ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Eureka College senior guard Austin Nicholas (Brownsburg, Ind./Manitou Spring H.S./Lamar) scored a career-high 20 points in his first start of the season, one of four Red Devils to score in double-figures, driving EC to an 87-74 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over Fontbonne, Saturday afternoon in St. Louis, Mo. Eureka junior Dustin Fritsch (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) added a game-high 27 points in the win.
After yielding a 3-point play to Fontbonne's Nolan Zoellner on the first possession of the afternoon, Eureka (7-7, 4-2 SLIAC) responded with a 12-0 run that covered just 62 seconds for a 12-3 lead. Fritsch and Nicholas each made a pair of 3-pointers to make up the early blitz.
The two squads went on trade the lead twice later in the half before Eureka junior Niko Rivera (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) broke the second deadlock of the game with a 3-pointer for a 24-21 lead with 10:07 remaining in the half. Rivera's bucket sparked a 27-14 EC run to end the first half. Rivera scored 10 of his 13 points during the burst that gave the Red Devils a 48-35 halftime lead.
Eureka led comfortably for the duration of the second half and ultimately took its biggest lead of the day, 63-37, on a jumper from Fritsch with 13:19 to play. The Griffins (2-12, 1-5 SLIAC) were unable to trim their deficit below double-digits at any point during the second half.
Nicholas knocked down a career-best six 3-point baskets in his sixth career start. Rivera grabbed a career-high 10 boards for his first career double-double, while junior center Mark Lessen (Delavan, Ill./Delavan H.S.) matched a career-best with 13 rebounds. Junior guard Rian Nailor (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls H.S./Sauk Valley) distributed a game-high seven assists. Fritsch grabbed 11 rebounds for his team-best sixth double-double of the season. The Red Devils were also solid at the free throw line on Saturday, connecting on 17 of their 20 attempts.
Saturday's victory, coupled with the win by the Eureka women's team, gave the Red Devils their first SLIAC doubleheader sweep since Feb. 11, 2010 at Principia.
Andrew Chism came off the bench to pace the hosts with 21 points. The hosts were dominated by the Red Devils on the boards, 47-27.
The Red Devils will return home Monday for an 8 p.m. SLIAC tip-off against Spalding at the Reagan Center. The Golden Eagles topped Eureka, 70-64, on Jan. 4 in Louisville.