For Immediate Release
Men's Basketball -- Nov. 15, 2011
Eureka Takes Opener From North Park, 81-76
EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College junior forward Dustin Fritsch (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) scored 21 points and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds in his first game as a Red Devil, leading a group of four starters to score in double-figures in the Red Devils’ 81-76 season-opening non-conference victory over North Park, Tuesday night at the Reagan Center.
Facing a 71-71 deadlock with 3:05 remaining in the contest, Eureka junior guard Rian Nailor (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls H.S./Sauk Valley) knocked down his second 3-pointer of the game to break the 12th tie of the night and push the Red Devils in front 74-71. The hosts wouldn’t give up the advantage for the rest of the game, as Eureka closed the game with a 10-5 burst for the win. Fritsch buried two fouls shots with 0.8 seconds remaining in the game after a potential game-tying 3-pointer from Mark Holmes was off the mark in the final moments.
The hosts led by as many as six points in the first half after a jumper from junior guard Jordan Kindred (Chrisman, Ill./Chrisman H.S.) gave the Red Devils a 15-9 advantage at the 13:19 mark of the first half. The Vikings, aided by 71 percent shooting from the field in the first half (15-for-21), were able to battle back and regain the lead when Mike Gabriel’s layup pushed the visitors in front, 19-17, with 8:02 remaining. The two squads would trade the lead four more times in the first half before an 11-6 run gave North Park a 38-36 halftime lead.
North Park started the second half with a flurry, scoring nine of the first 12 points of the half to build a 47-39 lead, its largest advantage of the night. Eureka answered with yet another run and took a 50-49 lead on a free throw from senior guard Austin Nicholas (Brownsburg, Ind./Manitou Springs H.S./Lamar) with 13:21 left in the game. As the game winded down, North Park led by as many as three points on a layup from Gabriel for a 67-64 lead with 5:08 remaining. Nailor would go on to hit 3-pointers on two of Eureka’s next four possessions, sparking the late run by the hosts that ultimately won the game.
Fritsch went 8-for-16 from the field for 21 points. He added a game-high 10 rebounds, six of which came at the offensive end of the floor. Kindred, playing for the first time since suffering a knee injury last December, added 18 points and led all players with six assists. Nailor and fellow newcomer Niko Rivera (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) chipped in with 12 points apiece. The Red Devils forced 20 North Park turnovers, the most by a non-conference Eureka opponent since Washington (Mo.) gave the ball away 26 times on Dec. 19, 2008. Kindred and Nailor each had four steals.
Holmes led all scorers for North Park with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting. He made four 3-point baskets. Gabriel scored 19 points, followed by teammate Emanuel Crosby with 14. The Vikings held a 31-25 edge on the glass and shot 61 percent (30-for-49) for the game, the best shooting performance by a Eureka opponent since Minnesota State shot 63 percent on Nov. 27, 2010.
Eureka will hit the road for its next three games, beginning with a 3 p.m. tip-off at Rockford this Saturday.
NOTES: Eureka’s victory was its first win in a home opener since beating Knox, 83-78, on Nov. 21, 2006 ... The Red Devils have won two in a row against College Conference of Illinois Wisconsin (CCIW) opponents.
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