For Immediate Release
Men's Basketball -- Dec. 14, 2011
Lessen Leads Eureka Past RMU-Springfield, 96-90
EUREKA, Ill. – Eureka College junior center Mark Lessen (Delavan, Ill./Delavan H.S.) recorded his sixth career double-double with game-highs of 26 points and 13 rebounds, lifting the Red Devils to a 96-90 non-conference victory over Robert Morris-Springfield, Wednesday night at the Reagan Center. The triumph extends Eureka’s winning streak to four games, the Red Devils’ longest stretch without a defeat since January 2010.
The Red Devils overcame a slow start to take their first lead of the night when junior point guard Rian Nailor (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls H.S./Sauk Valley) scored in transition for a 16-14 advantage with 11:30 to play in the first half. The bucket broke the third tie of the game and the Red Devils would never trail again. Eureka led by as many as 11 points on a layup from junior forward Dustin Fritsch (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) for a 45-34 lead with 55 seconds to play, but the visitors answered by scoring six straight points in the final 31 seconds to trail 45-40 at intermission.
The Eagles used a quick 7-0 burst shortly after halftime to secure a 52-52 deadlock with 16:47 remaining in regulation, but Eureka answered with a 15-0 run behind nine points and a putback dunk from Lessen over the next 3-minutes, 20-seconds to take its largest lead of the game to that point, 67-52.
RMU refused to go away, trimming its deficit back to nine (79-70) on Trey David’s fastbreak layup with 7:02 to go. The Red Devils quickly pushed their lead back to 12 (87-75) before the visitors responded with six unanswered points to trail 87-81 with 1:16 to play. RMU was within six points on two other occasions in the final minute of the game, but Eureka went 6-for-8 from the free throw line in the final 26 seconds to hold off RMU’s repeated threats to complete its comeback.
Eureka dominated the inside game, holding a 50-28 advantage in rebounding and a 66-32 lead on points scored in the paint. The Red Devils also turned 20 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. Fritsch also had a double-double for the hosts with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while junior guard Jordan Kindred (Chrisman, Ill./Chrisman) gave the Red Devils a balanced effort with nine points, nine rebounds and six assists. Nailor scored 14 points, while junior center D.T. Thornton (Normal, Ill./Normal West H.S./Carl Sandburg) scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in just seven minutes off the bench to give Eureka four scorers in double-figures.
Brylin Brown led the Eagles with 25 points and shared game-high honors with six assists. RMU went 12-for-26 from 3-point range on Wednesday, but connected on only 36 percent (5-for-14) of its tries from long range in the second half.
The Red Devils will have less than 24 hours to prepare for their road trip to Rose-Hulman Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. in Terre Haute, Ind. The game against the Fightin’ Engineers in Hulbert Arena will be Eureka’s final contest before breaking for Christmas.
NOTE: Eureka sophomore forward Ryan Olson (Streator, Ill./Streator H.S.) scored a team-high 18 points, including a game-winning putback at the final buzzer, to lead the Red Devils to a 70-69 win over RMU in the junior varsity preliminary game. Eureka freshman forward Brett Crite (Granville, Ill./Putnam County H.S.) added 10 points and 17 rebounds for the Red Devils.
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