Nov. 16, 2012
CHICAGO - Through its first two games, Loyola University Chicago (2-1) allowed only 45.5 points per contest, but tonight, the Ramblers ran into a buzz saw. Western Michigan's Nate Hutcheson poured in 30 points tonight to lead the Broncos (2-1) to an 81-71 victory over the Ramblers in the first game of the USF Invitational at the Sun Dome. Loyola hit 11 of 21 shots from three-point range, and senior Ben Averkamp totaled a team-best 24 points, but it wasn't enough to overcome Hutcheson's amazing performance.
Loyola shot the ball well in the first half, hitting 7 of 12 shots from behind the arc, including four by Matt O'Leary in the final 7:26, but the Ramblers turned the ball over seven times in the opening 20 minutes. Loyola's last five first-half field goals all came from behind the arc.
The second-half was a classic see-saw battle as the teams exchanged leads 12 times and Averkamp's lay-up at the 9:27 mark gave Loyola a 55-54 lead, which would be its last of the night. A little over a minute later, Austin Richie buried a three-pointer to put Western Michigan back on top and that triple ignited a 16-5 run that pushed the Broncos' lead to 70-60 and from there, Loyola would get no closer than eight points.
For the night, Hutcheson hit 6 of 8 shots from beyond the arc for Western Michigan, which drained 11 of 21 from long range as a team.
"Hutcheson had a phenomenal performance against us, so you have to give him credit," Loyola head coach Porter Moser said. "Western Michigan came into this game shooting around 22 percent from three-point range and hit 11 of 19 tonight. Defensively, I didn't think we had the possession-by-possession intensity that we had in our first two games."
In addition to his 24 points, Averkamp pitched in five rebounds, four blocks and a pair of assists, while O'Leary finished with 14 points, 12 of which came in the opening half. Jordan Hicks added 13 points and four assists for the Ramblers, who also got nine assists from point guard Cully Payne.
Loyola resumes play at the USF Invitational tomorrow night when it faces host South Florida at 7:30 p.m. Eastern.