Women’s basketball exorcises Red Devils, advances to SLIAC finals


FULTON — Four members of the Webster University women’s basketball team netted double-digit points to help take down the Eureka College Red Devils 73-67 in the semifinals of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference tournament on Saturday, Feb. 23.

In the Webster victory, senior guard Maggie Zehner led the Gorloks with 19 points scored and shared the team lead of 3 steals with teammate Gwen Williams, a senior guard.

“I think we really came together as a team,” Zehner said. “Everybody contributed, whether there on the bench or a starter — it didn’t matter. They came out and did what they needed to do.”

The Gorloks started off the game cold with only one made shot through the first 5 1/2 minutes of the game. Webster was down 10-2, but took a 17-16 advantage with 9:08 left in the first half. Webster did not relinquish that lead the remainder of the game, and led the Red Devils 40-25 at halftime.

“Any time when you get in a do-or-die game and you can win, it’s great,” said Webster coach Jordan Olufson. “I love the fact that they made a run at us first (and) we countered with a run.

“That’s great when you can do that at the end of February — hold teams off and find ways to win.”

Webster senior guard Maggie Zehner goes in for a layup in the first half against Eureka College (Ill.) on Saturday, Feb. 23 in Fulton. Webster beat the Red Devils 73-67 in the first round of the SLIAC tournament. The Gorloks will play Westminster College in the championship game on Sunday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. PHOTO BY AVA ROESSLEIN.

Webster was able to keep Eureka in check throughout most of the first half. The Red Devils collectively shot only 1 of 7 (14.3 percent) from beyond the 3-point line. But Eureka came out in the second half with some big buckets to get back in the game.

None was bigger than the 3-pointer by Eureka junior guard Caty Eeten with just over 1 minute to play in the game. Eeten’s triple cut the gap to just 2 points, as the Red Devils attempted a double-digit comeback.

Eeten came into the game with the top spot in the SLIAC in total points and 3-point percentage. Junior guard Kaliann Rikard said Webster tried to limit her touches and stay in front of her throughout the game. Rikard finished the game tied for the most rebounds for Webster with 8.

Even with the Gorloks’ close eye on Eeten, she still managed to score 20 points in the second half. But when Eeten looked to put Eureka on top for good, the Webster defense stepped up. While Eeten had possession of the ball, Zehner came up with a steal with 30 seconds left in the game.

“We’ve got great defenders,” Olufson said. “If you can limit or take away possessions and you can score off it, that’s what we feed off of.”

Webster finished the game in the double digits in steals with 10.

Olufson said his team was unselfish with the basketball and got everyone involved. Williams accumulated 12 points for the game, and junior forward Courtney Pursley had 11 points to go with 8 rebounds. Sophomore forward/center Cassie Endicott also cracked double digits in points scored with 10 of her own.

After the game was over, SLIAC All-Conference teams were chosen. Zehner was picked as a first-team selection, and Pursley was named an All-Conference honorable mention. Furthermore, Zehner and Williams were chosen for the All-Defensive team. Freshman Alyssa Sapp was named to the All-Sportsmanship team.

With the win, the No. 2-seeded Gorloks will take on Westminster College (Mo.) on Sunday, Feb. 24 in Fulton. The Blue Jays are the No. 1 seed in the tournament. Webster split the two regular-season contests against Westminster.

“We need to play Webster ball,” Rikard said. “Box out and do what we do, instead of letting the other team dictate what we do.”

The Gorloks’ next game — the SLIAC tournament championship — will begin at 2 p.m. Listen to the game here.

— Tim Doty contributed to this report.

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