EUREKA, Ill. – Playing an overtime contest for the second time in less than two weeks, the Eureka College men's basketball team opened the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference portion of its schedule with a 101-90 overtime victory over Greenville, Wednesday night at the Reagan Center. Junior forward Dustin Fritsch (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) led a group of four Eureka starters to score in double-figures with 31 points.
The Red Devils (2-3, 1-0 SLIAC) began the game on a high note, limiting Greenville (2-3, 0-1 SLIAC) to just one field goal through the first five minutes of the contest and building an early 9-2 advantage. The Red Devils led by as many as 10 points in the first half when junior guard Rian Nailor (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls H.S./Sauk Valley) connected on a 3-point try for an 18-8 lead at the 14:12 mark of the first half.
The visitors battled back, slowly chipping away at their deficit and forcing a 29-29 tie on Dondrale Campbell's layup with 5:31 left before halftime. The Panthers ultimately carried the momentum into intermission, scoring eight of the final 10 points to carry a 43-37 advantage into the break. The six-point lead was the Panthers' largest of the first half.
Greenville maintained that advantage early in the second half, but Eureka charged back to take a 54-53 lead on Fritsch's fastbreak layup with 13:09 left in regulation. The basket marked the first of eight lead changes in the second half. Eureka eventually used an 8-0 burst that took just 113 seconds and ended with Eureka's largest lead of the half when senior guard Austin Nicholas (Brownsburg, Ind./Manitou Springs H.S./Lamar) scored in transition for a 68-59 lead with 7:21 remaining.
The lead was short-lived for the Red Devils, as Greenville again pushed back and regained a 73-72 lead on two foul shots from Jonas McBride with 4:05 left. Fritsch and Greenville's K.J. Hilliard made baskets down the stretch to trade the lead before Nailor's triple with 1:02 left in regulation moved the hosts back in front, 79-78. After a defensive stop, Eureka junior guard Jordan Kindred (Chrisman, Ill./Chrisman H.S.) buried two foul shots for an 81-78 lead with 25 seconds remaining, but Hilliard knocked down a game-tying 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to force an 81-81 tie. Fritsch had two interior looks in the final seconds of regulation, but neither attempt would fall, sending the Red Devils to their second overtime game of the season.
Eureka dominated the extra session, outscoring Greenville 20-9. Nailor's third and final 3-pointer of the night with 2:46 left in overtime broke an 83-83 deadlock, and the Red Devils would never trail again. Kindred's 3-point play on the fastbreak with 1:53 left gave the Red Devils a 90-83 lead, effectively putting away the victory for the hosts.
Fritsch scored 31 points and grabbed his 10th rebound with 28 seconds remaining in overtime for his second double-double of the season. Nailor added a career-high 23 points and seven boards, while Kindred chipped in with 20 points and matched a career-high for the second time this season with nine assists. He played a team-high 35 minutes. Junior guard Niko Rivera (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) narrowly missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds.
Hilliard paced the Panthers with 20 points in a game-high 36 minutes. Greenville went cold from long range in overtime, going just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc in the final five minutes.
Eureka will remain home for its next contest, welcoming SLIAC foe Principia to the Reagan Center on Saturday at 3 p.m. Eureka will welcome back Hall of Fame head coach Dave Darnall and players from his 20 teams from 1974 through 1994 to dedicate "Championship Circle" during a halftime ceremony.