Over the weekend, the men’s basketball team played three games in Tampa, Florida, participating in the South Florida Invitational. They won all three of their games, first against Loyola-Chicago, then Maryland-Eastern Shore, before the finale against host South Florida.
In their tournament opener against Loyola-Chicago, Nate Hutcheson led the way with a career high 30 points in an 81-71 victory. The Broncos were very efficient from the floor, shooting better than 52 percent from the floor and making 11 of 19 three point attempts as a team. Of the 11 three pointers, Hutcheson went six of eight from deep to go along with nine rebounds and a block.
Three other starters got into double digit scoring, Darius Paul finished with 14 and six rebounds, Austin Ritchie with 13, and Brandon Pokley with 10. Paul and Ritchie were also willing passers, notching five assists apiece to lead the team. The team took care of the ball, committing only nine turnovers. They also allowed only four offensive rebounds to Loyola, limiting second chance points.
In the second game of the tournament, the Broncos smothered Maryland-Eastern Shore defensively, and emerged with a 68-51 victory.
The game was tight early, as the teams traded leads, but the Broncos closed out the first half on a run to give the Broncos a seven point lead at halftime. Good second half shooting combined with stifling defense gave the Broncos a win.
The Broncos were led in the game by Brandon Pokley with 14 points. Three other starters scored in double digits as Paul Darius and Shayne Whittington scored 13 apiece. The duo also combined for six assists and 15 rebounds out of the post. The other starter, Austin Ritchie, scored nine, and had a team leading six assists.
In the final game of the invitational, the Broncos faced off with host South Florida. It was a tightly contested, defensive battle with neither team shooting well, but the Broncos emerged victorious, 58-53.
Neither team earned a substantial lead in the first half, despite South Florida appearing to have an offensive edge, as they shot 55 percent in the first half compared to only 40 percent for Western Michigan. The Broncos stayed in the game, trailing only by two at halftime, 36-34. In the second half, both teams went cold.
The second half shooting percentages were 37.5 for Western Michigan, and an ice cold 23.1 for South Florida, who made only six field goals the entire half, and scored only 17 points in the 20 minute period. The Broncos didn’t shoot much better, making only nine field goals, but they were helped by four of those nine being three pointers.
The Broncos took advantage of South Florida’s mistakes, scoring 13 points off eight South Florida turnovers. They out rebounded South Florida 38-27, and the bench did enough, chipping in nine points to hold onto the win.
The Broncos once again relied heavily on the starters to score. Pokley again led the team with 15 points, with nine points on three of four three point shooting. Paul Darius had 14 points and eight rebounds, Nate Hutcheson had 11 and six rebounds. Austin Ritchie played a rounded game with three points, five assists, and five rebounds.
After a highly successful tournament, the Broncos are 4-1 on the season. They will now return home, and will not play until after Thanksgiving. Their next two games will be played at home. The first on Thursday, Nov. 29 against High Point at 7 p.m. and the second is against Oakland on Saturday, Dec. 1 at 2 p.m.