For Immediate Release
Basketball -- Feb. 22, 2012
Eureka Women, Men Ready For SLIAC Tournament
EUREKA, Ill. – For the first time in their six-year membership of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the Eureka College women’s and men’s basketball teams have qualified for the SLIAC Tournament in the same season. The Eureka women will play as the #2 seed Friday against #3 Fontbonne Friday at 6 p.m. in Fulton, Mo., while the Eureka men will play as the #3 seed versus #2 Westminster Thursday in St. Louis, Mo.
The Eureka women’s team qualified for the SLIAC Tournament for the first time and will open play at 6 p.m. Friday against Fontbonne on the campus of Westminster College in Fulton, Mo. EC compiled a 20-4 overall record in the regular season, the fourth 20-win season in the 37-year history of Eureka College women’s basketball. The Red Devils also went 13-3 in SLIAC competition to tie for second place in the final regular season standings. The 13 league victories were the most by the Eureka women’s basketball program in 16 conference-affiliated seasons at the NCAA Division III level, besting the previous mark of 10 wins set during the 2006-07 SLIAC schedule.
Additionally, Eureka’s 11-win improvement (nine to 20) overall has proved to be the most dramatic turnaround in program history, besting the previous mark of eight set between the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons and again between the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. The Red Devils also posted an eight-win improvement in SLIAC play (five to 13), the best turnaround by a SLIAC member school since Principia posted an 11-win improvement in conference action during the 2006-07 campaign.
“I think what is special about this team is they do not get too high or too low about any situation,” second-year head coach Taren Martin said during an online chat session Wednesday morning on sliac.org. “Since last year, we talk all the time about approaching each game like it is your last and to play your absolute best. Our girls have done a great job of working hard each and every day that is given to them.”
Top-seed and regular season champion Westminster will host #4 Webster in Friday’s semifinal nightcap at 8 p.m. The semifinal winners will play for the tournament title and the SLIAC’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Fulton.
The Eureka men’s squad will make its third appearance in the SLIAC Tournament in a 6 p.m. semifinal Thursday against Westminster on the campus of Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. Eureka is 2-2 in two previous appearances at the SLIAC Tournament, earning runner-up finishes in 2007 and 2010.
Like the EC women’s team, the Red Devils engineered a significant turnaround from a year ago, posting a 15-10 overall record and an 11-5 SLIAC mark to finish in a tie for second place in the league standings. Eureka’s 11-win improvement overall (four to 15) proved to be the third-largest turnaround in program history. Additionally, the Red Devils’ nine-win jump in SLIAC play (two to 11) was the greatest one-year improvement in the 22-year history of the conference.
“I really feel like our journey started last spring with trying to put this roster together,” fifth-year head coach Chip Wilde said of a roster that features nine returning letterwinners and 11 newcomers. “From there, never a dull moment. Great kids, good times, but still some unfinished business.”
Webster won the 2012 regular season title with a 13-3 mark to earn the right to host the four-team tournament. The Gorloks will host #4 MacMurray at 8 p.m. Thursday night. The two semifinal winners will square off for the tournament crown and the SLIAC’s automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Tournament on Saturday at 1 p.m. in St. Louis.
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