In the end, family came first for Justin Crosgile.
Crosgile, the leading scorer on the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball team, cited a “need to be closer to home” for his surprise decision to leave the squad earlier this week.
“It’s been a great experience at Eastern Washington, and I have nothing against the coaches or players here,” Crosgile said in a telephone interview Friday night.
Crosgile said he plans to return to his native New Jersey to be near his mother and his 3-year-old son.
Crosgile, a redshirt junior transfer from St. Joseph’s, started at point guard in each of the Eagles’ first 12 games and averaged 14.7 points, 5.5 assists and 36 minutes per game – all team highs.
The Eagles announced Crosgile’s departure shortly before their 81-66 Big Sky Conference loss Thursday night at Montana. In his place, head coach Jim Hayford will rotate senior Kevin Winford and true freshman Daniel Hill.
“Justin has indicated that he needs to make changes to put family first,” Hayford said Friday. “I certainly cannot fault him for that. I thank him for his contributions to our program.”
The Eagles (3-10 overall and 1-2 in the Big Sky) play tonight at Montana State (4-7 and 1-2).
The Bobcats feature a guard-oriented lineup that ranks 20th in the NCAA in turnover margin – MSU is averaging just 13.0 turnovers and forcing a league-leading 17.9 per game.
Eastern is ninth in the Big Sky in turnover margin with averages of 13.1 committed and 11.0 forced.
“It’s a game where we are really going to have to play with composure and poise,” Hayford. “That’s the challenge of the next one.”
The Eagles’ next home game is Jan. 10 against Northern Arizona.
Crosgile said his decision came on the heels of a holiday trip back to New Jersey. He returned to Cheney on Dec. 27, but said he felt pulled by the chance to complete his education closer to home – either in communications or business administration.
His mother’s recent surgery was another factor, Crosgile said.
Crosgile, 21, said he doesn’t know where he will enroll for winter term. “I hope to complete the process as soon as possible,” Crosgile said.
He said he hopes to play next season as a graduate student, but didn’t name any schools.
In 12 games at Eastern, Crosgile led the Big Sky in assists and average minutes played, ranked fourth in scoring and ninth in rebounding at 5.9 per game. His 1.7 steals per game ranked fifth in the conference.