LINCOLN, Ill. – Eureka College junior point guard Rian Nailor (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls H.S./Sauk Valley) recorded game-highs of 18 points and five assists, lifting the Red Devils to their third consecutive victory in a 78-73 non-conference triumph at Lincoln Christian, Wednesday night at the Laughlin Center in Lincoln, Ill.
Lincoln Christian (2-7) raced to a 9-4 lead in the first four minutes of the contest, a five-point lead that proved to be the largest of the night for LCU. The Red Devils (4-3) pushed back immediately with a quick 7-0 burst behind baskets from Nailor, junior guard Jordan Kindred (Chrisman, Ill./Chrisman H.S.) and junior forward Dustin Fritsch (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) for an 11-9 lead.
The Red Lions regained the lead one final time in the first 20 minutes before Kindred's triple with 10:08 to play in the first half gave the Red Devils the lead for good at 18-16. Eureka led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but the Red Lions scored nine of the final 11 points of the half to trail by only four, 37-33, at intermission.
Eureka quickly pushed its lead to double-digits in the second half, as Nailor's layup in transition gave the Red Devils a 55-44 cushion at the 14:36 mark. The lead stretched to 63-49 when senior guard Austin Nicholas (Brownsburg, Ind./Manitou Springs H.S./Lamar) connected from long range with 12:00 to go. LCU refused to go away, trimming its deficit back to four points, 63-59, on Christian Lowery's free throw with 7:16 remaining, but the Red Devils answered with a 9-0 run for a 72-59 advantage.
The Red Lions threatened yet again, clawing within three points on two different occasions in the final minute of the game. Kindred and Nailor would each go on to make a pair of free throws in the final 21 seconds, while LCU's final two possessions produced zero points as the Red Devils picked up their first road victory of the campaign.
Nailor scored 18 points to share game-high honors with Mark Hamm of Lincoln Christian. Kindred (16), Fritsch (15) and junior center D.T. Thornton (Normal, Ill./Normal West H.S./Carl Sandburg) (10) also scored in double-figures for the Red Devils. Fritsch collected a game-high nine rebounds and a career-high six steals. Nailor and Kindred each distributed a game-high five assists.
Eureka did most of its damage inside, holding a 44-37 advantage in rebounds and a 46-24 edge in points scored in the paint. The Red Devils also converted LCU's 25 turnovers into 26 points.
The Red Devils will continue non-conference action next Wednesday, welcoming USCAA Robert Morris-Springfield to the Reagan Center for a 7:30 p.m. start.