Necks exorcise Red Devils



Krishna Merriman gets into position on offense.

Michael Harms, Courier Staff

Eureka College challenged the Western Illinois University Leathernecks on Monday and lost big, 98-46. This Division 3 school has had a successful season posting a 16-7 record, tied for second in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, but did not have the skill to keep up with Western’s Division 1 talent competing at the top of the Summit League with a 19-7 record.

The Purple and Gold controlled this matchup from the opening tip. Western scored first and went on an 11-0 run in the first four minutes, until Samantha Sarnes put in a three-point jumper that put Eureka on the board. Eureka could not find the bottom of the net for the rest of the first quarter. The Red Devils went 1-18 shooting in the first quarter as the Leatherneck defense was able to stifle any offense they were looking to find.

Meanwhile, Western showed it’s first quarter dominance as they shot 11-19 for a total of 28 points. This started the long 40-minute play, which was dominated by one corner. Western may have let off the gas, but never allowed Eureka to have any positive stats. Through the first half, Eureka had only 13 points, shot below 20 percent and had 13 turnovers. Despite this horrible performance on the stat sheet, this game would not count. For Eureka, this matchup was an exhibition game and would not affect their season overall stats.

Western decided to make this game an easy win for themselves as they scored less than 22 in each quarter. They shot 46.2 percent from the field and had 17 points off turnovers. They kept it simple utilizing their bench for 60 points and shooting 10 points at the free throw line. Western had four players in double digit scoring including Clemens, Blumer, Higgonbotham and Krishna Merriman.

Merriman, who played volleyball for Western for three years until a season ending injury her junior year, turned to basketball, and had the night of her career. Head coach JD Gravina praised the importance of the game towards building momentum for the rest of the season.

“It was nice to get up and down the court and play some relaxed offense. I thought we did a good job of having fun with the game,” Gravina said. “Now it is time to spring towards the finish, which starts with Saturday against a really good South Dakota State team.”

This game win for the Leathernecks must motivate them to win against South Dakota State, who is ahead of Western in the Summit League, holding a 21-5 record and only one game behind USD. This matchup on Feb. 17 is the last game in Western Hall for seniors Clemens, Blumer, Olivia Braun, Tayler Hanneman, Merriman, and Michelle Farrow. The senior class is looking to increase their chances to get ahead for the Summit League Championships in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

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