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Men's basketball: Eureka (Ill.) 95, Westminster 59

Men's basketball: Eureka (Ill.) 95, Westminster 59

January 12th, 2018 by Stevie Johnson in College Sports

The Blue Jays were only down six points at the break, but their offense withered away and their defense was exploited in the second half of Wednesday night's SLIAC home loss to the Red Devils.

Eureka College shot a sizzling 56 percent (15-of-27) over the final 20 minutes, outscoring Westminster College 51-21 to turn the contest into a runaway. The Blue Jays (9-5, 5-2 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) shot a feeble 23 percent (7-of-31) during that span.

"Eureka has a very good team and we were emotionally and physically flat tonight," Westminster head coach Matt Mitchell said. "We made a run to end the first half that gave us some hope, but we didn't have much left in that tank."

The Blue Jays — who had won two straight — trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half after the Red Devils' Alex Wiegand scored off a dunk to make it 38-26 with 4 minutes, 26 seconds left. Westminster, though, crafted a 12-2 run and senior forward Stu Hollandsworth's dunk brought the Blue Jays within 40-38 with 1:30 to go.

Eureka (10-4, 5-2) tallied the final four points of the half to take a 44-38 edge into halftime.

Senior guard Tanner Cochran's layup cut Westminster's deficit to 50-46 with 16:06 remaining in the game, but the Red Devils countered with an 18-2 run to build a 20-point advantage.

The Blue Jays managed only eight points in the final 9:13 as Eureka established firm control in the decisive 36-point throttling.

Freshman forward Steven Brandt — who connected on 4-of-7 3-pointers — came off the bench to tally a career-high 16 points for Westminster, which shot just 34 percent (20-of-59) for the game. Cochran and Hollandsworth contributed 10 points.

Cochran also pulled down a team-high six rebounds as the Blue Jays were outrebounded 38-30.

Dakota Bennington — who was 8-of-11 from the field — came off the bench to power the Red Devils with a game-high 25 points. Shea Feehan followed with 22 points for Eureka, which shot 59 percent (31-of-53) overall, while Alex Wiegand and Hank Thomas both had 12.

"Tonight is an example of the ebb and flow of a long season," Mitchell said. "Eureka was really good and they have some dynamic players.

"We will regroup and get ready for Saturday."

Westminster will look to get back on track with another home contest against SLIAC foe MacMurray (Illinois) College at 3 p.m. Saturday.