Eureka Closes Out SLIAC Leader Webster, 83-80
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Eureka College junior guard Rian Nailor (Rock Falls, Ill./Rock Falls H.S./Sauk Valley) scored the final five points of the game, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:16 remaining in overtime, helping the Red Devils earn a 83-80 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference victory over league-leading Webster in overtime, Saturday afternoon at Grant Gymnasium in St. Louis, Mo.
Trailing 80-78 in overtime, Nailor drilled his third 3-pointer of the afternoon with 1:16 left in the overtime period to give Eureka an 81-80 advantage. Eureka followed with a defensive stop, setting up a pair of successful free throws for Nailor and an 83-80 lead for EC with 14 seconds remaining. The Gorloks got two separate looks at what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds, but both attempts were off the mark.
Eureka had a chance to win the game in regulation, as junior center Mark Lessen (Delavan, Ill./Delavan H.S.) scored inside for a 72-71 advantage with 28 seconds left in the second half. The Gorloks failed to score on their ensuing possession and were forced to foul junior guard Niko Rivera (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley), who made two free throws with 20 seconds to go. Facing the 74-71 deficit with time winding down, the hosts forced the overtime period when Cody Bradfisch connected on an off-balance 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining. Eureka had one final chance to win the game following a timeout, but couldn't convert as the horn sounded.
Neither squad led by more than five points in a first half that featured seven ties and 12 lead changes. Two foul shots by Roman Robinson with 3:13 left before intermission broke the final tie of the half, triggering a 6-3 run by the Gorloks to close the half with a 35-33 lead. Bradfisch led all scorers in the first 20 minutes with 10 points.
The two teams continued to play a tight contest in the early stages of the second half. The Gorloks ultimately opened up the largest lead of the afternoon for either side when Stefan Whittingham's breakaway dunk capped seven unanswered points and a 61-54 advantage for the hosts with 7:47 left in regulation. The Red Devils slowly regained the momentum and used a 15-8 burst to force a 69-69 tie on Lessen's bucket with 1:27 left.
Four players scored in double-figures for the Red Devils, including a game-high 22 points from Lessen on 7-for-13 shooting. Junior forward Dustin Fritsch (Sterling, Ill./Sterling H.S./Sauk Valley) was next with 19 points, followed by Nailor with 18 points.
Saturday's game against the Gorloks marked the 2,000th game in Eureka men's basketball history. In all, the contest featured 27 ties and 14 lead changes.
Eureka will play the final non-conference game of the campaign this Wednesday at the Reagan Center against Lincoln Christian at 8 p.m.