Eureka has won two of its last three matchups with Webster in the Reagan Center.
Fontbonne enters the week with a 2-9 overall record and a 1-2 SLIAC mark. The Griffins will travel to Spalding on Tuesday and Greenville on Thursday before welcoming Eureka this Saturday.
While the Griffins have won only two contests this season, each victory has come against solid Division III competition. Fontbonne handed Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference leader Central its first and only loss of the season, 68-66, on Nov. 19 in St. Louis. FU also beat preseason SLIAC runner-up choice MacMurray last Saturday, 63-61.
Junior guard Nolan Zoellner, who hit a buzzer-beating shot to beat the Red Devils at the Reagan Center in January 2010, is scoring a team-best 11.5 points per game. Senior Saliou Dioum leads the Griffins with 6.8 boards per contest.
Steve Schaefer is in his first season as head coach of the Griffins. Schaefer, who previously served as an assistant coach at midwest Division III programs Augustana, North Park and Benedictine, is just the second head coach in Fontbonne men’s basketball history.
Like its women’s program, Fontbonne boasts the winningest men’s basketball program in SLIAC history. The Griffins have won 205 conference games three regular season crowns since the SLIAC began men’s basketball competition in 1990.
EVENLY MATCHED FOES
Eureka and Fontbonne will renew their SLIAC rivalry on Saturday in St. Louis and play for the 12th time since the 2006-07 season. Perhaps Eureka’s most evenly matched SLIAC opponent, the Griffins own a 6-5 advantage in the league series.
Each team has won three out of five on their opponent’s home floor, but the home team won each contest last season. The Griffins claimed the only neutral-site contest of the series, an 88-79 overtime decision for the SLIAC Tournament championship at Webster’s Grant Gymnasium on Feb. 24, 2007.
FALLING SHORT IN KENTUCKY
Eureka junior guard Jordan Kindred led all scorers with 23 points for his best offensive output in more than a year, but the Red Devils’ second-half comeback wasn’t enough in a 70-64 SLIAC defeat at Spalding last Wednesday night at Derek Smith Gymnasium in Louisville, Ky.
Mark Lessen finished the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Dustin Fritsch scored 11. Senior reserve guard Austin Nicholas knocked down all four of his shots, including a pair of 3-pointers, for a season-best 10 points.
EXTENDING THE HOME WIN STREAK
Eureka junior guard Niko Rivera scored a career-high 18 points, lifting the Red Devils to an 87-77 SLIAC victory over defending league co-champion Westminster, Saturday afternoon at the Reagan Center.
All five starters finished in double-figures for the Red Devils for the first time since Nov. 20, 2010 against Rockford. Rivera also matched career-highs with nine rebounds and five assists, while Rian Nailor scored all 18 of his points in the second half. Mark Lessen chipped in with 15 points and seven boards. Dustin Fritsch finished Saturday’s contest with 11 points and eight boards, and Jordan Kindred poured in 10 points.
The victory extended Eureka’s home win streak to six games. The Red Devils are a perfect 5-0 on their home floor this season and haven’t lost inside the Reagan Center since a 60-55 setback against Greenville on Feb. 14, 2011.
Eureka was aided in its victory over Westminster on Saturday by 15 3-point baskets, the Red Devils’ best effort from long range since the 2007-08 season.
The Red Devils previously made 19 triples against Lincoln Christian on Feb. 26, 2008. Saturday’s effort marked the 10th time EC has knocked down at least 12 3-pointers in a game since Chip Wilde became head coach in 2007.
Eureka junior guard Jordan Kindred recorded nine assists in two SLIAC games last week, upping his 71-game career total to 249 and continuing his march to moving up Eureka’s all-time list.
Kindred needs 10 more assists to reach 1994 NAIA national tournament most valuable player Chris Peterson (1990-94) for ninth on Eureka’s all-time list.
Kindred, who has matched his single-game career-high twice this season with nine assists, leads the SLIAC and ranks tied for 20th in Division III with 5.8 assists per game.
Senior guard Austin Nicholas scored a season-best 10 points and made his 100th career field goal last Wednesday at Spalding.
Junior center Mark Lessen scored his 500th career point in the first half of Saturday’s win over Westminster.
Eureka’s 12-point halftime (43-31) lead over Westminster was its largest halftime advantage of the 2011-12 season and biggest margin overall since leading the same Westminster squad, 44-26, at intermission on Feb. 20, 2010. Saturday’s 87-77 win ultimately improved the Red Devils to 25-6 when scoring at least 80 points under Chip Wilde.
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