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One of injured EWU players expected to play Saturday

Eastern Washington University logo. (The Spokesman-Review)
Eastern Washington University logo. (The Spokesman-Review)

It’s just a game, the Eastern Washington men’s basketball team was suddenly reminded Wednesday night.

“It could have been much worse,” Eagles coach Jim Hayford said of an auto accident in Grand Forks, N.D., that injured senior starting guards Jeffrey Forbes and Kevin Winford.

The Eagles were returning to their hotel Wednesday following a shootaround at the University of North Dakota gym when a team van carrying Forbes, Winford and several others was struck by another vehicle while making a left turn at an intersection.

“The other car was going very fast,” Hayford said.

It clipped the back of the team van, striking the side where Forbes and Winford were riding.

Forbes suffered a minor knee injury but is expected to play today at Northern Colorado, Hayford said Friday morning after the team arrived in Colorado.

Winford was diagnosed with a concussion and will miss at least one game.

The Eagles, without their starting backcourt, lost 65-47 in a Big Sky Conference game at North Dakota on Thursday. They led 29-27 at halftime but were outscored 13-0 following the break.

“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.”

Two weeks ago, Eastern (4-13 overall and 2-5 in the Big Sky) lost the services of point guard Justin Crosgile. Winford helped fill the void, playing 39 minutes and scoring a game-high 12 points in a 60-53 home loss to Sacramento State on Saturday.

With Winford sidelined, Hayford relied Thursday on true freshman Daniel Hill, who went scoreless but had a season-high five assists, four rebounds and a steal in 38 minutes of action.

“When you take a couple of punches, you don’t fold – that’s when you get tougher,” said Hayford.

“We have to get our players to a place with their confidence where they know if they work hard enough, good things will come.

“We did have some players who kept their heads up and kept fighting, and I have to recognize them for that effort.”