Eagles men fall to 10 games below .500


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Photo by: Aaron Malmoe

A car accident between a van full of EWU men’s basketball players and coaches and an oncoming car on Jan. 16 epitomized what the 2012-2013 season has become—a wreck.

The Eagles’ losing streak bellowed to three as they lost consecutive road contests to North Dakota and Northern Colorado, dropping their record to 4-14 overall and 2-6 in the Big Sky Conference. EWU has lost all of their nine road games and own the worst league record.

The accident resulted in minor injuries for EWU starting guards Kevin Winford and Jeffrey Forbes, who suffered a concussion and a knee injury, respectively. Forbes missed one game and was able to return vs. Northern Colorado while Winford remains out, although he said he is “feeling a lot better.” The Grand Forks Herald reported that associate head coach Craig Fortier was driving the van and received a citation for failure to yield while turning.

The short-handed Eagles led 29-27 at the break vs. North Dakota on Jan. 17 in their first trip to Grand Forks, N.D., since 1982 but sputtered in the second half on their way to a 65-47 defeat. Freshman Venky Jois recorded his eighth double-double of the season with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Oregon transfer Martin Seiferth continued his efficient play, making 6-of-7 shots to score 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds with three blocks.

Despite the lopsided loss, Eagles’ head coach Jim Hayford did not get down on his team. “With the adversity we were going through, I thought our guys did really well,” Hayford said. We had control of the game in the first half and made it a game that was winnable. In the second half, North Dakota was fired up and we didn’t match their intensity.”

The Eagles’ woes continued at Northern Colorado as they fell to the Bears, 72-56. Once again, EWU was in the thick of it at halftime, trailing just 33-30 at intermission before a 13-3 second-half run by Northern Colorado put the game out the reach.  Both teams came into the contest with just four wins on their résumés.

Jois blocked seven shots, tying a school record set earlier this season by teammate Seiferth. He added 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Forbes returned to action and scored five points, notching career 3-pointer No. 164, tying him with former Eagle Justin Paola for the third most 3-pointers in school history.

Once more, Hayford remained positive. “I’m proud of our guys and their effort,” he said. “Northern Colorado is coming around—they are a good team. They paid these pains last year.”

Of the 345 Division I men’s basketball teams, EWU ranks No. 309 in field goal percentage, making just 39.9 percent of their attempts. During the 2011-2012 season the Eagles were slightly better, converting on 41.2 percent.

EWU stays on the road for one more game before returning to Cheney, traveling to Southern Utah on Jan. 26 to take on the Thunderbirds, one of the nine Big Sky teams at or below .500 on the season.  Southern Utah has lost four straight, dropping to 5-11 overall and 3-4 in conference.