Eureka College women's basketball starts with a win
Eureka College sophomore forward Kelsey Shoemake (East Peoria/East Peoria H.S.) poured in 39 points, the third-highest single-game total in program history, leading the Red Devils to a season-opening 112-83 rout of Knox, Thursday night at Memorial Gymnasium in Galesburg. The victory gives the Red Devils season-opening victories in consecutive seasons for the first time since November 1995.
Shoemake went 16-for-20 from the field, narrowly missing the single-game Eureka record of 17 field goals set by junior teammate Caty Eeten (Eureka/Eureka H.S.) against the same Knox squad last season. Shoemake also went 7-for-7 from the foul line and added a career-high 17 rebounds Thursday to earn her first career double-double.
The 112 points put up the Red Devils (1-0) Thursday were the most by a Eureka women's basketball team in a road game in program history. Eureka went 46-for-76 from the field, falling two buckets short of matching the program's single-game record of 48 field goals set in a game versus Greenville on Feb. 20, 1993.
Playing at Knox's speedy tempo, the two squads played to four ties and seven lead changes in the first 20 minutes. Eureka grabbed its first lead of the evening, 6-5, on Shoemake's basket at the 17:43 mark of the first half. Neither team was able to push its lead beyond two possessions until KC's Krystal Pitts buried a triple for a 30-23 advantage with 10:04 left in the half. The visitors stormed back with a 27-15 run to close the frame and led by as many as seven points when Shoemake scored again for a 48-41 cushion in the final minute of the half.
The Red Devils shot 55 percent (21-for-38) in the first 20 minutes and got 14 points from Shoemake. Eeten added 13 points. The hosts outrebounded EC 28-26 in the half, but went just 8-for-20 from the free throw line. Eureka carried a 50-45 lead into the locker room.
Knox (0-1) opened the second half with a 3-point play from Alycia Webster, cutting its deficit to 50-48 after just nine seconds, but the Red Devils answered with a 3-pointer from Eeten and would lead by at least two possessions the rest of the way. Eureka's lead reached double-digits for the first time, 70-60, on Shoemake's bucket with 12:33 left. The Prairie Fire clawed back within six, 78-72, when Becky Duffy knocked down a pair of free throws with 8:07 remaining, but Eureka responded by scoring the next 11 points to put the game away. The final 29-point margin was Eureka's biggest lead of the night.
Eeten also put up a double-double for the Red Devils, finishing the contest with 28 points and 12 rebounds. Senior Jaylynn Stewart (Taylorville/Taylorville H.S./Illinois State) hit double-figures with 18 points. She also had a career-high eight assists and seven rebounds. Eureka outrebounded the hosts, 57-48.
Knox used full-court pressure, quick offensive sets and regular mass substitutions throughout the full 40 minutes. A total of 13 players saw the floor for KC, none of which played more than 21 minutes. Webster led the hosts with 17 points. Knox went just 9-for-45 from 3-point range in the loss.
The Red Devils will have more than a week away from game competition before hosting its home opener at Saturday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. versus Concordia at the Reagan Center.
NOTES: Eureka is now 23-10 against the Prairie Fire since 1983 and 11-6 during that time frame in Galesburg ... The victory marks Eureka's first win in Galesburg since a 68-44 decision on Jan. 4, 2006 ... The 29-point win was Eureka's most lopsided win over Knox since beating KC 76-38 at the Reagan Center during the 1984-85 season.